When it comes to New York delis, Carnegie and Katz’s get all the glory (and customers). Deservedly so, as these two restaurants consistently serve up excellent sandwiches. But several delis around town offer excellent versions of the same types of eats in far less crowded circumstances. Herewith, our five favorite undersung delis. Happy sandwiching! By Jessica Allen.
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Artie’s Delicatessen, on the Upper West Side, is a throwback to the Jewish delis of old. Opened in 1999, this restaurant honors the vision of Artie Cutler, who developed and ran such notable eateries as Virgil’s, Ollie’s Noodle Bar, and Docks Oyster Bar. Artie’s offers a retro vibe coupled with old-school deli favorites like chopped liver sandwiches, kasha knishes, whitefish salad, matzo ball soup, and sweet and sour tongue. The long menu also includes seven types of reubens (such as the grilled vegetable reuben and the corned beef and pastrami reuben combo).
The slogan of this deli, “raising New York’s cholesterol since 1929,” just about says it all. You don’t come to Eisenberg’s for the atmosphere, bustling as it might be, or the decor, unless you like linoleum and fluorescent bulbs. Instead, you come for the sandwiches like open-face tuna melts, pastrami, and “The Jake” (chicken cutler reuben), as well as the “no BS” attitude (“you either get it or you don’t” goes another tagline). Specials include a Hebrew National knockwurst served with beans and a meatloaf platter. Breakfast is available all day.
Depending on where you start, getting to Liebman’s Bronx Delicatessen and Catering can be a schlep. Back when Joe Liebman opened his eponymous restaurant in 1953, there were over 100 other delis in the Bronx. Today, Liebman’s is one of the few remaining bastions of brisket, gefilte fish, roast beef, corned beef, and beef flanken in Riverdale. If you’re super hungry, go for the “triple decker”: any three meats layered on three slices of rye, along with homemade coleslaw and Russian dressing.
What began as a low-key Jewish-by-way-of-Montreal deli in Brooklyn is quickly becoming a mini empire. To date, Mile End now has a sandwich shop in Manhattan, as well as a cookbook for those who want to try this at home. On the menu at the deli are such creatively named concoctions as “hoyt dog” (a house-made beef frank with relish and kraut), and a “ruth wilensky” (house-made beef salami with mustard). Careful readers will notice a trend: just about everything is made on site.
Mill Basin Kosher Deli has the distinction of being the only restaurant on this list to have a Chagall lithograph adorning on its wall. Indeed, the on-site gallery lets the public feast on work by famous artists as they fill their bellies with a “Mark & Donny special” (a club sandwich with hot pastrami and corned beef atop a sweet red pepper) or a “Basin Supreme” (a triple decker with pastrami, salami, bologna, and corned beef), among other Jewish comfort foods. Note: you don’t have to order food in order to check out the gallery.