50 States of Delis
Ah, the American deli experience. This tasty tradition conjures visions of satiating potato latkes, pastrami sandwiches and other Jewish delicacies. A true melting pot story, the deli has branched out beyond its Central European roots with Italian, Mediterranean, Hawaiian and Southern fare filling up its gleaming glass cases. Here are the top picks in all 50 states and D.C.
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Utah: Caputo’s Gourmet Market and Deli
This Salt Lake City market is acclaimed for its wide-ranging selection of cheeses, so the slices stuffed into their deli sandwiches are far from the standard. Opt for The Soprano and you’ll get Cacio De Roma cheese imported from Southern Italy, along with capocollo and roasted red pepper spread. The shop even boasts its own cheese-aging program, with two cheese caves on the premises. Cheese isn’t the only indulgence that draws the crowds to this shop. Caputo’s also has chocolate on lock, with more 300-plus bars available. Among the options are many varieties made right in the state. And devotees who are hungry for details about their favorite treats can get their learn on with classes like Craft Chocolate 101.
New York: Katz’s Delicatessen
New Yorkers like to think of their city as the center of the universe. It’s not always. But it arguably is when it comes to deli specialties, especially pastrami. This salt-and-spice-cured beef was first introduced to the Big Apple by Romanian Jewish immigrants who opened hundreds of delis here in the late 1880s. A throwback to that era, Katz’s has been serving its hot pastrami since 1888. These days, tourist line up for a taste of those hand-cut deli sandwiches and that brusque New York attitude.
Wyoming: Pearl Street Market
With its carefully curated selection of locally sourced meats, boutique wines, craft beers and restaurant-quality prepared foods, Pearl Street Market caters to Jackson Hole denizens with discerning tastes. The deli sandwiches served on artisan bread are a crowd favorite — and they don’t put a major ding in the wallet with pricing at around $10 a piece. There’s a banh mi stuffed with house-made jalapeño-chicken sausage festooned with pickled veggies, fresh cilantro and a squirt of the sweet-spicy sauce that typifies this sandwich. The French dip is kicked up with Boursin cheese and French onion au jus. And the schnitzel sandwich with fried pork, fennel slaw and lemon-herb aioli on a brioche bun could beat out many a gastro pub contender.
Louisiana: Central Grocery
Immigrants have created many great inventions upon arriving in America: Levi’s, American cheese… and the muffuletta! When Italian immigrant Salvatore Lupe noticed Sicilian farmers struggling to eat platters of Italian salami, olive salad, cheese, Italian ham and bread on their laps outside his Central Grocery, he decided to combine the separate ingredients into a handheld sandwich. Lupe stuffed the fillings, along with freshly minced garlic, into a round loaf of sesame-studded bread, thus creating the now-iconic sandwich. These days, tourists and locals alike crowd into Central Grocery to score this NOLA staple. In addition to the massive sandwiches, this spot also offers specialty items like Italian pasta, Mediterranean vegetable seeds and the house-made olive salad that’s achieved cult status in its own right.
Delaware: Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop
Building post-Thanksgiving sandwiches out of leftover turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce is one of the most-iconic food traditions in America. Fans of the seasonal staple have even greater reason for gratitude in recent years, as they can now score this sandwich year-round at Capriotti’s. The best-selling sandwich at this Wilmington-born mini-chain is the Bobby, with its holiday-inspired mix of homemade turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mayo nestled in a soft sub roll. While the house-roasted fresh turkey is by far the most-popular protein, the place also deserves props for its Philly cheesesteaks and classic Italian subs.
Vermont: Center Market
For more than 50 years, the J sisters (June, Jolly ad Jerrilyn) have been feeding Georgia locals a true taste of the Green Mountain State. The siblings are hailed for their exemplary maple baked beans made from their family’s own maple syrup, slab bacon, yellow mustard and Vermont yellow eye beans. Fans have a cult-like devotion to this delicacy, with the sisters selling up to 16 pounds of the baked beans weekly at Center Market. They also offer Shepherd’s pie, chicken and biscuits and other traditional hot dishes, along with soups, fresh quick breads and grinders stuffed with hearty fillings like homemade meatballs. When not serving their deli customers, these sisters keep busy giving back to the community. To wit, they cook and serve about 40 meals a day for Meals on Wheels.
Texas: Noble Sandwich Shop Co.
Shortly after Noble Sandwich started slinging gourmet sammies out of a tiny storefront near Lake Travis in 2010, die-hard enthusiasts made the 30-minute trek by car to score their between-the-bread creations stuffed with a slew of house-made ingredients. To this day, all the meats are cured in-house and the bread, condiments and pickles are made on the premises. Owners John Bates and Brandon Martinez sum up their philosophy as “make it, and make it better than the guy down the street.” They now do so at multiple locations with sandwich options that include a Cuban known as the best in Austin, a Smoked Duck Pastrami Reuben, and a Seared Beef Tongue festooned with smoked green onions, red pepper relish and aioli.
Nevada: Carnegie Deli
After eight decades of slinging monstrous sandwiches to hungry New Yorkers, Carnegie Deli finally shuttered its legendary Seventh Avenue doors in 2016. It may be gone and it is certainly not forgotten, yet those seeking a taste of its infamous sandwich need only to book a flight to Las Vegas. There, The Woody Allen lives on at the new incarnation of Carnegie Deli at MGM Resorts International. Made with heaping mounds of corned beef and pastrami barely held together by slices of rye bread, this creation is as over-the-top as Sin City.
Indiana: Shapiro's Delicatessen
The restaurant industry is a notoriously tough business. You know you’re doing something right if you’ve managed to survive not just the Great Recession but also both World Wars and the Great Depression. Shapiro’s has been passed down through one family since 1905. Four generations in, this Midwestern institution still serves the same delis staples that have contributed to the spot’s long-standing success. Offerings include a vast selection of to-go specialty items, including cured meats (beef sticks, anyone?), sandwich fillings (how about smoked tongue?) and cheeses, freshly baked breads and desserts, as well as traditional salads like chopped liver. Of course, you can eat yourself into oblivion on the premises as well, thanks to a menu of meat-stuffed sandwiches brimming with pastrami, corned beef or any number of classic deli fillings.
Oregon: Kenny & Zuke’s
Modern Portland meets old-school Jewish deli at Kenny & Zuke’s. Just like those shops of yesteryear, more than 90% of the menu is made in-house, though most of the dishes feature a contemporary twist. To wit, traditional knishes are livened up with flavorful fillings like herbed yam, chicken pot pie and corned beef and cabbage. While much is new, the place holds true to the old customs. They hand-cut their superb pastrami, which is brined for a week before getting rubbed down with spices and smoked with oak. The tender meat is best sampled in the Ken’s Special, a sandwich crammed with pastrami, chopped liver, coleslaw and Russian dressing.
Arizona: JJ's Deli
This Scottsdale spot offers all the deli standards. It serves omelets, knishes, hot dogs, cold sandwiches and hot Jewish classics, including a pastrami Reuben sandwich that’s particularly tempting. More than 20 varieties of bagels are made fresh at the restaurant every single day using the traditional flash-boil technique favored in America’s bagel center, New York City. The most-popular item, however, caters to heat-loving Arizonans. The Santa Fe Grilled Chicken Sandwich features green chili, Swiss cheese, avocado and grilled chicken nestled between two slices of grilled sourdough bread slicked with homemade chipotle mayo.
Idaho: Das Alpenhaus Delikatessen
Das Alpenhaus owner Jamie Webster fondly remembers shopping in old-school German delis with his Oma as a kid. These days, he’s introducing Treasure Valley locals to that same comforting fare he shared with his grandmother. Webster and co-owner Gregory Hanson first opened the shop's doors for business in 2016. An ode to the neighborhood market and luncheonettes found throughout the German-speaking world, Das Alpenhaus sells wurst, spaetzle, deli meats, cheese and sweet treats, among other German-accented items. The spot also features one of the largest selections of Austrian, German and Swiss brews in the Northwest. It’s become a popular lunch hub, thanks to the hot lunches that highlight a rotating cast of German classics like rouladen, bratwurst and jagerschnitzel. Hot lunch is served from 11 a.m. until the day’s selection runs out, but if you don’t arrive in time, the Reuben sandwich is also a local favorite (albeit the least German item on the menu).
Massachusetts: Sam LaGrassa’s
You know how New Yorkers always claim their superior water is the key ingredient in the city’s specialty dishes? The owners of Sam LaGrassa’s agree. They have been collaborating with a Bronx-based business for more than six decades to create the brine for their corned beef. The meat is plunged into this custom bath of salt, bay leaves, juniper berries, peppercorns and chili pepper before its weekly delivery to Boston, where it’s sliced and sandwiched on locally made rye or pumpernickel. A squirt of Gulden’s spicy brown mustard adds a touch of tanginess to this beloved sandwich. It’s become a Massachusetts staple, but the top-seller at this local deli is actually a newfangled concoction, the Chipotle Pastrami. The spice-kissed meat is topped with coleslaw and pressed on a double-faced grill.
Italian immigrants created namesake sandwiches in every US city where they landed. Among them was Giovanni Amato who fed legions of hungry Maine fishermen in the early 1900s. They frequented his cart in Portland, where he piled soft rolls with ham, cheese, pickles, raw onions, green peppers, black olives and tomatoes, then finished these Italian sandwiches with a splash of oil dressing. He eventually expanded the operation to a shop, where he hawked a varied selection of sandwiches for more than 50 years. In 1972, Amato sold the business to another Italian immigrant, who pepped up the original sub with Greek olives and a couple of other tweaks, then franchised the shop. Today those salty, wax-paper-wrapped sandwiches can be found throughout the Northeast.
North Dakota: Hornbacher’s Grocery
Just as Floridians rave about Publix — seriously, it’s an obsession — North Dakotans pledge their allegiance to Hornbacher’s. The eight-location chain of mini-supermarkets was founded in 1951, just outside Fargo, Minnesota. It has since garnered an ardent following of shoppers devoted to its wares — folks even take the time to pen glowing Yelp reviews for their local stores. The chain’s in-store deli items are one of the top reasons for the adoration: Reubens and hot fried chicken are as sought-after as the local specialties like casseroles and Jell-O salad. So beloved are Hornbacher’s deli offerings that they’re pretty much a staple at any picnic or party on the Eastern side of the state.
Washington D.C. Stachowski’s Market
Chef Jamie Stachowski knows his way around meats. He helms a butcher shop, a charcuterie and a sausage-manufacturing plant offering an impressive collection of seemingly disparate cured and smoked options: venison pate, veal mortadella, Texas Red Hots and French boudin among them. Head to his eponymous D.C. market to try them all, along with some of the biggest deli sandwiches south of the Mason-Dixon line. Stachowski’s briny, succulent pastrami is cut into thick slices, then piled high on toasted pumpernickel with mustard. Size-wise, this hot sandwich could easily constitute two full meals. Same goes for the chef’s take on the Italian, the 4 MEAT Grinder. You’ll likely need both hands to tackle this imposing log of a sandwich layered with locally-sourced salami, coppa, mortadella and soppressata (along with peppers, s, onion slivers, tomatoes and lettuce), all bulging out of a toasted Italian roll.
Ohio: Perla Pierogies
There’s no food that better honors the Eastern European roots of Parma, Ohio, than the pierogi. At least half of the working-class neighborhood’s 80,000 or so residents can trace their ancestries to places like Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia — countries where passion for pierogies may just run as high as Americans’ adoration for fried chicken and pizza. And Perla, a Polish bakery and prepared-food shop, sells the best in the state. Locals often swing by to get their fix of pierogies. Paper-thin wrappers of dough come delicately stretched over more than a dozen fillings like potato and sauerkraut, as well as potato, cheddar and bacon. While those par-boiled dumplings of joy are the most popular items on Perla’s menu, the place also sells some great cabbage rolls, schnitzels and other Eastern European comfort foods.
South Carolina: Caviar and Bananas Gourmet Market & Cafe
Duck Confit, Pimento Cheese BLT, Zucchini Toastie: This gourmet market has stepped up the sandwich game in South Carolina and beyond. Husband-and-wife team Margaret and Kris Furniss opened the first Charleston locale in 2008. Since then, the operation has expanded to encompass five locations throughout South Carolina and Tennessee. Options beyond the gourmet sandwiches abound, with salads and creative sushi rolls (think shrimp paid Thai) sharing space on the menu. Gleaming deli cases are crammed with superb takes on prepared foods, including crispy chicken tenders, Asian noodle salad and piri-piri-charred cauliflower steaks. And morning staples include breakfast burritos and homemade oatmeal with chocolate hazelnut butter and seasonal berries. Each shop boasts a little bit of everything, all made from scratch daily.
Missouri: Hermann Wurst Haus
With a wurstmeister (yes, it's a real title) at the helm, you can be sure this meat shop takes its sausages seriously. Mike Sloan and his wife Lynette produce more than 100 varieties of fresh and smoked meats, including wursts, bacon, summer sausages, ham, jerky, bologna, braunschweiger and more. They showcase their brats, pulled pork and meat-crammed sandwiches on a deli-style menu that also features house-made sides like German potato salad, red cabbage, baked beans and peach-pecan bread pudding. Set in historic Hermann, Missouri, the Sloan’s shop has become more than a market to the surrounding community. It is a beloved gathering place where locals get together to nosh on German specialties and share a beer or two. The beverage selection, which includes local beers and wines (along with five specialty sodas) has been carefully curated to complement the shop’s enviable wurst.
Georgia: Muss & Turner's
This Smyrna neighborhood joint masterfully merges concepts and cuisines. Operating as a deli by day and a bistro by night, Muss & Turner tweaks Southern specialties with Jewish tradition. A prime example is the Bucky Goldstein, which features slow-roasted Rosewood Ranch Wagyu beef brisket, pickles and onion rings piled on a mustard-slicked bun and slathered with Carolina barbecue sauce. Another standout is the Swiftyâ s Dream (pictured above). Tangy horseradish slaw cuts through the rich combination of barbecued pork shoulder and crisp slabs of Nueskeâ s bacon that are piled into this Georgia-style pulled pork sandwich.
California: Langer's Deli & Restaurant
Though the pastrami isn’t the only standout on this spot’s multi-page menu, which spans from grilled liver and onions to fish and chips, the cured beef has most-definitely achieved cult status. Langer’s has been slicing up pastrami for ardent fans since 1947 and stacking up accolades along the way (awards include the James Beard Foundation’s Regional America’s Classics). The cured beef is so in demand that Langer’s started an overnight delivery service for the contiguous 48 states. Find out what all the fuss is about by ordering the pastrami in the famous No. 19. This iconic sandwich starts with toasty rye bread that’s crisped in the oven after arriving fresh from the bakery. The sturdy slices hold up to the juicy brined beef, which is crowned with a thick layer of coleslaw, a slice of Swiss cheese and, finally, a slather of Russian dressing.
Arkansas: District Fare
This Little Rock sandwich shop and specialty store could give the big-city delis a run for their money, thanks to its pastrami alone. Cured and smoked in-house, this juicy marbled beef gets a pungent kick from black pepper. Opt for the pastrami sandwich and the meat will come accompanied by sharp housemade mustard and tart cornichons, all piled onto airy rye bread baked daily by Arkansas Fresh Bakery. While that world-class pastrami is the mandatory order, the market also offers a worthy assortment of fresh breads, salads, spreads and housemade charcuterie (including bacon, porchetta and bratwurst) prominently displayed in a glass-front case near the register.
Colorado: The Bagel Deli and Restaurant
For the past half-century, this Denver spot has garnered all kinds of media attention, including a turn on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The deli even received official recognition from its home state when Colorado governor John Hickenlooper issued a proclamation declaring April 1, 2017 as Bagel Deli Day. As its name suggests, the place serves an array of bagels and other deli staples. The Reuben, however, is the must-try item on the menu. Befitting the place’s larger-than-life reputation, a heaping pile of hand-sliced corned beef is joined with tangy sauerkraut and melted Swiss, with the whole lot barely held together by two slices of toasty rye bread.
Connecticut: Gaetano's Deli
Here’s a NYC insider tip: Manhattan’s Little Italy may draw the tourists, but locals head instead to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. It was there that the owners of Gaetano’s Deli got their start. Guy Catalano and Milanno Ukehaxhaj worked together at the famous Mike’s Deli on Arthur Avenue before bringing their own Italian-style delicatessen to Stratford, Connecticut more than two decades ago. The pair have since expanded their operation into three locations to keep up with local demand for Gaetano’s mix of Italian grocery items (including housemade mozzarella) and stuffed breads crammed with pepperoni and cheese, eggplant parm and the like. The selection of panini alone takes up nearly an entire page of the menu, with more than 20 different ways to fill the grilled sandwich. Each one starts with Italian bread picked up daily from Addeo’s Bakery in the Bronx, which is then piled high with classic deli meats. Options include bresaola (cured filet mignon), Oldani salami and plenty of Boar’s Head varieties.
Illinois: J.P. Graziano Grocery Co.
The Italian beef, bistec jibarito, pork tenderloin, cemita: Illinois has a number of iconic sandwiches favored in cities and towns across the state. If you can only try one, though, make it the Italian sub, and more specifically, The Mr. G from J.P. Graziano Grocery Co. Fourth-generation owner Jim Graziano starts his version in the standard way by building the sandwich on a crusty Italian bun. He layers on the meats and cheese (Genoa salami, hot sopressata, prosciutto and provolone), but then ups the ante with the addition of Roman-style artichokes, basil and lettuce dressed in red wine vinegar. A squirt of truffle-mustard vinaigrette ties it all together with a touch of bright acidity.
Iowa: B&B Grocery, Meat & Deli
Third-generation owner John Brooks says it was a night his father spent watching a show at the Des Moines playhouse that inspired the shop’s now-beloved Dad’s Killer sandwich. As soon as the curtain closed, the elder Brooks headed to B & B Grocery to create this one-pound-plus behometh that brings together roast beef, corned beef, smoked ham, turkey and a trio of cheeses (Swiss, pepper and American). The fillings are piled into an Italian hoagie roll, then topped with lettuce, tomatoes, Kosher pickles, mustard, mayo and Italian dressing. This overstuffed sandwich is now one of the most-popular lunch items at this family-owned operation, where current owners John and Joe serve about 180 locals per day.
Kentucky: The Cheddar Box
Even folks who detest the combination of fruit with savory foods say The Cheddar Box’s chicken salad with honey and cranberries is weirdly addictive. But that sweet chicken salad (just one of the four available variations) is not the only item that lures the crowds to this Louisville market. Before morphing into a full-scale deli, The Cheddar Box started as a cheese shop in 1979. Those dairy-filled roots are still blatantly apparent in delicacies like gougères stuffed with barbecue almond chicken, tenderloin sandwiches slathered with stilton mayonnaise, and a cheddar pecan torte.
Maryland: Attman’s Deli
A stalwart of Baltimore’s Corned Beef Row since 1915, Attman’s lives up to its block’s name by serving a mean corned beef sandwich stuffed with meat fresh from steaming hot kettles. Corned beef isn’t the only sandwich this spot has on lock. The folks here stack slices of rye bread high with fillings like pastrami, smoked turkey and tender beef tongue to create sandwiches billed as “fit for a king or queen.” Don’t sleep on Attman’s Specialty Reuben, a hybrid that predates all the viral over-the-top sandwich fads. Opt for this fan favorite and your pick of corned beef, turkey or pastrami will come nestled inside two potato pancakes with coleslaw and pickle on the side.
Minnesota: Northern Waters Smokehouse
Minnesota may be far from the coasts, but it certainly has its share of lakes. And where there’s fresh water, there’s usually fish. Lake trout, for instance, has become one of the many defining foods of the North Star State. A selection of smoked fish — along with smoked meats and charcuterie — lures the crowds to Northern Waters Smokehouse, which is set on the banks of Lake Superior. The most popular dish on their menu is the Cajun Finn. Smoked salmon with Cajun seasoning, scallion cream cheese, sliced roasted red peppers, sliced pepperoncini and mixed greens are all held together by a fresh-baked stirato roll. It’s perfect for an impromptu al fresco lunch on the North Shore.
Mississippi: Delta Meat Market
After a decade of working in Charleston and Nashville for top chefs, Cole Ellis moved back to Cleveland, Mississippi, with his family. The move was driven by a desire to establish a grocery store and butcher shop in the heart of the city. Ellis and his wife Mary Tatum opened Delta Meat Market in the fall of 2013, just as Cleveland’s downtown started returning to its former glory. The shop has flourished along with the rest of the community. Locals pack in for Friday happy hours and daily lunches, which highlight Ellis’ house-cured charcuterie and other local ingredients in a rotating menu of salads, plates and sandwiches. If you see Skinny Catfish Poboy on the day’s menu, don’t miss the chance to try it. This sandwich features fried chips made of catfish, along with smoked vinegar-marinated lettuce and tomatoes tucked inside Leidenheimer's French bread. A slathering of housemade sauces adds to the layers of flavor.
Montana: Tagliare Delicatessen
Grabbing a basket of sandwiches, cheeses and a bottle of wine from Tagliare before hitting the nearby trails or rivers has become almost a rite of passage in Missoula. The modern Italian deli offers some of the best imported goods in the state. But the spot’s amped-up riffs on the standard deli sandwich are what draw a steady stream of customers from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Each sandwich is named after an iconic band, with heavy metal rockers Megadeth inspiring the moniker for the meatiest option on the menu. Fennel-studded Tuscan finocchiona salami, hot soppressata, pepperoni, ham and hot capicola are layered along with smoked mozzarella, pepperoncinis, tomatoes and feisty slaw inside local bakery Le Petit Outre’s award-winning ciabatta. It’s the perfect fuel for rocking out on the river.
Nebraska: Oma’s Deli
Finding affordable lunch options in Omaha that don’t fall into the fast food category is like hitting the culinary jackpot, which makes this hidden gem of a deli even more of a find. Its homey dining room and outdoor patio are so inviting that many locals prefer to eat on the premises instead of grabbing lunch to go. Offerings include soups, salads and sandwiches. A standout is the elevated riff on a BLT filled with smoked bacon, tomatoes and fresh greens, then finished with a slick of creamy garlic aioli and a drizzle of lemon vinaigrette to balance all that richness. It’s all held together by a French baguette that’s crusty on the outside and warm and chewy on the inside. Save some space for the baked goods — a dizzying array of cookies, scones, pastries, mini loaves and more are all available to go.
New Jersey: Town Hall Deli
New Jersey has so many great delis, it would be hard to even narrow down one pick for each of the Garden State’s 21 counties. But only the Town Hall Deli in South Orange has bragging rights as the birthplace of the state’s iconic Sloppy Joe. No, we’re not talking about the droopy bun slathered in canned tomato sauce and sprinkled with ground beef. This Sloppy Joe is a sandwich of another sort. Invented in 1935, the New Jersey classic comes stacked with layers of two different meats (ranging from turkey and ham to corned beef and tongue), Swiss cheese, coleslaw and homemade Russian dressing between two slices of specially baked Pullman rye bread.
New Mexico: Bodega Prime
This spot takes the concept of an average bodega and blows it up to epic proportions by bringing retail, take-out and dine-in together in one sleek yet charming space. They have just about everything except a resident cat. Pick up house-made ricotta or queso fresco, some strawberry ketchup and house-cured gravlax. Or pull up a stool and settle in with one of Chef-Owner Noela Figueroa’s rustic-style breakfast, lunch or weekend lunch entrees. The buttermilk-brined fried chicken sandwich is a local favorite. Filets are fried to a perfect golden-brown crisp, then accented with bok choy slaw, sweet pickles, honey and fresh jalapenos, all served on a house-made brioche roll.
North Carolina: The Rhu
As the laid-back sister restaurant to John Fleer’s sophisticated Rhubarb eatery, The Rhu offers a casual approach to the chef’s regionally-focused cuisine. Locals swing by to stock up on gourmet snacks before hitting the trails or tubing down the French Broad River. In addition to pastries, sandwiches and salads, The Rhu stocks picnic baskets brimming with different food options. A brunch-centric one comes packed with fresh pastries, while another offers a traditional ploughman’s lunch. There’s also a sandwich and salad package. Excellent a la carte offerings span from a house-made ham sandwich on sweet potato brioche to a hearty garlic and kale salad.
Oklahoma: Mediterranean Imports & Deli
For more than 35 years, this deli has been bringing the exquisite tastes of the Mediterranean to Oklahoma City. Specialty foods from around Southern Europe and the Middle East beckon from the shelves of this small storefront. In addition to an extensive olive bar, the store offers numerous olive oils, rare jams and preserves, pickles and vinegars, as well as an encyclopedic selection of global cheeses. It’s a great place to stock up the pantry, yet the real draw is the lunch menu. Stellar sandwiches stuffed with turkey, cheese and other classic fillings share space with house specialties like falafel, shawarma pita and mezze platters.
Virginia: Society Fair
Chef-Owner Cathal Armstrong has elevated the traditional market concept with Society Fair, a Victorian-themed spot that houses a gourmet grocer, bistro and wine bar. Shoppers can often be spotted relaxing over bites and sommelier-curated wines, their grocery totes stuffed with high-end treats like macarons and organic sausages. Hungry but in a hurry? Check out the deli’s to-go items. They serve breakfast classics like biscuits and gravy and huevos rancheros until 11 a.m., followed by an excellent litany of lunch options. Stave off that afternoon slump with an exemplary pollo asado sandwich or the classic egg salad on Irish Pullman bread.
Washington: By the Pound Deli
Up front, Capitol Hill’s By the Pound Deli offers sizable sandwiches, soups and salads in a glossy subway-tiled space. It looks like your average takeaway shop, but a faux freezer door at the back of the storefront leads to a hidden bar open in the evenings. The intimately dark speakeasy sports all the trappings of the genre: black leather tufted booths, shelves lined with books, plenty of votives twinkling throughout the room. In addition to a rotating selection of mules and other cocktails, the brooding bar offers the same hulking sandwiches served in the airy front deli. A standout is the Daisy Fuentes stuffed with slow-roasted pork butt, barbecue and pineapple serrano relish.
Tennessee: Mitchell Delicatessen
A consistent winner of “best of” accolades in the Nashville press, Mitchell’s Delicatessen is hailed for its superlative daytime fare. This shop’s focus is local, from smoking and curing its meats in-house to showcasing regionally sourced ingredients in its soups, self-serve salad bar, breakfast bar and prized sandwiches. Its temping roster of sandwich options include the Turkey Brie, the Banh Mi stuffed with roasted pork, the Smoked BBQ Beef Brisket and the French Dip, but the most-popular pick by far is the Turkey Avocado. This healthy(ish) sandwich brings juicy braised turkey and fresh avocado together with critically-acclaimed Benton’s bacon, cheddar, sprouts, tomato and mayo, all piled on slices of whole wheat bread from Tennessee bakery Silke’s Old World Breads.
Hawaii: Kaka'ako Kitchen
Get a taste of Hawaii’s diverse cuisines at this beloved Honolulu counter-serve spot. Kaka’ako Kitchen may have a no-frills appearance and casual vibe, but Chef Russell Siu’s creative menu and expertly prepared dishes wouldn’t be out of place in a fine-dining restaurant. Pick up an ahi tuna steak sandwich with teriyaki sauce on a purple taro bun, a char siu chicken salad with hoisin vinaigrette or one of Siu’s gourmet plate lunches with choice of beef stew, five-spice chicken or furikake tempura catfish with pick of rice and salad. Skip the open-air seating and opt to take your food to go. The portable options are perfect for a picnic at the beach.
Pennsylvania: Ricci’s Hoagies
In Philly, it’s not a sub. It’s not a grinder. And it’s not a hero. It’s a hoagie. And Ricci’s Hoagies is the place to get one. Since the Roaring Twenties, the snug, family-owned shop has been churning out sandwiches stuffed with cold cuts sliced to order. Sure, you can customize your sandwich, but we suggest you “fugeddaboud” the build-your-own option and stick with either the Italian or the Old-Fashioned Italian. The former features Genoa salami, cooked salami and capicola on a classic roll with provolone, tomatoes, pickled peppers, lettuce, onions, a squirt of olive oil and a sprinkling of oregano, while the latter includes a far simpler (and equally delicious) combo of prosciutto, soppressata, roasted peppers and sharp provolone. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
Michigan: Zingerman’s Delicatessen
Zingerman’s has long been a shrine of high-end cuisine. This legendary market houses a creamery, a candy shop, a restaurant, a bake house, a roaster and, last but not least, a world-class deli. The menu balances old-school standards with new-school spins. Pastrami and corned beef may have their own dedicated sections of the sandwich menu, but the ever-changing sandwich of the month showcases inventive combos like the GMR Part Deux. This creation marries oven roasted brisket with warm provolone, New Mexico green chiles and oven roasted onions, all piled on a grilled Zingerman's Bakehouse onion roll.
South Dakota: Dakota Butcher
Talk about overachievers: the folks behind this two-shop operation do it all. They source and sell choice beef, lamb and seafood. They cure brats and stuff sausages. They make pizzas and smoke ribs and chicken. They even process whole animals through their meat locker. And the Eastside location has a full-service restaurant to boot. It is a popular place to dine, but regulars often pick up wine — yes, it’s also a liquor store — and South Dakota specialties like takeaway tiger meat. Essentially the state’s version of steak tartare (no endangered species are harmed in the process), this mix of ground round seasoned with green peppers, onions and special spices is only available to go due to state health code.
West Virginia: Flying Fish Seafood Deli & Market
The folks at this Morgantown deli and market head to Baltimore throughout the week to source the freshest seafood from up and down the Eastern seaboard. On any given day, the gleaming display cases are crammed with a slew of seafood options ranging from salmon, tuna and swordfish to grouper, Opah and soft-shelled crabs. The staff are more than willing to offer cooking tips for those who want to grab a fresh catch to go, but most locals prefer to let the experts take care of the preparation. Crowds pack in at lunchtime, where the wait is never too long, thanks to the spot’s “fresh fish fast” ethos. Fan favorites include the oyster po boys, the crab cake sandwiches and the fish or shrimp tacos, both blackened and stuffed into giant tortillas with cilantro, scallions, tomato, spicy mayo and signature slaw.
Alaska: Eastern European Store & Deli
Locally owned and operated since 2007, this market and deli has brought authentic Eastern European fare to the Last Frontier. The shop features a wide mix of traditional foods from Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Germany, and even France and Italy. Offerings include sandwiches stuffed with meats like garlic ham, salami and cervelat (a European sausage). The most-popular dishes, though, are the regional specialties sold as prepared foods. Locals stop in to load up on halupki (cabbage rolls) and pierogies, as well as the shopâ s best-selling borscht and the delicate little Russian dumplings known as pelmeni.
Wisconsin: Bunzel’s Meat Market
This old-fashioned Milwaukee meat market has been family-owned and operated for four generations. It’s sort of like the Cheers of markets — the staff, at least, seem to know the names and preferences of all their regular customers. That personal approach is a big part of what has led to the butcher shop’s enduring success. There’s also the food: beef made from hand-selected Wisconsin cattle, specialty sausage crafted in-house, award-winning beef jerky and a full selection of prepared foods. Head to the cold deli case for homemade treats like potato salads, chicken salads and fresh pasta. And the hot lunch and dinner specials showcase Bunzel’s high-quality products in ready-to-go plates and sandwiches featuring barbecue pulled pork, grilled brats, Salisbury steak and more.
Rhode Island: Hudson Street Deli
Get into an Italian grinder at Hudson Street Deli in Providence. This wicked-good sandwich starts with pillowy bread from locally-owned Crugnale Bakery. It’s heartier, fresher and sturdier than your average sub roll, all the better for holding together the mound of meat and toppings stuffed into it center. Ham, Genoa salami, pepperoni, provolone, tomato, lettuce, onion, banana peppers, olive oil, vinegar Italian salsa verde and mayo are all loaded into the roll to make a sandwich that probably weighs as much as a bowling ball. If you’re looking for something a bit more scaled back, you can always forgo the grinder and build your own sandwich or salad with customizable options.
Kansas: Werner’s Fine Sausages
Werner’s has been slinging house-made sausages since the early 1970s. That’s when German-born Werner — the Werner — Wolhert bought the 1898 Swedish shop, Swanson’s, along with all its recipes. He soon moved the operation to downtown Mission, Kansas, to be closer to the city’s thriving German businesses, and also expanded the existing wurst menu with the techniques he learned in his home country. Those Old-World sausages still hold a prominent place on the menu, but current owners David and Judy Miller have also introduced some American mash-ups. Among the new-school sausage selection are options like Andouille and Turkey Italian, as well as Cheddar Bier Brats. Werner’s attracts grilling aficionados who grab their sausages to go, but the place also garners quite the lunch crowd, with locals packing in for schnitzel, corned beef and liverwurst sandwiches.
New Hampshire: Biederman’s Deli
This subterranean one-stop shop brings together a grocery store, deli and pub all under one roof. Along with 26 draft beer lines, Biederman’s offers a large selection of sandwiches like the incredibly popular Balboa (fully customizable fillings tucked in a sub roll toasted with garlic butter and extra cheese). It’s a staple of college life for students at nearby Plymouth State University, with one co-ed even credited with inventing the Zamboa. Cheesy, garlicky bread comes stuffed with a game day-inspired combination of Buffalo chicken, mozzarella cheese, bacon, red onions, Frank's RedHot® sauce and blue cheese. A final flurry of lettuce adds a touch of green and some crunch.
Florida: Josh's Deli
Tucked away in the historically Jewish town of Surfside, this unorthodox deli cheekily bills itself as "everything you never wanted in a traditional Jewish deli." One peek at the menu and it's clear this place strays far from the standard Jewish deli. Non-kosher items crowd the menu, with options that include Krunchy Spicy Tuna Latkes with sriracha cream cheese (milk and meat is a big no-no) and Lobster Jewchachos, a shellfish-heavy dish heaped with mole, avocado salad, cheese and an over-easy egg. Tradition isn't completely ignored, though, with space on the menu carved out for familiar deli staples. Don't sleep on the turkey, corned beef and pastrami. They're expertly cured, smoked and/or roasted in-house, then served with the customary pickle, slaw and fries or salad.
Alabama: Ranelli’s Deli & Cafe
This family-owned and -operated restaurant has been feeding Birmingham’s Southside for more than 40 years. Stepping into this spot is almost like walking into a time capsule from 1971 — in the best way possible. The concert poster- and photo-covered walls are capped with vintage musical instruments and records hanging from the ceiling. The sound of ‘70s rock provides the soundtrack, and the handwritten menu hasn’t changed much since Ranelli’s first opened. The place is still hailed for its affordable salads, pastas (including homemade lasagna) and sandwiches, available on disposable plates for dine-in or take-away. The signature dish is the somewhat ironically named Richman’s Po-Boy. Fresh Italian bread is packed with ham, corned beef, peppered beef, Genoa salami, pastrami and two cheeses (Swiss and provolone), then crowned with Ranelli’s olive salad. This housemade mix of green and black olives in a peppery dressing is famous in its own right — and can be ordered by the pint.