America's Best Delis

Our list of the best delis in America includes old stalwarts and a few young upstarts.

Close-up of a corned beef sandwich with coleslaw at Nate 'n Al's.

Nate 'n Al's

The dependable American delicatessen is iconic, where high-quality ingredients and oversized servings are the norm. Whether you're looking for Jewish appetizing, a Polish sausage emporium, or a temple of Italian specialties, you'll find the best deli for the deli food you crave on this list.

01 of 20

Zingerman's (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

Close-up of a sliced reuben sandwich at Zingerman’s


After three decades of growth, Zingerman's is a full-on mini empire, rather than a single destination. (The chef at Zingerman's Roadhouse restaurant even won a James Beard award in 2011.) But the heart of the operation remains the downtown deli, epitomized by a glorious selection of sandwiches and Jewish comfort foods.

02 of 20

2nd Avenue Deli (New York City)

A halved and skewered Triple Bypass sandwich at 2nd Avenue Deli

Maya Jiménez

The famous 2nd Avenue Deli has actually been located on 33rd Street since 2007. What remains, though, is a steadfast commitment to kosher cuisine. The classics are all here, and as good as they've ever been, but it's worth noting that you can also get a sandwich called the Instant Heart Attack, with meat sandwiched between two potato pancakes — essentially the Jewish version of the KFC Double Down. (Big spenders can upgrade to the Triple Bypass, pictured above, which adds a third layer of gustatory indulgence.)

03 of 20

Barney Greengrass (New York City)

An assortment of smoked and cured fish served on a platter at Barney Greengrass

Jonathan Bumble

The brunch crowds arrive early at this Upper West Side Jewish appetizing monument. Grab a copy of the Times and join them. Expertly sliced cuts of Nova salmon work as well in the classic scramble with eggs and onions as they do topping a perfect bagel with cream cheese.

04 of 20

Katz's Delicatessen (New York City)

A gigantic pastrami sandwich served with a big pickle at Katz's Delicatessen

Katz's Deli

Every mention of Katz's is legally required to include a reference to Meg Ryan's famous When Harry Met Sally scene (and, indeed, the Lower East Side institution has a sign hanging above the seat where Ryan sat). Yet the real draw here is the fresh-cut pastrami, for which people have been lining up for generations. Get your sandwich (on rye, of course), and as many different kinds of pickles as you can convince the counter guy to give you. Real die-hards wash it all down with a can of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda.

05 of 20

Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen (San Francisco)

A halved sandwich with turkey and avocado at Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen

C+N Creative

What began in 2010 when owners Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman invited friends over for deli dinners has quickly grown to three locations that offer traditional nosh (chopped liver, matzo ball soup) and comfort foods like a bialy with lox, served with Sierra Nevada cream cheese.

06 of 20

Canter's Deli (Los Angeles)

Two types of challah on display at Canter's Deli

Julien Lasseur

Famous for staying open 24 hours a day (and closed only for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), this L.A. landmark is known for its traditional takes on classic Jewish deli staples, and a killer Monte Cristo, served on toasted challah with a dusting of powdered sugar. Before you split, cruise the bakery counter for chocolate babka or rugelach.

07 of 20

Mile End (Brooklyn)

A hotdog loaded with toppings at Mile End

Rae Bernamoff

The "hipster" tag gets applied to this tiny favorite, which opened its doors in 2010. But owner Noah Bernamoff, a native of Montreal who also co-owns a hand-rolled bagel shop, is as committed to the tenets of a Jewish deli as any old-school owner would be. Canadian favorites like smoked meat and poutine are the best sellers here, but the kitchen turns out several kinds of reuben, matzo ball soup, and other deli standards.

08 of 20

Nate 'n Al's (Beverly Hills)

Close-up of a corned beef sandwich with coleslaw at Nate 'n Al's.

Nate 'n Al's

As befitting a deli in tony Beverly Hills, Nate 'n Al's touts the quality of its ingredients. But at this shop — which opened in 1945 and is still run by the Mendelson family — the hot dogs are the star of the menu. Many diners say that these quarter-pound monsters are the best in the entire country.

09 of 20

Manny's Coffee Shop & Deli (Chicago)

Reubens being griddled at Manny's Coffee Shop & Deli

Manny's Coffee Shop and Deli

Way back in 2008, then President-elect Barack Obama arrived here mere weeks after his election victory to pick up three corned beef sandwiches and two cherry pies. That's a solid order at this local institution, which is as famous for its monster sandwiches (they pack almost a pound of meat) as for its golden latkes.

10 of 20

Gene's Sausage Shop & Delicatessen (Chicago)

Long, browned sausages on a plate at Gene's Sausage Shop & Delicatessen

Gene's Sausage Shop & Delicatessen

You must be doing something really right if you're one of the most famous sausage shops in Chicago, a city that takes its encased meat very seriously. At Gene's, the Polish-style knockwursts, Krakowska, and more are all top-notch. But it's the rooftop beer garden, where brats are grilled over live fire, that make it a true destination.

11 of 20

Kenny and Ziggy's (Houston)

A halved triple-decker sandwich at Kenny and Ziggy's, served with a bowl of pickles.

Debora Smail

Of course the smoked-meat experts in Texas are going to know their way around some pastrami. Partner Ziggy Gruber ran delis on both coasts before heading to Houston, so in addition to great beef, the deli offers fantastic chicken soup and textbook-perfect pickles.

12 of 20

Langer's Delicatessen (Los Angeles)

Close-up of a #19 sandwich at Langer's Delicatessen

Langer's Delicatessen

Langer's doesn't stray from the classic Jewish-deli template, but it does nearly everything better than most. The most famous creation is the #19: a hot pastrami, coleslaw, and Swiss cheese on rye. The sandwich is so good that Nora Ephron once immortalized it on the pages of the New Yorker.

13 of 20

Roasters 'n Toasters (Miami)

A big spread of sandwiches and other specialties at Roasters 'n Toasters

Roasters 'n Toasters

Bounty is a key indicator of a great deli, which is why these Florida locations draw plenty of fans. The signature offerings: the Pastrami Melt, served on an onion roll with sautéed onions and Swiss, or the Jewish Cuban, which pairs corned beef, salami, and Swiss with pickles, mayo, and mustard in a griddled and pressed sub roll.

14 of 20

Shapiro's Delicatessen (Indianapolis)

Black and white photo of the founder of Shapiro's Delicatessen

Shapiro's Delicatessen

It's difficult to argue with the crucial stats on this Midwestern darling: more than 100 years of service, an encyclopedic menu of deli meats (including O.G. favorites like smoked tongue), and an in-house bakery that turns out excellent bagels, breads, pies, and cakes.

15 of 20

Muss & Turner's (Smyrna, Georgia)

Interior shot of the deli counter at Muss & Turner's
Photo Courtesy of Muss & Turner's

Dixie flavor meets Jewish schmaltz here — a surprisingly wonderful combination. Deli sandwiches are made Southern with the addition of pickled green tomatoes and a side of collard greens.

16 of 20

Saul's Deli (Berkeley, California)

Interior shot of Saul's Deli

Saul's Deli

Saul's takes all of the fantastic trappings of the traditional Jewish deli and adds 21st-century touches such as a commitment to Fair Trade coffee, organic bread, sustainable meats, and local ingredient sourcing (this is Berkeley, after all). The dinner menu includes elevated options like charred, tahini-drizzled eggplant and grilled chicken liver marinated with baharat.

17 of 20

Zaftigs Delicatessen (Brookline, Massachusetts)

Exterior shot of the entrance to Zaftigs Delicatessen

Zaftigs Delicatessen

Show up on a weekend morning at this deli just outside Beantown proper and expect to see a long line of hungry breakfast fans. Fine delis abound in and around Boston, but Zaftigs is a can't-miss thanks to favorite dishes like an apple-cheddar omelet and latkes served with smoked salmon and dill-flecked sour cream. (A word to the wise: You can skip the morning rush and still get the omelet — breakfast is served all day.)

18 of 20

Corti Brothers (Sacramento, California)

Interior shot of the deli counter at Corti Brothers

Rick Mindermann

This Italian grocery takes its delicacies seriously — so seriously, in fact, that it's been publishing a lengthy newsletter about its offerings since 1967. The meat department stocks more than a dozen sandwich toppings, from salame and sausage to pastrami and meatballs, and their sandwiches are legendary for a reason.

19 of 20

Attman's Delicatessen (Baltimore)

An appetizing dish at Attman's Delicatessen

Attman's Deli

Given that the family-owned Attman's has been a fixture on Charm City's Corned Beef Row since 1915, what do you think you should order here? Then again, the Mighty Matt — a tower of knockwurst, hot pastrami, kraut, and cheese — is pretty tempting.

20 of 20

Kenny and Zuke's (Portland, Oregon)

Close-up of a pastrami sandwich at Kenny and Zuke's

Kim Webster

A member of the new school of delis, Portland's Kenny and Zuke's holds on to all of the right customs, like hand-cutting the superlative pastrami to preserve both tradition and juiciness. The dining destination closed so stop by the bagel spot.

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