America's Best Delis

Attman’s Delicatessen
Photo: Photo Courtesy of Attman's Deli

There are few things better than an iconic American delicatessen, where high-quality ingredients and oversize servings are the norm. Whether you're looking for Jewish appetizing, a Polish sausage emporium or a temple of Italian specialties, you'll find it on this list of 22 of the best delis in America.—Roger Kamholz

01 of 22

Zingerman's; Ann Arbor, MI

Photo Courtesy of 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 22

2nd Avenue Deli; New York City

2nd Avenue Deli
Photo © 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 $45 Triple Bypass, which adds a third layer of gustatory indulgence.)

03 of 22

Barney Greengrass; New York City

Barney Greengrass
Photo © 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 22

Katz's Delicatessen; New York City

Katz’s Delicatessen
Photo Courtesy of 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 22

Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen; San Francisco

Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen
Photo © 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 22

Stopsky's Delicatessen; Mercer Island, WA

Stopsky’s Delicatessen
Photo Courtesy of Stopkys Deli

The house philosophy at this upstart deli could be summed up as "tradition, updated." Latke Benedict—this is the Pacific Northwest: get it with salmon—anchors the breakfast menu. The burger is house-ground chuck and brisket. And a vegetarian Reuben features smoked mushrooms in place of corned beef.

07 of 22

Canter's Deli; Los Angeles

Canter’s Deli
Photo © 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. (And note, Canter's also got in on L.A.'s food-truck craze, opening its own mobile kitchen in 2010.)

08 of 22

Mile End; Brooklyn

Mile End
Photo © Rae Bernamoff

The "hipster" tag gets applied to this tiny four-year-old favorite. 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 yet more gourmet options at dinner, like fried artichokes with cauliflower-leek puree and roasted-sunchoke salad with curried yogurt and sunflower seeds.

09 of 22

Nate 'n Al; Beverly Hills

Nate ’n Al
Photo Courtesy of Nate 'n Al

As befitting a deli in tony Beverly Hills, Nate 'n Al 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 the real claim to fame. Many diners say that these quarter-pound monsters are the best in the entire country.

10 of 22

Kenny and Zuke's; Portland, OR

Kenny and Zuke’s
Photo © Kim Webster

This is a member of the new school of delis, open less than a decade. But the downtown location of Kenny and Zuke's holds on to all of the right customs, like hand-cutting the superlative pastrami to preserve both tradition and juiciness. Have it on the Ken's Special, a sandwich packed in classic fashion with pastrami, chopped liver, coleslaw and Russian dressing.

11 of 22

Manny's Coffee Shop & Deli; Chicago

Manny’s Coffee Shop & Deli
Photo Courtesy of Manny's Coffee Shop and Deli

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

12 of 22

Gene's Sausage Shop & Delicatessen; Chicago

Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen
Photo Courtesy of 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.

13 of 22

Kenny and Ziggy's; Houston

Kenny and Ziggy’s
Photo © Debora Smail

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

14 of 22

Ben's Best Gourmet Deli; Rego Park, NY

Ben’s Best Gourmet Deli
Photo © Eric Ferrar

New York isn't hurting for Jewish delis, but this unassuming spot, opened in 1945, is one of the last surviving kosher delis in Queens. Third-generation owner Jay Parker carries the torch proudly, with a staff that labors over each Old World delicacy served here. In fact, the pastrami is steamed for as long a six hours to unlock its full, fatty potential.

15 of 22

Langer's Delicatessen; Los Angeles

Langer’s Delicatessen
Photo Courtesy of 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 in the pages of the New Yorker.

16 of 22

Roasters' n Toasters; Miami

Roasters’ n Toasters
Photo Courtesy of 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: huge sandwich platters like the West Side Story (corned beef, pastrami, melted Swiss and sauerkraut over a knish) or the Zaftig, an aptly named duo of challah rolls with sliced skirt steak, latkes and apple sauce.

17 of 22

Shapiro's Delicatessen; Indianapolis

Shapiro’s Delicatessen
Photo Courtesy of 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.

18 of 22

Muss & Turner's; Smyrna, GA

Muss & Turner’s
Photo Courtesy of Muss & Turner's

Dixie flavor meets Jewish schmaltz here—a surprisingly wonderful combination. For proof, check out the Bucky Goldstein, a deli sandwich made Southern: house-smoked brisket with Carolina barbecue sauce, pickles, onion rings and spicy mustard.

19 of 22

Saul's Deli; Berkeley

Saul’s Deli
Photo Courtesy of 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 Moroccan-spiced eggplant and grilled chicken liver.

20 of 22

Zaftigs Delicatessen; Brookline, MA

Zaftigs Delicatessen
Photo Courtesy of 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 salmon and dill-flecked sour cream. (And, a word to the wise: You can skip the morning rush and still get the omelet—breakfast is served all day.)

21 of 22

Corti Brothers; Sacramento, CA

Corti Brothers
Photo © 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 current edition includes a 350-word treatise on new olive oil from Majorca.) The meat department stocks nearly everything, including kangaroo or antelope meat, and their sandwiches are legendary for a reason.

22 of 22

Attman's Delicatessen; Baltimore

Attman’s Delicatessen
Photo Courtesy of 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, too.

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