House-made pastrami fills a Reuben at Kenny & Zuke's.
When gourmet meets Jewish food in six West Coast delis, the results are mouthwatering.
Bare-bones decor. Brusque service. Slapdash sandwiches. The classic New York–style deli was long overdue for an update. Peter Levitt helped kick-start a trend in 1995 when he took over Saul’s in Berkeley, Calif. (510-848-3354, saulsdeli.com), lining up local farmers as suppliers and making his own dill pickles. Younger chefs took notice.
- Feldman’s Deli in Salt Lake City—touted as “New York chic meets ski chalet comfort”—mimics the look of an open urban loft. The menu pays homage to the owners’ home state, New Jersey, with items including a sloppy joe made with corned beef, pastrami, Thousand Island dressing, and coleslaw on three slices of rye. (801) 906-0369, feldmansdeli.com.
- At Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen in downtown Portland, pastrami still rules, just not always in sandwiches. Popular options include a pastrami Benedict on challah toast for brunch. (503) 222-3354, kennyandzukes.com.
- Although Michael Siegel took inspiration from his family’s recipes for Shorty Goldstein’s Jewish Deli in San Francisco, his chef cred shows. The French dip special: brisket and chanterelles on rye with veal jus. Ask about the secret Chinese menu, Siegel’s nod to the tie between the Jewish people and Chinese food. (415) 986-2676, shortygoldsteins.com.
- At Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen in San Francisco’s Mission District, Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman make everything themselves, smoking their own meats and baking their own rye. “The deli needed to come into this century, ”Bloom says. Exhibit A? Their vegan Reuben heaped with smoked trumpet mushrooms. (415) 787-3354, wisesonsdeli.com.
- At Stopsky’s Delicatessen just outside Seattle the slogan is “Tradition, Updated.” Which explains the brunch burger made with ground chuck and brisket, “steak on” (beef with bacon), latke, egg, and hollandaise sauce. (206) 236-4564, stopskysdelicatessen.com.
Photography by Shawn Linehan
This article was first published in May 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.