Stemming from the Latin word delicatus, meaning "pleasing," delicatessen means different things in different places.
In Europe, delicatessen indicates high-quality foods with high price points -- they're frequently found in luxury department stores, like Harrods.
Australia follows that interpretation.
But, here in the U.S., when we say deli, we're talking about a mixture of grocery store and fast-casual restaurant.
Sure, there are different variations. Many traditional Eastern European delicatessens offer counter and sit down service with a customary selection of kosher-style fare (think pastrami, briskets, and reubens). However, being that we're the world's largest melting pot, the term also encompasses casual sandwich shops with convenience stores attached.
No matter what definition appeals to you, there's no denying that a good deli is just straight up delicious.
With that, we bring to you the ten best delis in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
Not just a deli, but an entire kosher restaurant -- just in case you didn't pick that up from the name -- this Hollywood spot offers a large selection Middle Eastern and Eastern European fare. Sure, we love the shawarma and shishkabab. And yeah, we're all about the burgers and the hummus. But when we're looking for some smoked turkey and pastrami in Hollywood, this is where it's at.
With over 24 locations throughout the state, this gourmet deli is an institution in Florida. Each one offers glistening cases of sweets and salads, like egg salad, dill chicken salad, whitefish, and black and white cookies. It offers all the Jewish classics: matzo ball soup, stuffed cabbage, crunchy potato latkes, and cheese blintzes. And the sandwiches are as bona fide as you'll get with selections ranging from hot corned beef and pastrami to reubens and brisket, each of which is served on your choice of freshly baked rye, whole wheat, challah, bagel, or deli roll.
Serving Jewish soul food since 1985, this Lauderhill restaurant offers all the old reliables. The cases here are filled with all sorts of delicacies: stuffed cabbage, stuffed peppers, liver, nova, and pickled herring. There's something for everyone -- and every appetite. Served on freshly baked rye, the sandwiches are offered in a variety of sizes; small is five ounces, medium is seven ounces, large is ten ounces. The fillings range from corned beef, pastrami, and tongue to turkey, salami, and ham.
Jewish delis may have seen better days -- they've been shuttering their doors in South Florida and even New York regularly -- but this place is a reminder of what we loved about them in the first place. Brought to you by Gary Zinger, the former owner of Pastrami Queen, which shuttered its doors at the end of 2010, Zinger's serves one of the best deli fare that can be found. Everything is made in-house, from the pastrami, corned beef, and brisket to the award-winning matzo ball soup. It may be a modern version of a relic, but there's a good reason we have fond memories of the past.
Starting as a bakery 50 years ago, then a bagel shop, and finally a full-scale deli, just over a decade ago, this Boynton Beach eatery specializes in serious Eastern European and Jewish delicatessen fare: pastrami, brisket, braised lamb shanks, stewed cabbage, stuffed peppers. At one point, the legendary (and now defunct) Wolfie Cohen's Rascal House threatened to sue for stealing its recipes -- with that allegation, you know it must be good. The spot was even featured on Guy Fieri's Diner, Drive-Ins, and Dives -- and there's your celebrity cred.
From the outside, this looks like your run-of-the-mill convenience store. Step inside during lunch, however, and you'll see a full house with lines snaking around the store from the back deli counter. Here, it's all about the sandwiches; deli-style, made-to-order sandwiches are piled high with Boar's Head meats and cheeses and whatever homemade sauces and extras My Market feels like throwing in. Try the Sicilian sub Rosa: a thick stack of prosciutto, mortadella, capicola, and provolone, topped with fresh basil, sweet peppers, and Italian seasonings.Or go for the French Quarter, a French bread-based hot sub made of Brie, roast beef, "Want Mo!" sauce, and fresh rosemary. No matter which sandwich you chose, it's going to be damn good.
When it comes to classic Eastern European deli fare, this Delray Beach spot has got you covered. In addition to the insider's only tongue sandwich on rye, the extensive menu offers everything from cheese blintzes to sweet-and-sour-stuffed cabbage to, of course, overstuffed house made brisket sandwiches. And nothing goes with a brisket like a cup of chilled borscht (beet soup). Next to the refrigerated cabinet with the corned beefs and pastramis is a second holding no shortage of powdered-sugar sprinkled treats. There's a reason this place has been operating with lines around the corner since 1986 -- because it's serious.
Set in the quickly gentrifying town of Boynton Beach -- a.k.a. South Palm Beach -- this little deli and convenience store has been slapping together sandwiches for more than 20 years. Located right off A1A, next to Nomad Surf Shop, it offers a huge selection of sandwiches (38 to be exact), a wide selection of sides (including pasta salad with a creamy balsamic dressing that is out of this world), more than 150 beers, and multiple cases of sodas. No, it's not your typical deli. It's not Eastern European; and it's certainly not kosher. But it makes some of the best sides and sandwiches in town.
Established over 30 years ago, this Oakland Park deli recently went through a chance of ownership (Queen's native and self-proclaimed "Deli guy," Larry Bruskin took it over in 2012). But it's back and even better than it was originally. Bruskin has spruced up the recipes by making everything from scratch and eliminating MSG from soups and stocks. While it's not fully kosher -- it'll surely slap some cheese on your reuben -- but it offers an array of jewish-style Eastern European specialties like knishes, kugels, nova, lox, whitefish, as well as the consummate corned beef and pastrami sandwiches piled high on savory rye.
There are plenty of places that consider themselves New York style delis, but this place actually hails from the original five boroughs (it has locations in Manhattan, Queens, and Long Island). So for those New Yorkers who like to complain about the subpar food in South Florida, suck it. This Boca Raton spot is legit. It offers everything you'd find up north: whole rotisserie-roasted empire kosher chickens, beef-tongue Polonaise with raisin gravy, homemade stuffed derma, noodle pudding, kasha varnishkas, spinach logs, potato knishes, braised beef brisket, chicken in a pot, Hungarian goulash. And then there's the sandwiches. Served on chewy rye, it has all the meats one would hope for, including tongue, salami, pastrami, and house-pickled corned beef. Look: if you're not happy with the deli delicacies at this place, the problem is most likely you. Just sayin'.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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