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Good pastrami. Walking distance. Swoon.

Good pastrami. Walking distance. Swoon.
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  • Good pastrami. Walking distance. Swoon.

    Post #1 - August 6th, 2004, 11:19 pm
    Post #1 - August 6th, 2004, 11:19 pm Post #1 - August 6th, 2004, 11:19 pm
    I have no idea why the microwaved Vienna Beef pastrami at JB's Deli, which occupies the front half of the pharmacy at Clark and Catalpa at the north end of Andersonville, tasted so good, but there you have it. I still give the nod for best I've had in this city to Uncle Abe's Deli, on Franklin just north of the Sears Tower, but that's pretty inaccessible to me these days, and as noted JB's Deli is currently a short walk. Flow is a little odd -- order the sandwich at the deli counter in front, trot back to pay, then back up to the counter to eat -- but aside from that, it was a treat for me, especially with Dr. Brown's cream soda (cel-ray is available for purists) to wash it down with.
  • Post #2 - August 10th, 2004, 1:33 pm
    Post #2 - August 10th, 2004, 1:33 pm Post #2 - August 10th, 2004, 1:33 pm
    I'll concur on Uncle Abe's, just had a corned beef and swiss on rye & matzo ball soup from there about half and hour ago and it was pretty damn tasty (burp). I don't know how they stay open, there's a Quizno's two doors down and it's completely sabotaged their business. They used to have three guys working the deli counter, now they're down to one. Will probably be writing nostalgically about this place soon, although they've hung in there against the corporate titan for over a year now.

    Uncle Abe's Deli
    122 S. Franklin St
    (312) 425-9983
  • Post #3 - August 10th, 2004, 2:12 pm
    Post #3 - August 10th, 2004, 2:12 pm Post #3 - August 10th, 2004, 2:12 pm
    Fast Eddie wrote:I'll concur on Uncle Abe's, just had a corned beef and swiss on rye & matzo ball soup from there about half and hour ago and it was pretty damn tasty (burp). I don't know how they stay open, there's a Quizno's two doors down and it's completely sabotaged their business. They used to have three guys working the deli counter, now they're down to one. Will probably be writing nostalgically about this place soon, although they've hung in there against the corporate titan for over a year now.

    Uncle Abe's Deli
    122 S. Franklin St
    (312) 425-9983

    Back in the Good Ol' Days, that Quizno's location was a Let Them Eat Cake spot that daily made roast beef, chicken, and ham. Served generous portions on sandwiches until the day's supply ran out. Great stuff and the decision of eating there or at Uncle Abe's was a no-lose deal.

    Sorry to hear that Uncle Abe's is having such a tough time. I haven't worked in the neighborhood in two years, but back then they often had a line through the door. Shame that either there's been that much turnover in employees around there or people have such short memories.
  • Post #4 - November 18th, 2004, 8:03 pm
    Post #4 - November 18th, 2004, 8:03 pm Post #4 - November 18th, 2004, 8:03 pm
    I went to Uncle Abe's today, which was my first visit, and I was quite impressed. First, I'll note that despite worries about Quizno's competition next door, they were doing a brisk business around noon today at Abe's. I stuck with a standard corned beef on rye bread (which was on special today) and had the tomato and orzo soup. The sandwich was huge, more than I could finish (although I wanted to), overstuffed with mounds of very tender and not overly lean corned beef. (As an aside, I'm not in the camp that looks for "lean" corned beef; it's never as tasty, and besides, even "lean" corned beef is clearly rotten for your health, so it's kinda like going for low-fat cheesecake or alcohol free beer.) I would say in a blind tasting, I couldn't tell this corned beef from an equivalent sandwich from Manny's, even though the corned beef here was pre-sliced and sitting on a steam table. The soup was also very good, although I found myself wishing I'd sprung an extra $2.50 for matzoh ball soup, which looked that much better. And that was something I easily could have afforded to do, as I was amazed by the value here; with a soda, I paid under $7.00 for this meal (there was a $0.50 discount on the corned beef today, but even at full price, that's a real bargain.) Soup comes free with the sandwich, and we're talking a whole bowl of soup, here. Probably would've spent about $12 or $13 for the same meal at Manny's. The only aspect of this experience I didn't like had nothing to do with Abe's or the food. Abe's shares space with Marquette Inn, and they only have three tiny tables for Abe's customers -- and if you're like me, you'll get angrily and very rudely shooed away from the Marquette Inn tables if you happen, as I did, to occupy the wrong pew. Clearly, Abe's is best for carryout (or perhaps to visit on an off hour, when the crusty Marquette table monitor is on siesta).
  • Post #5 - November 18th, 2004, 9:48 pm
    Post #5 - November 18th, 2004, 9:48 pm Post #5 - November 18th, 2004, 9:48 pm
    Bizarrely, I was at Uncle Abe's-- at least a Marquette Inn claiming to also be Uncle Abe's-- today. I included it in this post.
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  • Post #6 - November 19th, 2004, 12:56 am
    Post #6 - November 19th, 2004, 12:56 am Post #6 - November 19th, 2004, 12:56 am
    I've never written about Abe's, the single closest restaurant to my workplace that's not in the same building. Having given it the college try a few times, I'm prepared to say that the sandwiches are not good, though the "free" soup generally is solid. My last sandwich was my last. The guys microwaved a packet of astoundingly salty pastrami product and placed it on the mushy Jewel "rye" that is Wonderbread with some kind of food coloring.

    To compare this sandwich to the stuff they slice to order at Manny's is really not fair, in my humble opinion.

    My favorites in the Loop are documented elsewhere. But I would add that the 65 mini-chain has opened an entirely pleasant new place north of the Board of Trade, in the ped plaza with the fountain. Not much different from the others in terms of menu, but several items are now made to order only, including some ok noodle dishes and soups, and they have a pretty extensive menu of tropical fruit shakes.
  • Post #7 - November 19th, 2004, 7:22 am
    Post #7 - November 19th, 2004, 7:22 am Post #7 - November 19th, 2004, 7:22 am
    JeffB -- Sounds like I had a very different experience. No microwaving and the bread wasn't half bad for me yesterday (although it had trouble keeping up with the amount of meat stuffed in there). When was your last visit?

    Mike -- I didn't see you, but it sounds like you got official Marquette Inn seating, at least. If you could tell with your dilated eyes, was the reuben prepared by the Uncle Abe's guys or the regular Marquette kitchen?
  • Post #8 - November 19th, 2004, 7:37 am
    Post #8 - November 19th, 2004, 7:37 am Post #8 - November 19th, 2004, 7:37 am
    Well, now I have to wonder. Are there really two separate food preparation operations at work there? If so, then I guess I had a Marquette Inn Reuben, not an Uncle Abe's one.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #9 - November 19th, 2004, 12:08 pm
    Post #9 - November 19th, 2004, 12:08 pm Post #9 - November 19th, 2004, 12:08 pm
    Mike -- Sounds like we need to send in a sandwich assault team. I know for sure what I got was an Abe's, as I stood in their line to pick it up; the provenance of your soggy reuben is unclear. It may be instructive to send one person to the line and have another sit in Marquette's space (trust me, it's easy to figure that part out, just look for the angry shoosher man), and order the same sandwich, then see what each one gets.

    (By the way, I still stand behind my evaluation yesterday. Maybe I was just incredibly lucky, but I've eaten a LOT of Manny's sandwiches over the past seven or eight years, and the corned beef I got at Abe's yesterday ranked right up there. At $6.00 a pop, I'd say Abe's is worth at least another go.)
  • Post #10 - November 19th, 2004, 1:16 pm
    Post #10 - November 19th, 2004, 1:16 pm Post #10 - November 19th, 2004, 1:16 pm
    FWIW, as a longtime booster of the place, I can speak only of the pastrami at Uncle Abe's; that's all I've ever had there and I've always been very happy with it, so I've never gotten anything else. (I have to say I'm also a fan of the tomato-orzo soup, which I remember being just a touch thin and oily but flavorful.) I've only had Manny's pastrami once, around four years ago, so I'm not going to venture that opinion.
  • Post #11 - November 19th, 2004, 2:13 pm
    Post #11 - November 19th, 2004, 2:13 pm Post #11 - November 19th, 2004, 2:13 pm
    To be extra fair, lots of folks around here love Abe's. Like I said, the soup's good. The times I've been there for a sandwich have all been very late, well after the lunch rush. Maybe they are just going through the motions. The microwave is there for all to see. My last, and I mean last, I think, sandwich there was last week.

    Speaking of sandwiches, anyone been to Perry's since Perry split? His brisket, made each morning, was good.
  • Post #12 - December 3rd, 2004, 7:57 pm
    Post #12 - December 3rd, 2004, 7:57 pm Post #12 - December 3rd, 2004, 7:57 pm
    A follow-up posting. Just to make sure I wasn't just lucky on my first visit, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Mrs. JiLS and I (both of us having business in the Loop that day) met for lunch at Uncle Abe's. The place was basically deserted on this post-holiday, so we had no issues with the table-shoosher (although we did in fact sit at one of the three "official" Uncle Abe's tables, we weren't crowded like you are on a normal day when the line sort of bumps elbows with you, and we probably could've cheated without being noticed anyway. I tried the pastrami, which I'd give a solid "B-". Not as good as Manny's or some others I've had, but it was still very good and a super deal at six and a quarter. Mrs. JiLS was enthralled with her egg salad sandwich on white, which was made just the way she likes it -- i.e., with nothing "weird" tossed in (pickle, pimento, what have you), just the way she would have made it for herself, but without the labor. The free chicken noodle soup was delicious (chicken noodle was the only choice, probably because the anticipated small post-holiday crowds didn't warrant making the other two soups of the day). With two bottomless sodas, the tab was about $13.00.
  • Post #13 - December 7th, 2004, 3:42 pm
    Post #13 - December 7th, 2004, 3:42 pm Post #13 - December 7th, 2004, 3:42 pm
    Bob S. wrote:I have no idea why the microwaved Vienna Beef pastrami at JB's Deli, which occupies the front half of the pharmacy at Clark and Catalpa at the north end of Andersonville, tasted so good, but there you have it. I still give the nod for best I've had in this city to Uncle Abe's Deli, on Franklin just north of the Sears Tower, but that's pretty inaccessible to me these days, and as noted JB's Deli is currently a short walk. Flow is a little odd -- order the sandwich at the deli counter in front, trot back to pay, then back up to the counter to eat -- but aside from that, it was a treat for me, especially with Dr. Brown's cream soda (cel-ray is available for purists) to wash it down with.


    I have tried to like this place. I mean, it is not that I don't like it, but I certainly can't recommend the same sandwich. Between the shaved Vienna pastrami and the super-soft and moist Rosen's rye, it only takes a couple of mandibular gyrations before you've got a mouthful of paste. I told Mike G. once, that what that sandwich needs is a good dose of air. It just squishes up something nasty. I'll get a roast beef and cheddar or a chicken salad, if I'm sandwiching at J.B.'s.

    If microwaved pastrami works for you, I'd suggest that you give Thorndale Deli a try. Unless you direct them to do otherwise, Thorndale Deli shaves the Vienna pastrami, as well, but the seeded rye from Kaufman's Delicatessen is the mitigating factor here.

    Like J.B.'s Deli, Thorndale Deli also serves Dr. Brown's sodas, homemade soups, pickles, and chips. But it really is more in the vein of an oldtime Jewish Deli, as they also sell bagels, challah, kichel (sugared and plain), kreplach, kishke, nova, salty lox, homemade gefilte fish, and herring.

    Thorndale Deli doesn't get much press, and I find that a bit sad. Don't misunderstand, I am not suggesting that it is an unheralded star, but I do wonder how much longer it will be around. I hate to see these types of honest-to-goodness Delis disappear from our landscape.

    Image

    It is located right under the Thorndale Red Line platform.

    Thorndale Deli
    1106 West Thorndale Ave.
    773.878.3840

    Regards,
    Erik M.

    *post edited to correct the spelling of Kaufman's Delicatessen.
    Last edited by Erik M. on December 9th, 2004, 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #14 - December 7th, 2004, 4:14 pm
    Post #14 - December 7th, 2004, 4:14 pm Post #14 - December 7th, 2004, 4:14 pm
    Glad to see Thorndale Deli is still going strong. Back in the day, oh must be close to 20 years ago, my wife and I lived up in the Winthrop/Kenmore corridor around the corner from Thorndale. While the exodus of the Jewish population from that neighborhood had begun long before we moved there on the weekends you'd see cars with windshield stickers from Skokie and Northbrook picking up deli trays and whatnots - coming back 'home' for the good stuff.

    This was back when attending a Cubs game didn't require intense logistical planning and one could pickup bleachers tickets at the park on the day of the game (!!!!). On weekends we'd walk to Thorndale to have a bagel with lox & cheese for breakfast and then grab a couple of nice sandwiches on kaiser or rye and hop the L down to Wrigley with our brown bag lunches. Sitting in the sun, getting served beer in the bleachers by a vendor (yes children, they really used to have them) and knoshing on good sandwiches while watching the Cubs . . . ummm, lose . . . a lot . . . made for some great summer weekends. My veggie wife always liked their egg salad, I'll have to make it a point to stop in next time I'm up there.
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #15 - December 7th, 2004, 4:15 pm
    Post #15 - December 7th, 2004, 4:15 pm Post #15 - December 7th, 2004, 4:15 pm
    So glad to hear about Thorndale Deli being worth a stop if one is local. I'd always seen it, but somehow had unconsciously assumed that it couldn't be a real deli, just one of those soulless mini-mart type places that abuses the word "deli." What with the very nice metropolis coffee on Granville (I think) and Bornhofen's right there on B'way, that little stretch is looking very inviting.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #16 - December 7th, 2004, 4:40 pm
    Post #16 - December 7th, 2004, 4:40 pm Post #16 - December 7th, 2004, 4:40 pm
    mrbarolo wrote:What with the very nice metropolis coffee on Granville (I think) and Bornhofen's right there on B'way, that little stretch is looking very inviting.


    The East African Restaurant is decent. So, too, the Bosnian place, Bosanski Okusi, across the street. And, if you believe what LLS has to say*, there's Indie Cafe, in that block, too--Thai that is "almost as good as Arun's at a tenth of the price."


    East African Restaurant
    5959 N. Broadway

    Bosanski Okusi
    6014 N. Broadway

    Indie Cafe
    5951 N. Broadway


    Erik M.

    * Splutter.
  • Post #17 - December 7th, 2004, 5:28 pm
    Post #17 - December 7th, 2004, 5:28 pm Post #17 - December 7th, 2004, 5:28 pm
    I can't even explain how, thanks in part to this thread, happy I am that I will be home in New York in less than a week. I plan to go directly to either Katz's or 2nd Ave. (depending on who I'm with) and GORGE myself. I may just have to post photos.
  • Post #18 - December 7th, 2004, 5:51 pm
    Post #18 - December 7th, 2004, 5:51 pm Post #18 - December 7th, 2004, 5:51 pm
    AnneVdV wrote:I can't even explain how, thanks in part to this thread, happy I am that I will be home in New York in less than a week. I plan to go directly to either Katz's or 2nd Ave. (depending on who I'm with) and GORGE myself. I may just have to post photos.


    If you manage, I'll be curious to see how your pics compare with those of the sandwich at Langer's, not Thorndale. :wink:

    Having been to Langer's, Katz's, and 2nd Ave., I already have an opinion about how the sandwiches compare in terms of taste...

    Erik M.
  • Post #19 - December 7th, 2004, 11:32 pm
    Post #19 - December 7th, 2004, 11:32 pm Post #19 - December 7th, 2004, 11:32 pm
    Thanks for the comments, Erik (and those who followed up too). I've no qualm about saying it was largely the fact that I was getting one of the very few pastrami sandwiches I'll have in a year here, on something that at least tasted like rye, at a pharmacy with a sandwich counter (big nostalgia points there) that made me enjoy it, but you know, if it isn't as good as what's available on the East Coast, if I have to relegate it to as-good-as-it-gets-here guilty pleasure, I'm OK with that. As you know, I'm much less interested, in general, in traveling the city far and wide to find the pinnacles and peaks and more interested in finding the little joys of my neighborhood, and that place was one of those.

    And thanks much for the Thorndale Deli pointer. The phrase "the next time I'm in that neighborhood at lunchtime" unfortunately has a strong ironic component these days, but I'll head over there when I can.

    Incidentally, when last I was there, JB's sold New York Bialys bagels and had a deli case. Sounds like those might be gone?
  • Post #20 - June 12th, 2007, 7:15 pm
    Post #20 - June 12th, 2007, 7:15 pm Post #20 - June 12th, 2007, 7:15 pm
    Hi,

    Today after spending an hour perusing used books at the Little Company used book sale at Old Orchard. I found lunch at Kaufman's on Dempster, specifically fatty pastrami on rye with mustard, fresh pickle, vinegar and oil coleslaw and dark cherry pop:

    Image

    I was fortunate a lady who also wanted fatty pastrami kept coaxing the countermen to do better in the fatty department. I just said I want what she is getting, too.

    I'm so often nearby, I really need to come visit more often than I do.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #21 - June 12th, 2007, 11:58 pm
    Post #21 - June 12th, 2007, 11:58 pm Post #21 - June 12th, 2007, 11:58 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:Today after spending an hour perusing used books at the Little Company used book sale at Old Orchard. I found lunch at Kaufman's on Dempster, specifically fatty pastrami on rye with mustard, fresh pickle, vinegar and oil coleslaw and dark cherry pop:

    ...

    I was fortunate a lady who also wanted fatty pastrami kept coaxing the countermen to do better in the fatty department. I just said I want what she is getting, too.

    I'm so often nearby, I really need to come visit more often than I do.

    That reminds me... after picking up my hot dogs from the Romanian Kosher Sausage Company on Clark the other week, I remembered an off-LTH forum posting somewhere about the pastrami on offer, $3.49 per sandwich. I didn't want to cook up the dogs for lunch right away, so the pastrami it was. I picked the less fatty (and somewhat spicier?) Romanian version of the meat and went with a kaiser roll as the rye wasn't highly recommended (ah, here's that forum post). It made for a nice stopgap meal at home.

    Romanian Kosher Sausage Co.
    7200 N. Clark St.
    Chicago, IL 60626
    (773) 761-4141

    The hours aren't incredibly long, they close early on Fridays, and I believe they're closed for the Sabbath (but open a bit on Sundays), so make sure to call ahead if you go out of your way to make a trip. Edit: Ah, d4v3's got the hours on the dedicated RKS thread, too:

    mon-wed 8:30-5:00
    thu 8:30-6:00
    fri 8:00-2:30
    sat closed
    sun 8:00-3:00

    Sorry, no pictures,
    Dan
  • Post #22 - June 13th, 2007, 7:20 am
    Post #22 - June 13th, 2007, 7:20 am Post #22 - June 13th, 2007, 7:20 am
    Hi FFS,

    How generous was the meat for that price level? I paid at least double for my sandwich at Kaufmans.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #23 - June 13th, 2007, 9:01 am
    Post #23 - June 13th, 2007, 9:01 am Post #23 - June 13th, 2007, 9:01 am
    I've gotten the pastrami sandwich at Augustino's Rock and Roll Deli about three times now...twice it was pretty good with a nice fat content...once it was dry and blah. However, the slaw that they serve with it is awesome.

    I think the location inside of Sears Tower has been open for less than half a year or so.

    Much much better than the crappy pastrami sandwich I got served from Uncle Abe's a few months back.
  • Post #24 - June 13th, 2007, 11:13 am
    Post #24 - June 13th, 2007, 11:13 am Post #24 - June 13th, 2007, 11:13 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Hi FFS,

    How generous was the meat for that price level? I paid at least double for my sandwich at Kaufmans.

    From what I remember, I probably got half (or possibly less) of the amount of meat depicted in your photo of Kaufman's pastrami at Romanian Kosher, so try not to get your hopes up too high on the value proposition there. The generous portion shown in your pic did inspire me to post on my experiences, however, so maybe I'll have to make the trek to Kaufman's someday soon just to compare.

    Thanks again for that pic,
    Dan
  • Post #25 - December 11th, 2008, 4:09 pm
    Post #25 - December 11th, 2008, 4:09 pm Post #25 - December 11th, 2008, 4:09 pm
    Hi All, brand new to the board, but trolling for quite some time.

    I recently lived in L.A. for 4 years, and pretty much one of the only things I MISS, other than Taco Trucks and Father's Office Burgers, is really, really good Pastrami, mainly from an institution called "Langers."

    I was raised on Manny's (love majority of offerings, but pastrami is too fast-foody for me), I've had Eleven City (ok) , Steve's Deli (close but very rubbery and chewy) and Vienna Beef at various joints (good in a jam). I'm looking for house-cured, thick cut, fatty but very chewable pastrami. The kind of fat that dissolves in the mouth without a fight. I need it. I need it bad.

    Does it exist in this city?

    CheffJeff
    Anything worth doing is worth overdoing
  • Post #26 - December 11th, 2008, 4:11 pm
    Post #26 - December 11th, 2008, 4:11 pm Post #26 - December 11th, 2008, 4:11 pm
    Welcome back to Chicago. I'd suggest lunch at Lawry's.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #27 - December 11th, 2008, 10:57 pm
    Post #27 - December 11th, 2008, 10:57 pm Post #27 - December 11th, 2008, 10:57 pm
    Hi,

    You may want to travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Jake's Delicatessan.

    You could also make it yourself.

    Of course it always comes down to a matter of taste, you may have to try some of the various vendors upthread to find what you like. If you find what you desire, I hope you will share with us your thoughts.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #28 - December 11th, 2008, 11:15 pm
    Post #28 - December 11th, 2008, 11:15 pm Post #28 - December 11th, 2008, 11:15 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:Of course it always comes down to a matter of taste, you may have to try some of the various vendors upthread to find what you like.

    C2,

    I've tried the "various vendors" including Jake's in Milwaukee, and even occasionally roll my own pastrami, and I can tell you if Langer's in Los Angeles is CheffJeff's benchmark he may as well buy a plane ticket when the urge strikes.

    Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of Manny's and Jake's, but Langer's pastrami is in a class by itself.

    Langer's Pastrami

    Image

    Al Langer [RIP]

    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #29 - December 30th, 2008, 10:41 am
    Post #29 - December 30th, 2008, 10:41 am Post #29 - December 30th, 2008, 10:41 am
    Thorndale Deli, the Jewish deli which has gotten some LTH love, is closing, according to Crain's. The article tells a pretty sad story.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food

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