To Thine Own Deli Order Be True

No pressure, but when it's your turn at bat, you've gotta be ready.

September 27, 2017 ● 2 min read

By Richie Nakano | Getty Images

Getting a deli order just right is fraught with peril.

For every ethereal chicken parm, with the bread toasted just right, the sauce holding on the edges of the bread, and the chicken crisp, moist, and flavorful, there are ten dry-ass, rage-inducing turkey sandwiches. Ordering right at a deli is a fine art, and the beauty is all in the details. Here's some rules to live by, and orders to straight-up steal. 

It Doesn’t Have To Be Fancy

Anthony Strong, Consulting Chef, San Francisco | BLTA. Even out of tomato season. The less "special" the better. White bread. Overcooked bacon. Oh, and quite a bit of mayo.  

Chefs In Seattle Are About That Pastrami Life

Clare Gordon, Pastry Chef, General Porpoise Coffee and Doughnuts, Seattle | Pastrami on rye with mustard and Russian dressing. Classic. And lots of pickles on the side.  

Jeffrey Vance, Chef, No Anchor Bar/Navy Strength, Seattle | Definitely a Reuben. Preferably on pumpernickel rye. With extra sauerkraut and grimy pre-made 1000 island. The meat to bread ratio has to be just right for me. Almost 50/50. I’m getting too old for the meat sweats.  

Italian Combos Rarely Disappoint

Matthew Jennings, Townsman, Boston | Large Italian, toasted, with everything, extra hots, mayo, oil and vinegar. We call that a grinder here in Boston. Not a sandwich. Don’t insult me.  

BJ Smith, Smokehouse Tavern/Smokehouse Provisions, Kim Jong Smokehouse, Portland | Italian style. Italian cold cuts, provolone, red onion, shredded lettuce, peppers, vinegar and oil, jalapeño chips, mac salad if they have it. Lime soda water 100%.  

When You Have Your Order Memorized

David Bazirgan, Bambara, Boston | Rare roast beef, cheddar, horseradish mayo, lettuce, tomato, hots, on an onion roll. BBQ chips. Everyone fucks up potato salad. I also love Funyuns. Also, I'm a Cool Ranch guy. If the roast beef isn't rare, I'm getting my money back and walking.  

Matt Davidson, Delfina Restaurant Group, San Francisco | Turkey and roast beef, extra mayo, American cheese and any kind of chocolate chip cookie they have. On Dutch crunch like a true Bay Area Californian.   

Kim Alter, Nightbird, San Francisco | In SF...a Roxie at Roxie's Market. Dutch crunch, all the sliced meats, pepperoncini, red onions, artichokes, Italian dressing, some cheeses. It's like $12 and is two meals.  

The Outlier

Jamie Bissonette, Little Donkey, Boston | Liverwurst on rye, raw onion, mustard, and pickles. Yellow mustard, no question.  

Tim Archuleta, Ichi Sushi, San Francisco | Deli Board is an absolute favorite. Not that I don’t go to other deli’s, I do. I eat a lot of sandwich’s, but Deli Board has a special place in my heart. My go-to is the Reuben's Cousin, but my new favorite is the Fatty Matty: Tuna, falafel, and hummus with cheese. Sounds bananas, but it’s bomb! 

The Pro Deli Order

Jess Benefield, Two Ten Jack, Nashville | So we order heavy always: smoked things plate; egg salad, smoked trout spread, sturgeon. Potato latkes with sour cream AND apple sauce. Pastrami with brown mustard on rye. Whole half-sour pickles. Macaroni salad.