Immigrant Jews came to America in the 1800s and with them, they brought not only their religion and culture, but they also brought a set of business ideas and manners. There is one type of business that most people can relate to the Jewish community and it is the delis or delicatessens. This type of retail establishment sells a wide variety of foreign or rare prepared foods which may include sandwiches or cold cuts. Yosef Meystel knows that in the United States, most delis look like cafeterias with tables in them and menus with a wide range of products including salads and baked goods.
Delis were first created in Germany in the 1700s and were brought to America by Jewish immigrants a hundred years later. Ashkenazi Jews were the first ones in charge of making this type of business popular among the American culture, offering a place similar to a cafeteria where customers could order a wide variety of products including salads, pasta, potatoes, and seafood. This places where commonly found in cities with large Jewish populations such as New York or Chicago.
Chicago was not immune to Jews when they first came to America. In fact, the wind city soon became one of the Jewish main centers in America, holding one of the biggest Jewish populations. This made it possible for the city to be home for some of the eldest and most iconic Jewish Delis in Illinois.
France’s Deli is the oldest Deli in Chicago, operating since 1938. It is located in Lincoln Park and it is well known for offering the best Jewish breakfast in Chicago and the best Reuben Sandwich (a sandwich made of corned beef, chucrut and Swiss cheese). This Deli is recommended to visitors in Chicago since it is a traditional place to have breakfast or lunch close to Lincoln Park.
The Deli is compared to the famous Katz’s Deli in New York and its vintage style allows it to be evocative of what once was called Jew Town in 1949. Owned at first by two Jewish brothers, France’s Deli was bought in 1967 by the Gelman family, who still owns it today and moved it from its original location in Clark and Fullerton in 1988.
This Jewish business was known for its huge size portions that later changed to smaller dishes once the neighborhood became younger and new generations claimed for healthier Jewish food. Nevertheless, when customers come inside the deli, they can still feel the heritage of classic Jewish food popping up from the menu
Kaufman’s Deli & Bakery
Located at Dempster Street in Skokie, Kaufman’s Deli has been a landmark in Chicago for decades. Operating as a counter deli, the business offers diverse Eastern European foods which include bread and pastries manufactured in situ.
The business first opened its doors in 1969 and was founded by Maury Kaufman as a classic Jewish deli, with tables and chairs that gave it a coffee shop look. Its signature meats were pastrami and corned beef and, among the best-baked goods, customers could find fresh bagels and rye bread. In time, hot soup was also offered and customers could buy celery soda and pickle barrels. These signature preparations are still served today.
The deli claims to have proud workers who are always willing to prepare the best Jewish comfort food in Chicago. They even state that they have better bagels than the ones found in New York. Regardless this opinions, the deli is for sure one of the best delis found in Chicago by far and have a delivery service that will always allow customers to have its products at their door.
Max’s Deli & Restaurant
Founded and ran by Greg and Joey, a couple of Jewish brothers, Max’s Deli is a deli located in a suburban strip mall in Highland Park, on the north shore of Chicago and it is recognized as the place were the best pastrami sandwich can be found in the wind city.
This deli has everything; it offers the old-school New York style as well as a set of delicious sandwiches, corned beef, a whitefish salad, black and white cookies and freshly baked bagels. Customers can pick a nice place right by the window and choose something from a variety of options in the menu. Max’s deli is famous for the size of their sandwiches sell at a low cost.
Max’s deli owners were both businessmen working for the food industry before they realized it was time to start their own business. After traveling for a while and discovering the best recipes for their deli, they structured the restaurant policies and Max’s deli started to take shape. Both brothers have innovative ideas and their main goal is to keep clients satisfied and with their mouths full. This is how the have gained the right to participate in different contests in New York representing Chicago as food experts.
* Featured Image courtesy of discopalace at Flickr.com