Return of the Second Avenue Deli (Or: Don't Eat This Blog Post)

New York City's Second Avenue Deli opened in 1954 and quickly became an institution. When it closed in 2006 because of a lease dispute, people wept. Or at least I did. Now the deli has re-opened in a new location. But is it as good as ever? And what sets a truly great New York deli apart from the pretenders? Win Rosenfeld and I found out...

If you could only eat one more meal at the Second Avenue Deli, what would you order and why?



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chicken and/or matzah ball soup, followed by a tongue sandwich with lots of mustard and saurkraut...and a cream soda...i'm such a health nut!

Sent by jayn | 12:40 PM | 3-17-2008

oops! i forgot to say why....because it would remind me of my grandparents!!!

Sent by jayn | 1:00 PM | 3-17-2008

It's so comforting to see that some things DON'T change, even if the location does. I go for the hot dog w sauerkraut appetizer, followed by tongue, corned beef, chopped liver combo as the main course...dessert is alka seltzer!Love the age/gender diversity in your piece.

Sent by Linda Appel | 3:11 PM | 3-17-2008

Thanks Linda. I personally would have to go gribenes, matzoh ball soup, chopped liver, hot pastrami. As Win said, their pastrami is other-worldly.

Sent by Dan Pashman, NPR | 3:15 PM | 3-17-2008

I forgot why, too...because that's what I love and I'd never be able to finish evrything so I'd get to take at least 1/2 my combo home for one more 2nd Ave deli meal

Sent by Linda Appel | 3:16 PM | 3-17-2008

Short Shameful Confession:
I've never eaten at any deli. Can someone explain what I'm missing? What's the difference between a deli and a sandwich shop?

Sent by Dave Wiley | 4:30 PM | 3-17-2008

Well Dave, it's hard to explain without just telling you to find a way to get to the Second Avenue Deli and see for yourself. Did you watch the video? That would be a start.

Beyond that, the major difference is that a true deli has a lot of things that no sandwich shop has: chopped liver, pastrami and corned beef, matzoh ball soup, and often even gribenes (see video). But also important is that they make their own foods. They don't buy packaged sandwich meats like a sandwich shop. They season and cook the pastrami, they chop the liver, and they ball the matzoh. Does that help?

Sent by Dan Pashman, NPR | 4:57 PM | 3-17-2008

...and as i recall, there was always the olfactory whole body experience that whirled and buzzed and imprinted itself within your senses and remained in your nostrils forever...albeit dormant...until.....

Sent by jayn | 6:40 PM | 3-17-2008

Jayn, you are so right to mention the smell. When I walked in there for the first time after a two year hiatus that was the first thing I noticed. I turned to Win and said, "I wish your camera had smell-o-vision!"

Sent by Dan Pashman, NPR | 8:07 PM | 3-17-2008

Matzoh ball soup. Pastrami stacked high on rye with mustard. Dr. Brown's Black Cherry.

Sent by Dan M | 10:28 PM | 3-17-2008

"They don't buy packaged sandwich meats like a sandwich shop. They season and cook the pastrami, they chop the liver, and they ball the matzoh. Does that help?"

The video was great. Yeah. I guess it does help. Maybe it's like the difference between buying bread at a convenience store and going to a real bakery. I've had all the deli foods before including the gribenes (yum), but only at people's houses. The great thing about growing up in a midwestern university town is everyone is from someplace else.

Kudos on making chopped liver almost sound appetizing. :-)

Sent by Dave Wiley | 11:55 PM | 3-17-2008

Proof that the apocalypse isn't here quite yet.

Sent by Sarah Goodyear | 11:17 AM | 3-18-2008

Although I've never been to the Second Avenue Deli (or even New York) I'd definitely have to order a hot pastrami sandwich; saurkraut, mustard. Mmmmmmm. I worked in an Italian deli for years in Victoria BC, but I often miss the Jewish delis of my early childhood in Toronto.

Sent by Z. B. | 12:50 PM | 3-18-2008

it would be corned beef or a k. hotdog w/ mustard. Could I have the waitress that was always there too?

Sent by patrice | 2:12 PM | 3-19-2008