Obama's Lunch Love: Manny's Deli The president-elect's lunch spot in Chicago serves "Jewish-American steam table cuisine" — although to call kishke, knishes and corned beef "cuisine" is a little like calling sweatshirts "couture."

Obama's Lunch Love: Manny's Deli

Obama's Lunch Love: Manny's Deli

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/97905062/97905031" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The old rivals whom President-elect Barack Obama has appointed to office might get suspicious one day if the president invites them for lunch at Manny's.

When Obama goes out with his family, it's often to one of Chicago's signature restaurants, like the Frontera Grill.

But for lunch, he stops at Manny's Deli, which has been in Chicago's West Loop since 1942 and serves "Jewish-American steam table cuisine," although to call kishke, knishes and corned beef "cuisine" is a little like calling a sweatshirt "couture."

The president-elect orders corned beef and cherry pie to go. Now there's a stimulus package. Manny's corned beef sandwiches are large enough to have their own electoral votes.

I have been going to Manny's all of my life, and I weigh only 400 pounds.

It's a favorite place for Chicago pols, cops and the reporters who love them. Somehow at Manny's, the laws of nature and science are suspended. Corned beef, latkes and smoked whitefish lose all caloric content there.

What you eat at Manny's stays between you and your Creator.

This time of year, my stepfather used to go there for lunch and hand out $20 bills to the people who work the steam tables. It's the Chicago way of saying, "Hey, it's hot back there. Thanks!" For the rest of the year, they would pile the corned beef to his chin and give him the top latke — the crispest one — from the stack.

He lived to the age of 86.

When Obama leaves Manny's, crowds in front shout, "We love you!" Obama is revered in his hometown. But are the people shouting at him — or the corned beef he's carrying?