Food & Drink

The 12 Best Delis in Chicago

Published On 09/01/2015 Published On 09/01/2015
Courtesy of Kaufman's Delicatessen & Bakery
Courtesy of Huge Galdones- Galdones Photography
Mike Gebert/Thrillist
Courtesy of Alain Milotti of Alain Milotti Photography
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
Mike Gebert/Thrillist
Courtesy of Ken Harrington
Michael Gebert/Thrillist
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1. Kaufman's Bagel & Delicatessen 4905 Dempster St, Skokie, IL 60077

Kaufman’s, a staple on the North Shore for more than 50 years, burned down a couple of years ago, but it re-opened bigger and better, and it’s still packed to the gills almost any time of day. Grab a number ticket (to the right of the door) when you enter, order the just-baked bagels, and be prepared to wait a solid 30 minutes. And yes, it's worth it -- there's a reason this place is an institution.

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2. Max's Delicatessen & Restaurant 191 skokie valley rd., Chicago, IL 60035

Who new a strip mall would hold Chicago's best bagels and corned beef?

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3. Eleven City Diner 1112 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605 (South Loop)

A matrimony of the Jewish delicatessen and the old-school diner, Eleven City Diner's a greasy spoon sans the grease, with awesome double-decker sandwiches and generally huge portions of pretty much everything.

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4. Manny's Deli 1141 S Jefferson St, Chicago, IL 60607 (South Loop)

For over 70 years, and coming up on four generations, Manny's has been family owned and operated by the Raskin's. The Jewish-style deli is a local favorite, an area name, and even a lunch spot for tourists. Stop in for home-cooked treats like pastrami, corned beef, matzoh ball soup, short ribs, brisket, and meatloaf.

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5. J. P. Graziano Grocery Co. 901 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

An old-school Italian grocery and importer, distributing all over the city since 1937, made the evolution to sandwich shop and gave the fourth-generation store a new life. People line up outside the door for a bite. It’s a busy scene among shelves of canned and pickled provisions: a meat slicer on overdrive, plastic-gloved counter workers slopping macaroni salad into little plastic cups, stuffed hoagies (made from D’Amato bread) being rolled to-go in paper. The classic Italian is a mainstay, but go for the Mr. G: hot sorpresata, prosciutto, genoa salami, sharp provolone, fresh basil, grilled and marinated artichokes, vinegar-oregano tossed lettuce and (here it comes) truffle-mustard-balsamic vinaigrette.

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7. Miceli's Deli & Food Mart 2448 S Oakley Ave, Chicago, IL 60608

You'll love Miceli's Italian subs almost as much as their dirt cheap prices!

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8. Freddy's Pizza 1600 South 61st Avenue, Cicero, IL 60804

Freddy's is the epitome of a dying breed -- family-owned corner shops serving up pizza made entire in-house and from scratch, using their own collections of house-cured meats, aged cheeses, and doughs. Aside from their square-shaped, deep-dish slices of heaven, Freddy's always has a lineup of saucy, cheesy pasta dishes waiting at the counter alongside its gelato counter, sporting flavors classic flavors like chocolate and lemon.

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9. Bari Foods 1120 W Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60642

You can't get Italian subs like this anywhere else. No, seriously.

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10. Harrington's Catering & Deli 5685 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL 60646

This should be you're number one stop for corned beef all year round.

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11. Publican Quality Meats 825 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

Publican Quality Meats is something of a triple threat: equal parts butcher shop, café, and speciality grocery store, it features an awe-inspiring selection of sausages and cured charcuterie meats, served individually from the butcher case or in sandwiches made with house-baked bread. The lunch menu is often changing, but the Parm #2 features a beautifully crisp chicken cutlet nestled into a brioche bun, while the sausage plate lets you sample three of the house-made specialities with sauerkraut and breadcrumbs. A breakfast menu includes ham and egg biscuit sandwiches and a pork belly breakfast burrito, though if you're in the mood for something less savory, there are pastries and coffee, too.

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12. Gene's Sausage Shop And Delicatessen 4750 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60625 (Lincoln Square)

Gene's is pouring the experience honed from their own 37-year-old family-run biz into their new-to-them two-story temple of cased meats (walls of exposed steel, wood, and stone, gigantic chandeliers, and the Meyer's neon sign above the deli), where the goods are whipped up by Euro-trained sausage makers and smoked on the premises, a past time that also got you kicked off the high school lacrosse team. The Liverbest Sandwich has a thick slab of creamy liverwurst with sliced pickles on a pretzel roll, so it's prepped for you to slather on one of the assorted mustards and wash it all down with a Pilsner. Plus, Gene's rooftop beer and wine garden is undoubtedly one of the best summer drinking spots in the city.

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