Locally known as Hajji’s, Harlem’s Blue Sky Deli is a bodega unlike any other thanks to one particular sandwich: the chopped cheese. Hajji’s is said to be the birthplace of the historic sandwich, which has since made its way into hip hop lyrics, Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, Whole Foods, and April Bloomfield’s upscale Upper West Side butcher shop, White Gold. Essentially the New York version of a Philly cheesesteak, the pressed hero sandwich is stacked with chopped and griddled ground beef, melted American cheese, peppers, onions, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, and mayonnaise. Though many Harlem bodegas serve their own iteration of the chopped cheese, the one from Hajji’s started it all.
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1. Blue Sky Deli (Hajji's) 2135 1st Ave, New York, NY 10029 (Harlem)