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Deli City (1979-), Owner Jay Eckstein's Excellent Corned Beef and Pastrami, along with Other Soul Food-Type Dishes - Bladensburg Road NE


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Heather said:
The reuben is probably my favorite sandwich: corned beef, swiss, sauerkraut, and either Russian dressing or mustard (my variation) on crunchy grilled rye.  Does any place in DC or the Maryland 'burbs do this sandwich well?  I have suffered through innumerable crappy reubens with soggy bread, cold fillings, flavorless sauerkraut, etc., or reuben panini that get the whole concept wrong wrong wrong.  Worse yet are the "turkey reubens" which should find another name for themselves as they are abominations.

Go here right away: Deli City Restaurant

2200 Bladensburg Rd NE, Washington, DC 202-526-1800

The. Most. Unbelievable. Corned. Beef. Period.

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Deli City has, in addition to THE BEST CORNED BEEF THAT I EVER ATE IN MY LIFE, home made Russian dressing, home made cole slaw and extraordinary pastrami. Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Tonic in the fridge, too.

Mark

Speaking for myself, I've never heard of this place, and I've followed many of those "there is no good deli in DC" threads on various boards. If it's that good, how come it's so off the radar screen? And if it's the location, why is it located in such a place? Who runs it and who eats there?

If it's everything you say it is, it has to be the chow "find" of 2006, so far anyway.

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Mark

Speaking for myself, I've never heard of this place, and I've followed many of those "there is no good deli in DC" threads on various boards.  If it's that good, how come it's so off the radar screen?  And if it's the location, why is it located in such a place?  Who runs it and who eats there?

If it's everything you say it is, it has to be the chow "find" of 2006, so far anyway.

I had never heard of it either until this summer when one of my customers showed up with 10 lbs. of this amazing corned beef, rye, Guldens deli mustard, cole slaw, kosher dills, Cel-Ray and we had a feast right at the Chef Table. He works near there. If it were downtown, they'd make a fortune.

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Mel Krupin weighed in on Deli City in the November, 2005 Best Bites section in Washingtonian (scroll about halfway down to the blind pastrami tasting).

I've driven past there dozens of times and I swear that I thought it had closed ten years ago. I'm such an idiot.

But it's not such a long schlep from my office....

Of course my car is dead at the moment...

Sigh....

Jennifer

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Well, I couldn't help myself so I went over to this place to try it out.

Verdict: It's a keeper. Well worth the trip.

I had a reuben. Very popular sandwich there--between carry-out and sit-down they must have sold a dozen of them while I was there. Very messy. Corned beef is extremely rich (oily and fatty in a good way) and crumbly. Meat over an inch thick in the middle. Served on classic grilled seeded rye with two spears of dill pickle. Need a fork to eat a good part of it since it is so moist and the bread has no hope of keeping it all together. Certainly as good as any I remember in DC metro. Next time I'll order extra sauerkraut to counteract the richness a little better.

Extensive menu of Jewish deli type sandwiches and similar items. Claims to be "kosher style." Reasonable prices; the reuben, along with several "combination" sandwiches, is $6.50. The straight CB and pastrami are $5.95. Others are less.

The place is very workman-looking, but most of clientel, while very casual, is dressed well. Never saw proportionately so many cellphones in use. Saw several unlikely-looking people doing things like reading the New York Times.

It's on Bladensburg Rd. just North of NY Ave., next to the BP station which in turn is next to the big metrobus lot.

Edited by johnb
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Got there today with a small group of 'hounds. Place was jumping. Steady flow of dine-ins and carryouts throughout the lunch hour.

We managed a table for five and, unfortunately, our visit was marred by the newbie waitress assigned to us. She omitted a few items, and the wait to order and for food was much, much too long. No condiments, side orders never came, no soda refill, etc. Other tables served by the "old-salt" waitresses did not seem to suffer at all.

The meat was delicious and piled high. We had two Ruebens (sp?) at $6.50 ea and three Corned Beef Sandwichs at $5.95. The meat is warm but not hot, juicy but not wet, soft but not disintegrating, tasty but not sharp. Very, very comforting. The Rueben is lightly "dressed" and lightly grilled. I think I could ask for better rye bread though. I know Potomac Deli has a better loaf with a thicker crust and a tangier Rye taste.

Others can chime in re: pickles and cole slaw which I did not taste.

Most of the regulars, it should be noted, seemed to be eating the Specials. Today was Short Ribs, Beef over Rice, Crab Cakes and Fried Fish I think. Each came with two vegetables and cost between $7.95 and 9.95.

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Got there today with a small group of 'hounds.  Place was jumping.  Steady flow of dine-ins and carryouts throughout the lunch hour.

We managed a table for five and, unfortunately, our visit was marred by the newbie waitress assigned to us.  She omitted a few items, and the wait to order and for food was much, much too long.  No condiments, side orders never came, no soda refill, etc.  Other tables served by the "old-salt" waitresses did not seem to suffer at all.

The meat was delicious and piled high.  We had two Ruebens (sp?) at $6.50 ea and three Corned Beef Sandwichs at $5.95.  The meat is warm but not hot, juicy but not wet, soft but not disintegrating, tasty but not sharp.  Very, very comforting.  The Rueben is lightly "dressed" and lightly grilled.  I think I could ask for better rye bread though.  I know Potomac Deli has a better loaf with a thicker crust and a tangier Rye taste.

Others can chime in re: pickles and cole slaw which I did not taste.

Most of the regulars, it should be noted, seemed to be eating the Specials.  Today was Short Ribs, Beef over Rice, Crab Cakes and Fried Fish I think.  Each came with two vegetables and cost between $7.95 and 9.95.

Pappy--thanks for your comments. On my previous visit I had my corned beef in the form of a Reuben, and today as a corned beef sandwich. I'd say the Reuben is the way to go. The corned beef is great and piled high on both, but the bread was a bit dry on the plain sandwich. If there's better corned beef anywhere in DC I haven't found it yet. The slaw was very chunky and mayonaisey, not my favorite approach but certainly appeared homemade and good if you like it that way.

Next time I'm going to try the steak and cheese. I'm also curious how those who took home the pastramis liked it? Based on Marty L's research reported on CH, IIRC the corned beef is made in house but the pastrami is purchased from Vienna in Chicago.

Two visits now to this place and I'm convinced it's a worthy spot.

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I was there for lunch today, in the group with JohnB and Pappy, and the corned beef was excellent, when we finally got it. I ordered "lean"--sacrilege, I know, I know. but it was still moist and juicy. I had no complaints about the bread--it was fresh, and it stayed together as I ate. I brought home a pastrami sandwich for Jonathan, and he was very happy with it. At $6 a sandwich, this was a real deal. I doubt that they have invested a penny in the decor, inside or out, since the early 60's, though. And I can't recall a time when I sat at a stickier formica table.

The service was a comedy of errors, and the two who ordered Reubens had long since finished them by the time the rest of us got our corned beef sandwiches. But for all that, it was worth it for that corned beef. I grew up eating corned beef sandwiches from Canter's on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, and later from Katz's deli in the Lower East Side. This meat was better than Canter's--there, you had to order lean if you didn't want a fistful of fat, and the lean was often dry. The Deli City sandwich is not as generously overstuffed as what you get at Katz's--but there a sandwich now costs $13 I think.

Too bad they don't have Dr. Brown's sodas.

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Pappy--thanks for your comments.  On my previous visit I had my corned beef in the form of a Reuben, and today as a corned beef sandwich.  I'd say the Reuben is the way to go.  The corned beef is great and piled high on both, but the bread was a bit dry on the plain sandwich.  If there's better corned beef anywhere in DC I haven't found it yet.  The slaw was very chunky and mayonaisey, not my favorite approach but certainly appeared homemade and good if you like it that way. 

Next time I'm going to try the steak and cheese.  I'm also curious how those who took home the pastramis liked it?  Based on Marty L's research reported on CH, IIRC the corned beef is made in house but the pastrami is purchased from Vienna in Chicago.

Two visits now to this place and I'm convinced it's a worthy spot.

Phew! That corned beef rocks. The place is short on decor, from what I've heard. It used to be a gas station!

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I was there for lunch today, in the group with JohnB and Pappy, and the corned beef was excellent, when we finally got it. I ordered "lean"--sacrilege, I know, I know. but it was still moist and juicy.

I strongly suspect that it's all lean, or it's all fatty, or it's all whatever-you-order, because they probably only have one kind. In any event, it's gooood.

I'm glad to hear the pastrami was deemed to be of good quality. Must try that.

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The place is short on decor, from what I've heard. It used to be a gas station!

If it was a gas station, the conversion must have happened at least forty years ago. It has that early 60's, slanted glass cheap-o attempt at Googie-style design that characterises so many coffee shops and delis of that era. The peeling painted signs on the outside, the ancient formica tables and chairs, the grease-spotted menus, empty salt and pepper shakers and lack of mustard on the tables all bespeak a not-so-benign neglect of the premises that fortunately does not extend to the corned beef. I'd say take-out is the way to go.

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Has this place existed in it's current form for 40 years, or is it a new business in an old building? I'm also just stunned that good kosher-style deli could have been here hidden under our noses for all these years...

It's hard to say what if anything it was before, but it's fairly certain it's been there in its present form for many many years. And it clearly has a large and loyal clientele, but probably not many who post on DR.

I'd use the term "deli" advisedly. It is not a deli at all in the sense of a place with a display counter where you can go to get 1/4 lb. of lox and a side of potato salad (what in NY I think they call an "appetizing"). It's really a sandwich shop and restaurant with great corned beef and other things. A free-standing hole-in-the-wall.

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It's hard to say what if anything it was before, but it's fairly certain it's been there in its present form for many many years. 

Random Grammarian Award to johnb for the most correct uses of the words containing "i", "t" and "s" in a sentence with no mistakes.

Sorry, but it's Friday afternoon. :lol:

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Considering the neighborhood that was a given.  I was looking for more specifics, the actual hours, are they really closed on the weekend? 

A quick call confirmed that their hours are 5:30am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday, closed weekends.

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A diamond in the rough...or just rough? Deli City Restuarnt is the sort of Washington -- institution? -- we lament that the city doesn't have. Where the locals are local, the grime is grimey, the grease is greasy, and ever after the tables have been wiped clean they are still a little sticky. The napkins are paper. The cutlery plastic. The fine china paper. Sit on down peruse the faded menu...try the NY Style Pastrami, two slices of white supermarket bread stuffed with piles of glistening meat. That's it.

post-44-1142370499_thumb.jpg

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Oh sweet mystery of life at last I found you!!

My mouth is happy right now. I finally made it to Deli City for a Reuben and I would have to say that it lived up to the hype. I'm not really enough of a wordsmith to really put that corned beef into words; it was so supple and salty, fatty and delicious, tender and tasty, that I'm not eating another horrible Reuben. I'm just not going to do it. Reuben's will be reserved for when I'm at home during the week and can go there for lunch. Thankfully I have Monday off for Columbus Day, the baby and I will be having Reuben's for lunch at Deli City.

Let me just say though, noone is going there for the atmosphere; and, as other posters have noted, it is no way, shape, or form a delicatessen.

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The meat was delicious and piled high. We had two Ruebens (sp?) at $6.50 ea and three Corned Beef Sandwichs at $5.95.

Hot Corned Beef on rye, with mustard and pickle spears, is now up to $6.50 - but is delicious as always.

A hand-written sign on the cash register says, "No Speaka English."

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Hot Corned Beef on rye, with mustard and pickle spears, is now up to $6.50 - but is delicious as always.

A hand-written sign on the cash register says, "No Speaka English."

Cheers,

Rocks.

Price aside, do you think it rivals the corned beef sandwich at Central. I have my own view on this but I'm always interested in yours, even though you're a shegetz.

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We can end the debate on how to torture with Deli City.

All one has to do is get a Grilled Ruben to go, eat half of a half while driving to your pointless meeting, sit in a 2 1/2 hour pointless meeting, and then drive half an hour with the aroma of your Grilled Ruben wafting around the car.

Even soggy and cold it was damn good. I like my rubens to run down to my elbow and this needed a bit more dressing.

My next pointless meeting in the area is two weeks away. I can't wait :mellow:

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All one has to do is get a Grilled Ruben to go

Mmmmm. I had a meeting last week about two miles away and deliberately scheduled it to take place just before lunch time.

I really don't have much more to add beyond the comments upthread. Definitely almost as good as Katz's. And yes, there was spillover pastrami and cheese from the reuben that I had to eat with a fork.

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Deli City has, in addition to THE BEST CORNED BEEF THAT I EVER ATE IN MY LIFE, home made Russian dressing, home made cole slaw and extraordinary pastrami. Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Tonic in the fridge, too.

Da-hum! I'm not sure it was the best I've ever had, but it's been a few years since I've had one anywhere and it wont be again. That is an awesome sandwich and better than I thought was available in DC. Which begs the question of where if anywhere is the second best deli sandwich in DC and why on earth isn't anyone opening up a deli in another part of town?

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Da-hum! I'm not sure it was the best I've ever had, but it's been a few years since I've had one anywhere and it wont be again. That is an awesome sandwich and better than I thought was available in DC. Which begs the question of where if anywhere is the second best deli sandwich in DC and why on earth isn't anyone opening up a deli in another part of town?

That was then, this is now. Central's corned beef sandwich is the bomb.

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Da-hum! I'm not sure it was the best I've ever had, but it's been a few years since I've had one anywhere and it wont be again. That is an awesome sandwich and better than I thought was available in DC. Which begs the question of where if anywhere is the second best deli sandwich in DC and why on earth isn't anyone opening up a deli in another part of town?
That was then, this is now. Central's corned beef sandwich is the bomb.

And we already know what Michel does with chopped chicken liver. So, I can't wait to taste his and Cedric's versions of kishka, smoked tongue, kasha varnishkes, chicken soup with kreplach, and knishes. Then we really won't need a decent deli in DC!

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It's been a year since anyone posted about this place so I had to share that it's still dang good. Growing up in NYC, this is the stuff I love and miss. Went with a friend, another New Yorker, and we split corned beef and pastrami, 1/2 sandwich each. We both agreed they were great but the corned beef was divine. Also had some cole slaw - good, not great, I like mine with more vinegar than mayo. Each sandwich was $7.25.

Hours are later in the morning now, more like 9:30 am to 5 or 5:30 (don't remember). Sweet lady at register has retired but ownership is the same. Spoke with guy at register, who I assume is owner, and we talked about NY a bit ("Where you from?")

I hope this place never goes away. Go there now.

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I can't believe how close this joint is to my workplace in Largo, and I had never been! Landover Road to Alt. Route 1 South (Bladensburg Rd) and you're right there. I thought it was way more downtown than that.

The industrial neighborhood reminded me of the location of Interstate Barbecue in Memphis. I would not call this rough at all compared to some DC areas. It had a small parking lot too.

The most tender and tasty corned beef! Been dreaming of such a 3 napkin sandwich since my last trip to Acme. Gotta go back for more, but I wouldn't mind trying their meatball and cheese sub.

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32 minutes ago, eatruneat said:

A word of caution on Amazon Prime Now. @MichaelBDC and I ordered Panda Gourmet via Amazon again on Thursday and it took nearly 90 minutes to get to us. There was a disclaimer when we were ordering citing that the items we wanted would take a long time to prepare. However, following the tracker, it was clear that the kitchen prepared our order in a reasonable amount of time but the driver was making multiple deliveries (we are unsure if it was from one or multiple restaurants). Saw the driver drive past us (in Chinatown) to do one or more deliveries in the Palisades/Georgetown. The result was that much of our order needed a bit of reheating. Still a pretty good meal, but something to take into account when putting in an order. 

I just drove by Panda Gourmet last week, and actually went so far as to turn into the parking lot, before being seduced by the siren song of Deli City, where I hadn't been in a couple of years.

You know, I really thought I liked the Corned Beef more than the Pastrami (both $7.99), which I got on toasted rye with a pickle spear, but I really enjoyed the pastrami - now I'm not sure what to think. 

One new thing I never before tried was a daily special of Bread Pudding ($2.00), which came in a 16-ish ounce styrofoam container, and was served barely warm - it had been made earlier the same day, and was delicious - not too sweet, and was just the perfect amount for a medium-heavy lunch along with the sandwich.

Remember that Deli City is cash-only - there's a Wells Fargo across Bladensburg Road, and a gas station with an ATM ($2.75 service fee) next door, which I opted for. The service here remains both as informal and as friendly as can be, and I'm really glad I came back (I needed to get home, and didn't have time for Panda Gourmet, so this was a good call).

I'd be interested in hearing from people who've tried both the corned beef and pastrami in recent times. One thing I can offer up is: If they ask you to toast your rye, say 'yes' - you'll be glad you did (it's very lightly toasted - just enough to give the crust a bit of crunch).

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