Friday, March 30, 2012

Manny's Cafeteria and Delicatessen

Location: 1141 S Jefferson
Cost: About $12 per person

Restaurant Week gives diners a chance to hit up lots of places that they wouldn't otherwise (often because of expense). That being said, I usually don't go anywhere because I either don't make a reservation early enough or don't find a menu that seems appealing. This year, however, I saw that Manny's Deli had an awesome deal that I couldn't resist. My friend Graham had been asking to check out a good Jewish deli for a while, so that's where we headed.

Manny's looks way more like a cafeteria than a deli. When you walk in, you step into a line where you pick up a tray and point at what you want. They've got tons of seating, but the place is always packed. You can usually find street parking nearby. If you look around when you're in there, you'll often see some important chicagoans (politicians and the like). The lines get a little bit long at peak hours, but they move fast. One issue is that you can easily get stuck behind someone being indecisive. If you want a sandwich, make sure to jump right past all the chumps getting pasta. If you want salad, make sure to go straight toward the back of the line.

So the restaurant week deal was 2 half sandwiches, 2 potato pancakes, and 2 bowls of soup for $22. It was a solid deal, but on a regular day the prices don't get too out of hand anyways. The portions are gigantic too.

The Food
Our orders were nice, simple, and traditional. We both got started with Matzo Ball Soup. It was a reasonably salty bowl of soup with a gigantic, fluffy ball. I still prefer my mom's, but this was some pretty good stuff.

 The Matzo Ball Soup

For sandwiches Graham got the roast beef on challah, and I got the corned beef on rye. I also ordered some chopped liver on the side. Graham seemed pleased with his sandwich, and I've had it before. It's a soft slice of challah that would make any sandwich shine (but the beef does that for itself anyways). The corned beef is about as good as it gets in Chicago. There's a perfect amount of marbling and it goes unbelievably with one of my favorite chopped livers. It's got little bits of onion mixed in with the schmaltz and liver. There's a sweet and salty crunch to each bite. Now, for the potato pancakes, I don't usually go for them outside of hanukkah, but these are always worth the seasonal mismatch. They've got a crispy exterior and a smooth, shredded filling.

The Roast Beef on Challah

The Chopped Liver

 The Corned Beef on Rye
(I had to eat all of the excess corned beef that was covering the plate to make for a reasonable shot)

Manny's is a Chicago institution that deserves every bit of street cred it has coming. I'd stick to the corned beef or pastrami. If you're a chopped liver fan then this is a must stop. Although I've already handed out a pearl necklace in the deli category to 11 City, I think that Manny's is the best option in town and thus they will also get 5 out of 5 Pearls.

Manny's Coffee Shop & Deli on Urbanspoon


  1. This is one place i've been wanting to check out. i've heard a lot of good feedback.

    -Linda Macias

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