Sometimes there is nothing that can beat a cold like homemade chicken soup. When we don’t feel like whipping up a batch ourselves- we turn to Schlesinger’s Delicatessen. Located right on 15th and Locust Streets (next to the Flywheel cycling studio) is Philadelphia’s quintessential Jewish deli. Within the United States, delis share a special place in the hearts of many for their home-cooked dishes, cured meats and rich pastries. The atmosphere of these casual and comforting restaurants serve as a gathering place for community and conversation, inspired by nostalgia for the old country.
The story of Schlesinger’s Deli starts back in the 1930s with Joseph Schlesinger, the owner of a luncheonette and delicatessen in West New York, New Jersey. Fast forward 80 years and you’ll find his grandson, Allan Domb is continuing the family tradition in Center City Philadelphia. Schlesinger’s is reminiscent of the country’s original delis with its decor of authentic-hardwood floors, wood tables and chairs, tin ceiling, mirrors and stainless steel deli cases.
The first delicatessens to appear in the United States were in New York City in the mid-1800s after two million Jewish people immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe between 1881 and 1924. New York became the home for most of these immigrants, but slowly over time they would move to other metropolitan areas, especially along the east coast. As the German-Jewish population increased in New York City during the mid- to late 1800s, kosher delicatessens began to open; the first was founded in 1889.
These establishments fed their guests with classic dishes that became the staples of deli fare: matzoh ball soup, noodle kugel, potato latkes and whitefish just to name a few. In the United States, by the late 20th to early 21st centuries, supermarkets, local economy stores, and fast food outlets began using the word “deli” to describe sections of their stores selling cured meats, sliced cheeses, and breads.
We know the first thing that comes to mind for most when visiting a deli is PICKLES. Well you’re right on the money at Schlesinger’s since they have an ALL YOU CAN EAT pickle bar for all dine-in customers ($5/pound for take-out customers). Because of their location next door to Flywheel you can find health-conscious menu items like The Fly on Rye Sandwich with roasted turkey, avocado, pickle, Swiss cheese, and mustard on rye bread or The Fly Oatmeal. We also enjoy Russ’ Chicken Paillard Salad with thinly pounded marinated chicken breast over spring mix with sun-dried cherries, cucumbers, and lemon vinaigrette dressing.
Popular sandwiches are served with 7 ounces of premium meats. Some of the most popular include varieties with corned beef, pastrami, and turkey like the Jules Reuben sandwich with corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut with Russian dressing on rye bread and Doris Reuben sandwich with pastrami, corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut with Russian dressing on rye bread. We opted to try the Barclay Double Club which is a fun twist on the classic made with fresh turkey, turkey bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.
Schlesinger’s is managed by Louis Barson, owner of Hymie’s in Merion. PA and a number of other delis in the Philadelphia area. Schlesinger’s Delicatessen follows the century-old tradition of Jewish delis serving a over-sized sandwiches, smoked fishes, massive desserts and traditional sides such as knishes, kugels, and potato pancakes. Expect to find lox and bagels, corned beef specials, brisket platters, black and white cookies, a case of Dr. Brown’s soda and good conversation. We love that they also offer breakfast all day with favorites like Jen’s Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Homemade Cheese Blintzes, Thick Challah French Toast, and Grandma’s Fried Matzo.
The deli is open 7 days a week from 7 am till 9 pm. And if you’re not in the neighborhood don’t worry, Schlesinger’s offer’s delivery via their website and Caviar, as catering options. So the next time you’re looking for home-cooked, old-fashioned fare- you’re just a click away!