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Tuesday
Dec122006

Where are the Delis?

Allow me to bemoan the lack of delis in Indianapolis.

(As published in the Indianapolis Business Journal, December, 2006)

I am writing to challenge Indianapolis' entrepreneurial restaurateurs.

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I come from deli country.  Perhaps not so much so as a New Yorker, but obviously moreso than the average Hoosier who appears oblivious to the void in his life.  A void that can be filled with meat.  And cheese.  And pasta. And pasta salad. All homemade, at prices lower than Marsh charges.

But seriously, the ready-to-eat delicatessen seems to be an underdeveloped asset in Hoosierland.  As I write this, I'm sitting in Shapiros.  Despite its legitimate claim to delihood, it seems more like a cafeteria to me, with overcooked spaghetti steaming all afternoon.  It is expensive, and the service is slow.  Further, it is not at all obvious how I would buy an entree to take home, by the pound.

McAlisters is busting at the seams, and quick to serve, but let's be honest, it's a sandwich shop. 

Contrast that with a New York deli. Servers standing at the ready behind cases filled with beautiful and various delights.  Salad bars that would make Ruby Tuesday and Golden Corral blush with shame.  Excellent pizza by-the-slice.  Pastries. It's Everyman's culinary heaven, with truly good food served fast at reasonable prices.

Compare it to a Pittsburgh deli, with world-class rigatoni beckoning, and pierogies, and sub sandwiches, and an endless array of ready-to-slice meats.  And don't forget the creamy salads that are actually worth eating.  Here, the deli is part meat market and part caterer. The cookies even smile.

Finally, compare it to my favorite cafe in Laguna Beach, where the entrees in the case are elegantly upscale--more likely garnished with flowers and microgreens than parsley and pineapple.  They're available by the pound or by the slab, and the aroma of gourmet coffee fills the air. 

Indianapolis has a few landmark places that are worthy of similar praise.  But in New York, Western Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, there seem to be many more such places.  They are the norm rather than the exception.

So, hear me Indianapolis entrepreneurs - I'm hungry for some authentic food!  Until someone responds to my call, make sure to patronize Midday Deli (homemade soup!), Taste Cafe (you might spot a microgreen garnish!), Illinois Street Food Emporium, Taylor's Bakery, and your other favorite neighborhood eateries. 

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New York City Deli on Amsterdam Ave.

 

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Made to order breakfast in New York City

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Breakfast, lunch, or dinner...the glow of the pastry case beckons from inside.

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Pizza Rustica in South Beach, Miami, Florida

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