I really can’t believe I’ve never been to the Manhattan Deli, yet that was a fact up until about a week ago. I’ve always heard really great things about their food but for whatever reason never made the trip over there. I know, I know, I write about food in Des Moines, but had never experienced one of the mainstay institutions.
Luckily I can now say I’ve been and I really enjoyed the experience. Diners can walk into the Deli from the street (Ingersoll) or from the back parking lot, I chose the street entrance as I was unaware there was parking in the back. As I walked in I was greeted, figuratively of course, by the deli counter on the left and booths with diners on the right. Obviously I concluded that it would be best to join the line of would-be patrons at the deli counter rather than just sitting down at a table. The deli counter is pretty huge, it actually lines the entire side of the restaurant and it is jam packed with all sorts of good stuff. Behind the counter were nearly 10 staff members all dashing around working to fulfill the order they were working on. I was pretty impressed at their effectiveness as it looked like there was no rhyme or reason for their system. I mean that with the utmost respect as they are obviously doing something right, but it is not like some of their newer peer restaurant where the system (flow of the order) is very well established. I don’t know, I think about that kind of stuff since I used to be a restaurant manager.
Anyway, I realize you came here to read about the food not my system flow ramblings. The food is fantastic. I decided to get the Charlie’s, which was an enormously warm sandwich that included ham, turkey, swiss cheese on an onion bun. I decided not to get a side item, rather just go solo with the sandwich, and I was happy with my decision. The first bite was the best thing possible as the warmth of the sandwich and the melted swiss cheese really took over every aspect of my mouth. I realize that review is not very Top Chef-esk, honestly that is the best description I could come up with because it was such a great first bite. There is no cliff hanger here, the second, and subsequent, bites were equally as impressive, yet the first bite is always the one I remember. I guess it is sort of like a first date, if the first date stinks it is likely there will be no second date. With a sandwich, if the first bite is not memorable, then the experience is ruined. Anyway, I can usually pack a pretty good meal down, but the Charlie was so filling it was hard to finish the meal.
The menu is pretty deli typical, meaning there are tons of options with great meats to choose from. Where the Manhattan Deli differs is with items like Mitch’s 3 Alarm or Mama Mia sandwiches or the Susi which is an open faced bagel with cream cheese topped with choice of meat. Have you been? What is your favorite?
After all, why would you want to eat at a national chain restaurant when you can eat at the Manhattan Deli?