2290 Broadway, between 82nd and 83rd streets; 212-579-5959
Every true New Yorker knows there’s only one cure for that cold, and it’s not the pharmaceutical stuff from behind the checkout counter: It’s matzo-ball soup, which is even more healing if you get it delivered—or send it to a sniffling friend. Artie’s will deliver pints ($3.50) or quarts ($6.25) of classic, shimmering chicken soup, complete with airy dough balls. Call in sick, call them.
Caputo’s Fine Foods Inc.
460 Court Street, between 3rd and 4th places, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn; 718-855-8852
Don’t ask the old, half-blind man who works here his name or try to chat. Just ask him to work his magic on one of the crusty ciabatta sandwiches, on home-baked bread with meats cured the old-fashioned way. And don’t leave without buying a hunk of the deli’s own cheese, whether authentic buffalo mozzarella whipped up on-site from curds specially imported from the motherland or made-to-order ricotta.
Charles St. Food
144 Seventh Avenue South, at Charles Street; 212-741-7220
No one shops at Charles Food for the stock. It’s the stock character: Neighborhood types gather when the waggish Korean manager holds court at the counter. He likes to be known as the Deli Lama and has a natty way with paper plates. Every day, he sports a different origami-inspired hat and will make knockoffs for his favorite regulars.
170 Ninth Avenue, between 20th and 21st streets; 212-647-9428
This Punjabi deli is the best late-night refuge from the Identikit hordes of the meatpacking district. Work it into your fries-at-Florent rotation. The food would challenge Tabla in a blind taste test, but here, a vegetarian Punjabi-style platter is only $4.50, featuring a daily selection of dishes. After the spicy chana or saag, a toxically sweet nugget of Indian candy ($1) provides a sugar rush to put Red Bull to shame.
1174 Lexington Avenue, between 80th and 81st streets; 212-535-4300
This place sells white and green asparagus, wrapped in nifty bundles. But the prepared food is the true standout. There’s an entire wall of homemade yogurts, in flavors like nectarine, grape, and peach ($1.99 for eight ounces). And next time you’re trying to pretend you cooked, impress guests with a few sneaky dishes from the deli counter here: Try the salmon lasagne ($6.99 a pound) and a chopped mango salad, sprinkled with chunky strawberries ($4.99 a pound).
124 Thompson Street, at Prince; 212-260-4206
Sandwich freaks consider this Soho deli’s some of the best in town. The Portuguese bread’s crusty and fresh, and amazingly, the cold cuts are cooked on-site. The best day to stop by is Tuesday or Friday, when house-roasted turkey’s available ($4.80). Any other time, opt for the celebrated BLT ($4), slathered in a tangy herb dressing for extra kick. The lines are long come one o’clock, so eat lunch early or bring a book for the wait.
Matamoros Puebla Grocery Corp.
193 Bedford Avenue, between North 6th and North 7th streets, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-782-5044
Authentic Mexican is one of the few foods that New Yorkers often find lacking. This ramshackle deli might deliver satisfaction. Direct them toward the tiny kitchen at the rear, where there are a few rickety tables set up next to the soda coolers. The menu, printed entirely in Spanish, features burritos ($5) and quesadillas ($3). The sloppy tacos ($2), which use homemade tortillas and feature chunky chopped radishes and sprigs of cilantro, are a delicious, gourmet bargain.
2867 Broadway, between 111th and 112th streets; 212-749-7555
This tiny triangular Morningside Heights deli is a Middle Eastern mecca: There’s house-made hummus and baba ghannouj, not to mention fresh breads and olives ladled out by the pound, as well as hundreds of exotic spices. Even more impressive is the extensive range of whole-bean coffees, more than 30 different blends from across the world.
548 Third Avenue, between 36th and 37th streets; 212-679-0442
Two words: French fries. Three more: no minimum delivery. You don’t even have to pretend you wanted a sandwich as well. This deli-restaurant—all leatherette banquettes and wood-effect Formica—rustles up crunchy crinkle fries 24 hours a day and will deliver them, too, wrapped up in a brown paper bag for unsoggy arrival.
Village Farm & Grocery
146 Second Avenue, at 9th Street; 212-475-7521
This deli’s core customer? Expat Brits and sweet-toothed Anglophiles, thanks to the huge stash of hard-to-find Cadbury’s candy on the counter (Revels, Curly Wurly, and even Dairy Milk). But the brew here isn’t tea, it’s beer: dozens of varieties with a global span of U.N. proportions, from sweet raspberry Lambic Belgian ale ($7.39) to fragrant Harpoon India Pale Ale ($1.69). The fact that the store’s sparklingly clean and the staff so upbeat is an added plus.
Hitting the Expiration Date
An atypical deli owner faces the typical industry struggles—bellmarked Doritos, the DEA—and decides he wants out.Part II
Cornering the Corner Market
Grace Dancyger introduced branding to the Korean deli—and ended up with an East Village empire.Part III
Ten worth going out of your way for.