When you think of the Boston food scene, you probably think of things like clam chowder, lobster and Boston baked beans. Those are the staples.
What you don’t necessarily think of is deli sandwiches — that’s more of an NYC thing, right? But when you get right down to it, the city is jam packed with several high quality, authentic delis with some of the finest meats and sandwiches around.
Whether you’re looking for delicious cold cuts or a mouthwatering bagel, you’ll find it in Beantown. Here are some of the best Boston delis to put on your culinary checklist.
Known for its unwavering quality and assortment of authentic NYC sandwiches, Michael’s Deli has earned its place in the hearts of Bostonians. Some of the staples sandwiches include the New York corned beef, the maple mustard corned beef and the Romanian pastrami.
With roots that go all the way back to 1977 and mentions from the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Phantom Gourmet and The Boston Globe, you know Michael’s is legit. We like this place so much that we’ve even covered it in an older blog post.
If you’re looking for top shelf, classic Italian food, it’s hard to beat Milano’s Delicatessen. It’s been a staple in East Boston for more than 30 years and places a strong emphasis on tradition. So much so that many patrons think of it as their family kitchen.
Kate Anslinger writes at the East Boston Times that a local neighbor even donated their own grandmother’s kitchen table to the deli, which is known as “Nonnie’s Table” to add to the ambiance.
Some of the favorites include Milano’s meatballs, the Caprese and of course tiramisu for dessert.
Roy’s Cold Cuts
Since the deli opened its doors in 1960, a lot has changed in the East Boston neighborhood where Roy’s Cold Cuts sits. However, the tradition of this sub shop has remained the same.
Some of the favorites include the meatball parm deluxe; “The Godfather,” featuring a crispy chicken cutlet, mozzarella and roasted pepper; and the famous “Peppacheddaturkachini” with oven roasted turkey, pepperoni cheese, pepperoncini and Caesar dressing.
Roy’s has its own unique decor, which consists largely of vintage rock n’ roll memorabilia and is like stepping back into the 60s and 70s. The Subs & Stuff Boston team also points out that Roy’s offers “the holy trinity” that make for a great sub shop — quality, menu diversity and a friendly staff.
Baltic European Deli
Looking for a top notch kielbasa or liverwurst sandwich? There’s arguably no better place in Boston than the Baltic European Deli. This is one of the top spots for foods from Poland, Hungary, Germany, Russia and throughout Eastern Europe. Besides offering a deli, there’s a bakery, beer and wine section, and even a dairy.
As CBS Boston points out, you can even grab a Polish newspaper while you wait on your order. It’s a truly authentic experience.
This is a deli that puts a modern spin on the classic Jewish delicatessen. You’ll find everything from homemade pastrami and corned beef to pickled herring and smoked sturgeon.
There are also some amazing bagels with delicious spreads like scallion cream cheese, lox cream cheese and tofutti.
Although Mamaleh’s is relative newcomer compared to many of the more veteran delis in Boston, it’s already made quite a stir. As Jacqueline Cain points out in Boston Magazine, this place has a gray polished slate bar and vintage tile flooring reminiscent of a traditional New York deli for a throwback feel.
Sam LaGrassa’s — a family owned and operated establishment in Boston since 1968 — claims to have the “World’s No. 1 Sandwiches.” Here you can find signatures like the famous Rumanian pastrami, aged black angus roast beef and honey glazed ham. This place is popular enough to get featured on The Travel Channel’s Food Paradise Show.
Part grocery store, part bakery and part deli, Lambert’s Marketplace is a one-stop shop. Its menu boasts great-tasting, high-quality subs with fresh ingredients.
Check out the menu, and you’ll quickly realize that Lambert’s pays homage to the different sections of Boston with their sandwiches. Some of which include the MASS Ave (roasted turkey, homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayo) and the Huntington Ave (buffalo chicken cutlet with lettuce, tomato and bleu cheese dressing).
This is your quintessential Italian deli and has been one of Boston’s go-tos for gourmet sandwiches, soups and salads since 2002. Figaro’s offers favorites like the “Pavarotti” (imported prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and extra virgin olive oil) and the “Sinatra” (hot ham, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion, topped with spicy mustard and their signature house dressing).
The Martone family, who opened this deli, were even featured on the Food Network’s show Chopped in 2013, Boston.com reporter Emily Wright writes, and that gave the family a chance to showcase their culinary skills on a national stage.
Eagle’s Deli and Restaurant
Besides offering insanely delicious sandwiches and burgers, Eagle’s Deli has earned a reputation for being a top destination for food challenges.
Behold the Eagle’s Challenge with a ridiculous 5 pounds of burger, 20 pieces of bacon and 20 pieces of American cheese. Or how about the Furious “Pete,” which also includes 5 pounds of fries and a deli pickle?
Eagle’s also offers a full line of specialty sandwiches and wraps as well as some amazing breakfast sandwiches. If you want a hearty meal that’s void of pretension, Eagle’s is definitely a good bet.
J. Pace and Son
At the main location in Saugus, you’ll find a full-service butcher shop, deli and bakery that was started by Joe Pace in 1966. Over the years, J. Pace and Son has been satiating the palates of Bostonians with a variety of choice meats and delicious desserts.
There are the classics like an Italian cold cut and corned beef with Swiss. You’ll also find an assortment of specialty sandwiches like the Desperado (pepper turkey, Swiss cheese, tomato, thousand island dressing and bacon bits) and the Big Dig Sandwich (prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, sun dried tomato, basil, oil and balsamic vinegar).
Back Bay Sandwich
Quality sandwiches in a casual atmosphere. This is how you would describe this inconspicuous sandwich shop.
Back Bay Sandwich offers the classics you know and love like roast turkey, baked ham and salami and provolone. But they also have several signatures like the New England Chicken Salad, the Cubano (Cuban pork, ham and Swiss) and the Bostonian (angus beef, turkey, ham and provolone).
Although the menu is simple, Roast Beast possesses a certain swagger that’s hard to replicate. They’ve been keeping it real since their conception in 2011.
If you’re a fan of innovative condiments, this place is a must. Some of the notables include:
- Secret Beast Sauce
- Tiger Sauce
- Thermonuclear Sauce (includes the hottest pepper in the world, ghost chili)
- Citrus Chipotle Barbecue
- Rich’s Sweet Heat
As Allison Thomasseau points out in Boston University Today, Roast Beast has a notorious food challenge called the Thermonuclear Challenge, which involves eating a sandwich with their famous Thermonuclear Sauce within five minutes. If your mouth can handle the scorching heat, you receive a “You’re the Beast” T-shirt and get your photo on the wall.
If you’re looking for a classic deli sandwich done the old fashioned way, you won’t want to pass up Beantown Pastrami Co. Old style is their MO, and they pull it off seamlessly.
Here, you’ll find New York-style pastrami, Reubens and Rachels made according to classic recipes. Their meats and cheeses are sourced from throughout New England and are prepared fresh each day for maximum flavor.
Max’s Deli Cafe
This cafe has two main goals — providing healthy, fine quality foods and offering generous portions. You’ll find the classics on Max’s Deli Cafe menu like homemade roasted turkey, corned beef and black Romanian pastrami, which is straight out of Brooklyn.
In addition, you can get your fill of tasty soups and chowders as well as breakfast sandwiches. They also do catering.
Evan’s New York Style Deli (Marblehead, MA)
Evan’s Deli, a 45-minute drive from the city, is worth the trip. The New York style pastrami sandwich here is fantastic. They have a charming dining area if you want to eat in, and offer platters and catering menus, often offering specialty items for the High Holidays.
Boston’s Delicious Delis
Make no bones about it. Boston has some fantastic delis that will satisfy the taste of any chowhound. Whether you’re seeking the classics that you would find in an old school New York Jewish deli or something more experimental, you’ll find it all in The City on a Hill.
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