“WARNING: MAY CAUSE DROOLING”
You have been forewarned!
According to HolidayInsights.com, Iconic American Restaurants Day, on Thursday August 24, celebrates the many great restaurants in this country, and the outstanding staff that works hard to make your dining experience pleasurable.
We’ve profiled many iconic Chicago restaurants for this column, and today, we’re celebrating the Near West Side’s Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen, aka, ‘Manny’s Deli,’ which has endured 81 years and is still going strong.
According to Wikipedia sources, Manny’s traces its history back to 1942, when the brothers Jack and Charlie Raskin opened the Purity Deli at Van Buren and Halsted Streets. After World War II, Jack Raskin purchased a business known as ‘Sunny’s.’ To save money, Raskin chose to name his new restaurant “Manny’s,” after his son, thus requiring only two letters to be replaced. They moved into their current location in 1965, serving kosher meals to generations of Chicagoans.
And despite a pandemic scare a couple of years ago that Manny’s might be no more, four generations later, the business is still family-owned and run by Ken Raskin.
Known for their Corned Beef Sandwich
You don’t go through 1,000 pounds of corned beef every day without building a reputation. Manny’s Corned Beef Sandwich is itsreason for being. The sandwich is made with nine ounces of brisket, pickled with garlic and other seasonings, thinly sliced and piled high in between two slices of fresh rye bread.
Breakfast lovers will enjoy their Breakfast Reuben, served with two eggs, corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, a potato pancake and a side of 1000-Island dressing. Another unusual combination is their Matzo Brie, their famous fried matzo, served scrambled or pancake style, with onion, salami or corned beef.
More traditional offerings include their Lox & Bagel, which has nova lox served with tomato, onion and cream cheese. I’m always a sucker for Manny’s Thick Challah French Toast, served with your choice of bacon, turkey bacon, turkey sausage, ham, sausage links, corned beef hash, corned beef, pastrami, salami or turkey (how to choose? They’re all good!)
Other Reasons to go to Manny’s
I’d recommend what the Food Network’s ‘Jewish food specialist,’ Ted Allen, calls “a classic.” He says Manny’s Noodle Kugel is a “great way to gain a lot of weight.” The Food Network says “kugel in itself merits a trip to Chicago, but diners nationwide head to Manny’s for all the tasty Jewish fare, including the chicken soup and massive corned beef sandwiches.”
Other reasons to visit include their Veggie Ruben-on grilled rye, with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and a veggie patty, served with 1,000-Island dressing. Or, the WHAT AM I, CHOPPED LIVER? Their original corned beef piled high topped with chopped liver. Or, THE CHAZZER, with corned beef and pastrami piled high on rye with cole slaw and muenster cheese and a side of 1,000-Island dressing.
Recent Google reviewers couldn’t agree more:
“The food is just like I remember and appreciate,” wrote one. “The corned beef sandwich was meaty, flavorful and didn’t have too much fat. The Matzo ball soup was excellent and the two added kreplach were fantastic. Finally the potato pancake was crunchy and flavorful with onions. I had the beets for dessert and they were great.”
“Best corned beef sandwich on the planet,” wrote another. “Piled sky high and served in the same style as they did in the sixties. Nothing has changed (except the price). Still, it is worth every penny. An authentic old-time Chicago experience remains available at Manny’s.”
Manny’s Deli is located at 1141 South Jefferson Street. Daily specials are too numerous to list here. Just go! They are open Sunday-Monday, 9:30am 3:30pm, and Tuesday- Saturday 9:30am-8pm. For more information, click here.
Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago