Save the Deli

Shmear and Kasha in Las Vegas

Austin, TX

I was 20 miles out of Barstow when the acid kicked in.
…acid indigestion to be precise, the remnants of an In-N-Out Burger that was deciding whether to stay in or get out. The situation called for action: a fast car, desert road, and pills…tums to be exact.

Forgive my indulgence, but every writer is entitled to some form of ripping off the late, great, Hunter S. Thompson when writing about Las Vegas. And in that city of plastic fantastic sex, sin, and oversized t-shirts, the spirit of the Dr. would best be found in the delis…quietly fueling his drug crazed madness with some matzo ball soup or bialy.

This was my first time in Vegas and I was both overwhelmed and dissapointed, both with the city and its delis. I expected a trace of Sammy, Dean, and Frank but instead got NASCAR, oversized plastic cups, and a whole lot of decoration without much substance. But I won a few hands of blackjack, got a comped drink or two, and had quite a bit of deli over the course of 12 hours.

For a town founded by old time Jewish gangsters, and now boasting a growing population of new school Jewish retirees and real estate tycoons, Las Vegas is sadly lacking in a critical mass of homegrown delis. There are a few though, and they do quite well for themselves.

Harrie’s Bagelmania
855 E Twain Ave # 120
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 369-3322

img_0668.jpgimg_0669.jpg

A Vegas transplant by way of Mort Horns, a Chicago deli man who followed the dice to the desert, went back and forth for a few years, and finally settled down in what became one of the sketchiest areas of town. Still, Bagelmania is the spot to go for old school Vegas Jews and characters. At breakfast (which stretches all morning in the 24/7 city), retired gamblers, gangsters, former casino owners, and blackjack dealers in full cowboy gear sit with plates of bagels, lox, and cream cheese or eggs and onions.

img_0672.jpg

The crisp bialys are wonderful with cream cheese, there’s a real nice eggy sweet noodle kugel, a scoop of very strong and classic chopped liver, and one of the ugliest potato knishes to look at (though it tastes wonderful…mostly filling and very little dough). This is the real Vegas in all its element, come for the characters, the kibbitz and the baked goods.

img_0673.jpgimg_0674.jpgimg_0675.jpg

And for my hometown friends (especially the bagel debaters on the facebook site) know that Bagelmania is the only other place I’ve seen that has a big twister bagel…a Toronto style wonder…which Mort copied from the now defunct Bagel on College St. So you needn’t crave when at the tables baby!

img_0671.jpg

Weiss Restaurant-Deli-Bakery
2744 n. Green Valley Pkwy
Henderson, NV
(702) 454-0565

img_0687.jpg

Michael Weiss and wife Aysegul (she’s originally from Turkey) opened their restaurant last March, taking over a fledgling Jewish deli call Samuele’s, which had languished for years in a suburban Vegas stripmall (isn’t all of Vegas one suburban stripmall?). In just under a year they have transformed the space and the kitchen into one of the most ambitious and delicious delis I have seen.

img_0678.jpg

First, they make almost everything from scratch. Soups, dishes, kugel, kasha, all that…but also their breads, bagels, and deli meats. Most of it is done by Michael, who has been a cook for decades and owned many restaurants before the deli. He’s originally from New Jersey, but has been living in Vegas for years. With a can do attitude and a whole lot of balls, he is doing things the old fashioned way…and it tastes great.

img_0683.jpg

The kasha varnishkes are to die for. This is a dish I never really got until I bit into Michael’s version, in a deep brown gravy, with each buckwheat kernel fluffed up on its own. His challah, baked in two small ovens, is dense, eggy, and sweet, the way it should be. The chopped liver ranks up there, and the chicken soup w/fat chunks of meat, is a soul saver for sin city. His rugelach are also unique…more like puff pastry than anything…perhaps a bit of Mediterranean influence.

img_0681.jpgimg_0680.jpgimg_0684.jpg

The place goes to show that new delis can be old school, traditional, haymish, and very tasty all at the same time. And successful.

There are two other local chains as well that I didn’t check out:
Bagel Café located at 301 N Buffalo. Tel: (702) 255-3444
and Bagels ‘N More located at Tropicanna and Eastern. Tel: (702) 435-8100
—–
What the rest of Vegas offered were buried in the belly of the casinos, next to sports betting sections or amid an army of slot machines.
Greenberg’s in New York, New York
Stage Deli (New York’s) in both Caesar’s Palace and the MGM Grand (a small kiosk)
Carnegie in the Mirage
Canter’s in Treasure Island
ZooZacrackers in the Wynn

I won’t delve too deeply into the food here, though I will say it ranges from outright goyish (Greenberg’s) to almost as good as the original (Carnegie). The rest fall somewhere between. Have a look at the movie to get a taste of the action.

Stoned, ripped, stuffed….good people.

13 Responses to “Shmear and Kasha in Las Vegas”

  1. Cap Says:

    Awesome vid. Pretty impressive technical ability, my man. And I laughed out loud when that belly walked by. What are you doing for exercise while you’re out there? Delano brought back some smoked meat from Mel’s Montreal Deli on Bloor …. the jury is still out. But I guess that’s Vegas for you..

  2. Lauren Says:

    Cool video David.
    I thought CAP was referring to your belly, which had me pretty freaked out. So I watched the video and now know he wasn’t. That’s good.
    Wow, Vega looks bright. It’s cool how deli seems to fit in everywhere. Kind of like the nomadic people who spawned it. They kind of keep their own flavour but manage to fit into the surrounding culture. I’m soooo excited for the book. already planning the launch party.

  3. betfair loophole Says:

    Just what I needed to bring a little sunshine after a stressful day. Great writing that really gets the thought across. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Better Casinos Online Says:

    love vegas, great post…

  5. machine a sous Says:

    Article very interesting.

  6. pelangi casino Says:

    seems like that you’ve put numerous effort and work into your article and i would like much more of the using the net nowadays. I sincerely obtained a kick from the post. I don’t certainly have much to look at in response, I only tried to comment to interact wonderful work..

  7. health Says:

    I have come back to your blog various times. The other articles are very captivating and out of the ordinary. I wanted to signup for your rss feed, so I can keep informed of your recent editorials.

  8. bet online,sports betting,bet,betting,football betting,horse racing betting,football odds Says:

    bet online,sports betting,bet,betting,football betting,horse racing betting,football odds

    [...]Save The Deli » Blog Archive » Shmear and Kasha in Las Vegas[...]

  9. Penny Slots Says:

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this article and also the rest of the site is also very good.

  10. us betting sites Says:

    I seriously love your site.. Very nice colors & theme.
    Did you develop this site yourself? Please reply
    back as I’m planning to create my own personal site and want
    to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called.
    Thank you!

  11. micro stakes poker book Says:

    Hello there, I found your blog by means of Google at the same time as searching for
    a comparable matter, your site came up, it looks great.
    I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

    Hello there, just became aware of your weblog via Google, and found that it’s really informative.
    I am gonna be careful for brussels. I’ll be grateful should you continue this in
    future. Numerous people can be benefited out of your writing.

    Cheers!

  12. Casie Says:

    My spouse and I stumbled over here from a different web page and thought
    I may as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you.
    Look forward to exploring your web page for a second time.

  13. Click Hyperlink Says:

    Let me immediately get ones rss while i cannot in finding ones e-mail ongoing hyperlink or maybe publication services. Have any? Be sure to enable everyone realize to ensure I might sign up. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Close
E-mail It