Save the Deli

The Best Deli I’ve Never Visited

Though I’ve been to delis in some pretty far flung places, one that I’m sorely lacking is Shapiro’s in Indianapolis, Indiana.

One of the oldest delis in the nation, open since 1905, Shapiro’s is a bastion of Midwestern corned beef love. It’s like Manny’s in Chicago, with a history that rival’s New York’s Katz’s. But I can’t say for sure, because I’ve sadly never been.

But I did get a nice writeup from Kansas City food blogger Charles Ferruzza, who is quite the fan of Shapiro’s and of the New York Bakery and Delicatessen, in KC, where I have been.
My favorite line: “I had to have a potato pancake too, a fluffy disc of mashed spuds as big as a 1960s ash tray, fried crispy and golden brown.”

The writeup from Michael Stern, the chief eater at, is no less effusive in its praise:

Shapiro’s is best known, and rightly so, for its corned beef sandwich. The vivid red spiced meat is steamy hot, sliced thin and piled high between slices of excellent rye bread. With a couple of latkes (potato pancakes) on the side, you’ve got a great lunch. Other good sandwiches include melting-soft beef brisket, garlicky salami, and chopped liver. Among the hot dishes is matzoh ball soup masterfully made with extra-strength chicken broth guaranteed to cure anything that ails you.

One day I’ll check it out. Until then, I hope you can.

Shapiro’s Delicatessen Cafeteria
808 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
(317) 573-3355

4 Responses to “The Best Deli I’ve Never Visited”

  1. Marshall Says:

    I think I am spoiled being from Detroit where every ‘real’ deli uses double baked rye bread.

    Needless to say, Shapiro’s doesn’t, and so I find their bread mediocre. And as the bread makes the sandwich, especially for those of us who don’t eat red meat (Turkey Pastrami, what a blessing!), Shapiro’s gets just a passing grade. The strength of the place, for me, is based on many of it’s other options. Nice soup with a good Matzo Ball, a laudable latke, and although it is a deli, many of its’ loyalist swear by the Spaghetti, though I find it shanda-like to try that at a deli.

  2. Nathaniel Says:

    I’ve been, only once, and it was long enough ago that I don’t remember much, except that the corned beef and the pastrami were both pretty good. The non-sandwich food didn’t look like anything special, iirc.

  3. ab Says:

    A phenomenal pastrami. The downtown location oozes character. One of the better delis in the states.

  4. Barry Strum Says:

    Shapiro’s is a great Midwest hybrid…………..Jewish without much of the traditional shtick one associates with NYC. The pastrami is terrific. The side dishes are wonderful cafeteria-style fare with subtle Jewish influences. Soups and traditional Jewish, kasha, kugels…all here. The staff is all Indy folk….. no Sols, Sids, Mannys, or Mels.

    The South Meridian St location is the real deal. The second location is way up north in Carmel……………..set in a Gerigian colonial building that gives one the impression that they’re about to have Anglican style deli.

    Best Midwest deli outside Chicago…..Corky & Lenny’s in Cleveland suburb of Beechwood. Great food and lovable madness (Elderly ladies in Mink coats in July) that one associates with delis as community gathering spots.

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