Save the Deli

Corned Beef Battle of the Midwest

So that whole West Coast v. East Coast pastrami war set off a nice little frenzy of commenting, including that monster from my younger brother. But the most apt one came from Danny Raskin, owner of Manny’s Delicatessen in Chicago, who wrote on my Facebook page “what about midwest??”

Indeed. So often on this site I’m pastrami focused, because that’s what the major deli eating areas (New York, Florida, LA) focus on. But let’s not forget the sweet center of this nation, the glorious Midwest and Great Lakes region, where corned beef is king.

So folks, let’s hear you weigh in. Who holds the title for the finest corned beef in the land. Contenders are:

Detroit: Home of CB maven Sy Ginsberg, The Stage Door Deli, Zingerman’s, Deli Unique, Steve’s and Star

Cleveland: The land of Jack’s, Corky and Lenny’s, and Vienna’s company store

St. Louis: Where the cold corned beef at Protzel’s is still cured in barrels

Chicago: The land of Manny’s, Kaufman’s, The Bagel, Ashkenaz, Eppis Essen, 11 City Diner, and several others

What’s it going to be folks? Where is the beef corniest?

26 Responses to “Corned Beef Battle of the Midwest”

  1. Joan Ginsberg Says:

    Sy Ginsberg also makes the corned beef sold at Vienna Cleveland and Corky and Lenny’s. It’s hardly a contest!

    Sy Ginsberg’s Corned Beef. (Okay, I am just a teensy bit biased.)

  2. Pastrami Joe's Says:

    We have been selling Sy Ginsberg Pastrami and Corned Beef at our stores for the past 6 years. The customers love it and so do we.
    Thanks Sy for being a Midwest kind of guy…

  3. bob groden Says:

    What about the Breadbasket in Southfield, MI?

    Zingerman’s best next to Breadbasket in Detroit, beats Corky and Lenny’s in Cleveland.
    Have lived in Detroit, Chicago and now Cleveland. Cannot comment on Chicago.

  4. Gary Zakem Says:

    Way to go Sy. All of the best in the Midwest is……………………………YOURS!

    Gary, the new guy in Cincy

  5. Joan E. Ginsberg Says:

    Bob Groden:

    Sy Ginsberg also makes all of the corned beef sold at all of the Bread Basket stores so in essence you are “voting” in favor of Sy Ginsberg Corned Beef. Sy also sells to Kaufman’s in Chicago; I SAID there was no contest! :-D

    Sy is very shy about blowing his own horn so I am doing it for him.


  6. Ben Zion Says:

    I divide my life between Indianapolis and Louisville.

    Indy has Shapiro’s, a good but not great deli (although the fact that it’s been around for about a century tells you something). Louisville, which in my opinion has a much more vibrant Jewish scene (even though it’s only half the size of Indy), literally has NO good delis! Shameful. Louisvillians are reduced to shopping at the one Kroger market which carries some kosher foods – commonly referred to by the locals as the “kosher Kroger.” I’m originally from L.A., and frankly, the scene here is a drag. That goodness that Chicago is “only” four hours away. Sigh.

  7. Plays With Food Says:

    Cleveland: Mister Brisket makes the best pastrami, and is tied with Slyman’s for best corned beef, in this ex-New Yorker’s opinion. Corky & Lenny – beh meh. Jack’s is actually also pretty good, but not quite as good as the other two.

  8. TooTall for my kitchen Says:

    While you [David] did name a few Detroit delis, I think you left out a few important names in the neighborhood.

    Most importantly, Sara’s and Unique Kosher, which are the only two kosher delicatessens in the area. Also, Plaza Deli (which makes incredible rye bread and is located next to the best seven-layer cake bakery).

  9. Deli Lover Says:

    And don’t forget Onion Roll Deli in Royal Oak, MI?
    Small place but the food is out of this world. And you can actually talk to the owners any time you’d like.

  10. Brian Shapiro Says:

    Clearly, the author is not a Maven given that the most famous and still family owned 4th generation Deli was not in the book. Shapiro’s in Indy.
    Many of the delis that were mentioned simply steam or reheat pre cooked corned beef. BOO!

  11. I Love Deli's Says:

    Shapiro’s in Indy has the best corned beef in America. Not only is it cooked perfectly, they pile it high between the best rye bread. I have to agree that the author definetely left out one of the best.

  12. Tracy Says:

    Shapiro’s Deli in Indianapolis has been voted one of the Top 10 Deli’s in America by USA Today. Things like this happen for a reason!

  13. Deli Expert Says:

    I have been eating at Jewish deli’s since birth. There is nothing better than Shapiro’s Deli in Indianapolis. The corned beef and pastrami is the best in the world. If you want the best Reuben you have to go to Shapiro’s.

  14. I Love Shapiro's Says:

    My grandparents, parents, and now my family eat at Shapiro’s. It is the BEST Jewish Deli around.

  15. Pastramiking Says:

    I heard Perry’s in Chicago was excellent. I’ve been to the Manny’s satellite in Midway airport, best layover I ever had!!!

  16. Randy Says:

    Gotta go with Shapiros on this one. You just can’t get a better corned beef sandwich. Their rye bread is the best.

  17. Mitch Says:

    The Breadbasket was MUCH better a couple of years ago, before it was sold to new owners. For me, the best deli left in the metro Detroit area is the Stage, run by the same family (the Goldberg’s) that started it 50 years ago. It’s no Ben & George’s or Sol’s, but, then again, there are no Ben & George’s or Sol’s anymore, at least around here. As for the Onion Roll, sorry, the food’s O.K., but it just seems to be a place that sells corned beef and pastrami on onion rolls, not a deli

  18. Mitch Says:

    For me, the Breadbasket was a much better deli several years ago, before being sold to the current owners. I think the best deli in the metro Detroit area is the Stage, still run by the same family (the Goldberg’s) for the past 50 years. It ain’t Ben & George’s or Sol’s, but, then again, there ain’t any Ben & George’s or Sol’s anymore. As for the Onion Roll, the food’s O.K., but I’m not sure that just because a place sells a corned beef or pastrami sandwich on an onion roll that it qualifies as a deli. And none of these places have the ambience of, say, Coleman’s in Toronto, which screams deli when you walk in.

  19. Elizabeth Says:

    As a lifelong Detroiter, I grew up on Ben and George’s. I find the sandwiches and new pickles at Bread Basket to be closest but the quality there is inconsistent, it’s always decent flavor and huge portion but sometimes it’s too chewy. The potato salad at Stars is the closest and to die for but I am not as into Stars corned beef and limited choice options. The Stage has horrible service and is overpriced (although the one at the food court at Somerset Collection is 7 bucks for a sammie compared to 11 and just as good). Zingermans is outrageously priced and in my opinion nothing special (there other sammies are better like BBQ chicken, brisket and Montreal smoked meats). Steve’s deli again is outrageously priced but decent to great depending on day, the pastrami is better than the corned beef there though. Bodes in Plymouth is respectable and cheap but it’s hard to turn down the hash there to get a sandwich (get that hash!). I had a wretched experience at Deli Unique i do not want to elaborate on because it was gross and have not been back since.

  20. rob Says:

    The Star Deli of Southfield is THE BEST in the midwest and possibly the entire country. I have been to Shapiro’s, Corky and Lenny’s, and Manny’s, along with many others. We have at least 5 or 6 delis in the Detroit area that blow these guys away!

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  26. Chris H Says:

    What about Bea’s Best? 76 years and counting same location on the Southside in the historic stockyards.

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