Tasting Table this week published its list of the 20 best Jewish delis around the country, complete with classics (Katz's in New York) and newcomers (Call Your Mother in Washington D.C.) representing a spectrum of restaurants from the old-school to those "breaking barriers or drawing from a wider variety of cuisines and cultures."
Cleveland not only made the list, but made it twice, with Larder and Jacks Deli taking home the deserved accolades against stiff competition.
Here's what they had to say about Jacks, the eastside staple of four decades:
Jack's Deli has been a Cleveland go-to for all corned beef cravings since 1980. Founded by Jack Markowitz and his sons, the menu stems from roots in Czechoslovakia, where Markowitz grew up. Now run by Jack's son Alvie and business partner Gary, Jack's sits within a local Jewish community in the suburbs of Cleveland's East Side. This deli has kept its menu, and the business itself, fairly traditional.
Like delicatessens of Eastern Europe, Jack's runs a full-service deli serving smoked meats and fish, including house-cured corned beef, a wide range of soups like borscht and barley, and other take home goods. When dining in the restaurant, expect a complimentary mixed assortment of pickles, such as green tomatoes or half-done pickles, to be delivered to your table the moment you sit down. A classic corned beef on rye or Reuben sandwich washed down with a chocolate phosphate is practically a religious experience.
And Larder, which in just four short years in Hingetown has solidified itself as not only one of the best restaurants in Cleveland but the country:
What do an ancient Japanese mold called koji, a foraging habit, and Jewish food have in common? Three time James Beard Award-nominated chef Jeremy Umansky is obsessed with all of them. Umansky is the co-owner and founder of Larder Delicatessen, housed in an old fire station, on the west side of his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Alongside his pastry chef and business partner, Allie La Valle Umansky, the pair bring together their nuanced techniques and culinary training to produce favorites like pastrami on rye, fried chicken sandwiches, babka, and gefilte fish alongside some more unfamiliar items like a vegetarian board with pastrami-cured root vegetables and miso cream cheese.
Plate explains chef Umansky experiments with fermentation using mold koji in multiple offerings, such as koji-cured Angus beef brisket or venison. The chef writes in Koji Alchemy, written with Rich Shih, that koji enhances flavor and digestibility. Larder's small menu changes daily, using as many ingredients as possible that have been grown or sourced within the Great Lakes region (via The London Economic). You'd be a fool to visit Cleveland and miss this old school-meets-innovative local hot spot.