Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

The Best Deli Food


Recommended Posts

Mustachio's is my favourite sandwich joint in T.O  too....

I didn't have time to go down to the market today... but picked up some fries from the fry truck in front of City Hall.. 

They advertise as "Best fries in town" and I tend to agree at least for truck food!

I agree that Rachel Ray is annoying, but she does draw attention to places which is always good for Tourism.

The foccacia at Mustachios is best in the morning, I hate their other buns, too hard/dry. I generally avoid the veal and stick with the eggplant. When I was at GBC, I was addicted to the stuff.

As for fries, I always go to Bozo's on Front street. A huge amount of yummy, thick cut, greasy fries for $2.00. The gravy is blech, but then I prefer mayo or just some salt and pepper.

Anyone go to Coleman's deli on the east side of Bathurst at Lawrence? (it is one of my father's favourites)


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is a review of Pancers' deli from todays Toronto star:

Tradition's intact at the new Pancer's




Moe Pancer's

(out of four)

Location: 3856 Bathurst St. (north of Wilson Ave.), Toronto, 416-633-1230

Hours: Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Seating: 60, more for special events

Wheelchair access: No problem from rear door, wheelchair washroom on main level

Price: $8 to $20 per person, excluding tip and taxes


You've gotta love a deli where the walls are the colour of beet borscht and the cabbage rolls are the size of Buicks.

When Pancer's picked up sticks three months ago and moved a few blocks south after almost 48 years, traditionalists were ready to weep into their chicken soup with matzo balls.

Tradition! Along with rye bread and dill pickles, it's the stuff of which delis are made.

But there's no need for tears (the chicken soup is salty enough): at the new place, there are meat-cutters who have been slicing brisket at Pancer's for more than 40 years.

The new premises also honour tradition with pictures on the beet-hued walls, not just of founder and patriarch Moe, but also, abiding by the dictates of deli decor, of celebrity patrons such as John Candy and David Steinberg in their salad days.

With the stage set, what could be the opening act except a bowl of soup and a plate of kishka?

Soup is simple. Cabbage soup is sweet and sour, with a trace of the former, a ton of chopped, simmered cabbage contributing to the latter, and cubes of flank steak for flavour and heft.

Kishka is complex. It makes you either salivate or retch. Kishka may translate on a menu as stuffed derma, but the real meaning of the word is intestines. (My father, watching wrestling on TV in his dotage, used to exhort, "Hit 'em in the kishkas!")

The kishka of the cow serves as the casing for stuffing (oh, go ahead, be squeamish if you must) mixed with onions, grated carrots and, ideally, a reckless amount of chicken fat. Typically, it's covered with gravy. But kishka connoisseurs, including me, may prefer it pristine.

(Kishka is for me what a madeleine was for Proust, specifically, the kishka from the former Simon's deli in Winnipeg; every other encounter with kishka is paradise lost.)

At Pancer's, the kishka is pleasingly plump and the two-piece appetizer portion ($5.75) is ample. While not approaching that heavenly balance of firm but slightly fluffy, that fine texture and savoury, garlicky seasoning of the über-kishka of memory, Pancer's is less coarse and spongy than most. But the overly viscuous, dark chocolate- coloured gravy made from a family recipe is best avoided unless you find gravy absolutely necessary.

Kishka is also available as a platter ($7.95) with fries or potato salad (rather good, with bits of red and green pepper) and coleslaw (rather vinegary). The dill pickles are Strub's.

Almost everything at Pancer's comes in several forms — appetizer, sandwich, platter — including the mysterious fricassee.

What, you may ask, is fricassee? Well, I did. I asked the server, "What's the fricassee platter?"

She explained, "It's fricassee and it comes with potato and coleslaw."

While fricassee is properly defined as a fried dish, usually white meat in a cream sauce, Pancer's version is the fleshy part of the chicken wing served alone or in combination with beef meatballs, all stewed in a mild paprikash sauce. It's simple, comfort food of the highest order.

But the real measure of a deli is its meat. Pancer's house-made corned beef is brisket that's lean to a fault and cured with finesse. The tongue is smooth, tender and delicately pickled. Chopped liver laced with onion is the perfect consistency, not too coarse and not too smooth, to be spread thickly on bread (from Silverstein's) or to be eaten with a fork.

A big disappointment is that, when you order a combination sandwich for an extra dollar — half corned beef, half chopped liver, for example — it arrives as a mixture, as one sandwich with chopped liver slathered on top of corned beef.

I wasn't disappointed by the service. At each of three visits, the waitress, a different one each time, forgot something or brought the wrong thing and one even argued about what we'd ordered.

If the service had been solicitous and precise instead of diffident and a little peevish, I would have found it lacking and anything but traditional. (At the notorious Carnegie Deli in Manhattan, patrons cherish the conflict as much as the corned beef.)

Besides, says Lorne Pancer, one of the third-generation of siblings who own and manage the restaurant, there are waitresses working at the new place who were around when he was born and diapered him, and one who just retired shortly before her 80th birthday.

Now that's tradition, and at a deli, that's what matters even more than the kishka.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For those trying to figure out what the exact address of "Zupa's" is, it is located at

342 - 1/2 Adelaide Street West at Peter street as noted by Sadistick.

officially left egullet....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...
I'm still waiting to hear more reviews of people who went...I know a few said they were going...so?  :smile:

I went to Zupa's yesterday for dinner. It was my second time there. The first time I had tried their Montréal Smoked sandwiche (I had thought it was pastrami, but my memory was erroneous) and found it blah. This time I tried the corned beef. The first no-no was the friendly fellow behind the counter microwaved the meat. The meat was nicely pink, but the texture was rubbery (possibly because of the microwaving). The flavour was good, if a little salty. It appeared fairly lean by deli standards. A generous helping was given. I was unimpressed with the sandwich overall. If I wanted microwaved cornbeef I would go to shopsy's, which sadly this reminded me of. I will be sticking to northern joints (and Jewish joints) from now on.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Create New...