Nosh Time

Ada’s Famous Deli & Restaurant

14 S. Wabash | 312-214-4282

$

AMERICAN, KOSHER/JEWISH/DELI | BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: EVERY NIGHT TILL 11

The sole city location for this otherwise suburban deli chain. The cavernous dining room is filled with Loop workers and students for lunch; dinner attracts theatergoers and those seeking an after-work nosh or quick takeout. While the food—matzo ball soup, corned beef, chopped liver, and other deli standards—doesn’t break any new ground, it’s satisfying. Portions are generous; deluxe sandwiches teeter with meat and trimmings and are served with pickles, coleslaw, and your choice of soup, fries, or a potato pancake. —Martha Bayne

Ashkenaz Delicatessen

12 E. Cedar | 312-944-5006

$

KOSHER/JEWISH/DELI | BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS

The deli’s menu says “Push your way to the front of the line by calling ahead!” I hardly ever do that—my lunches are usually hasty, spur-of-the-moment events. But then on a couple stops at Ashkenaz the deli was busy and the wait was slightly longer than expected. Luckily, the food made up for it. The first time I opted for the pastrami-and-turkey sandwich. It was packed with meat, enough for two meals. The second time I got a combo—a corned beef sandwich, matzo ball soup, and three-bean salad—and added a cheese blintz for good measure. All were tasty and fresh. But one day I had to run some errands during my lunch break. So I called ahead and ordered a box lunch: pastrami sandwich, chips, brownie, pickle, coleslaw, and a fruit cup. Along the way I bumped into an old friend. I was a few minutes late, and a staff member chuckled when he saw me. But the sandwich still tasted fresh. —Michael Marsh

The Bagel

3107 N. Broadway | 773-477-0300

$

KOSHER/JEWISH/DELI | BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL 11 | BYO | RESERVATIONS FOR LARGE GROUPS ONLY

A big bowl of Mish-Mash Soup—chicken broth with noodles, kreplach, rice, kasha, and a matzo ball—is the object of many a flu-addled diner’s pilgrimage to this much-loved Lakeview deli. Other menu items, while not as overtly therapeutic, have similarly comforting effects. They include an array of hearty sandwiches, daily soups, and hot entrees. Breakfast is served all day. The room has been given a recent face-lift, but retains its Broadway theme. A take-out counter in front does brisk business. —Martha Bayne

Charmers Cafe/Dagel and Beli

1500 W. Jarvis | 773-743-2233

$

KOSHER/JEWISH/DELI, COFFEE SHOP | BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

Ram on High (“numperpickel bagel, hoked money sham, swiss, tour yoice of choppings”). Fart Smella (“barlic gagel, boast reef, comato, tapers, and lomaine rettuce”). Spoonerisms are all very well in their way, I suppose, but this little deli and cafe goes so nuts with the verbal scramblings that deciphering the offerings just might drive you nuts. Thankfully the place does offer a “translation menu” in plain English. The other gimmick here is that the more-than-25 specialty bagel sandwiches all come steamed, which has an upside (who doesn’t like melted cheese?) but also a slight downside—since the process takes about ten minutes, you’ll wait a little while for your food. The bagels themselves are from New York Bagel & Bialy, and they come with a wide range of accompaniments, from spicy mayo to olive cream cheese. Whereas Dagel and Beli used to adjoin Charmers Cafe, it’s now been merged with it, so Charmers’ pastries from Bennison’s, Homer’s ice cream, teas, and superior Metropolis coffee are also available. —Kate Schmidt

Eleven City Diner

1112 S. Wabash | 312-212-1112

$$

KOSHER/JEWISH/DELI | BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

Don’t go to Eleven City Diner expecting the fast, brusque treatment you usually find in a traditional deli. Dinner service on one of my visits was polite to the point of approval seeking: a staffer made a special trip to the table to find out if the egg cream he’d made was up to par. (Yes.) Despite its unnerving lack of attitude, Eleven City offers other traditional trappings—there’s a pie case up front, and matzo ball soup, knishes, and tuna melts on the menu. But as an all-day-breakfast fan, I chose the huge and excellent challah French toast topped with strawberries, bananas, and coconut—”I’m going to have to get in on that action” was a fellow diner’s response. There’s a full bar, and they don’t skimp on desserts here, either: the root beer float (made with Homer’s ice cream) comes in a glass three fists high, and I struck ice cream as soon as I stuck my spoon in the foam. On the other side of the restaurant is a deli counter stocked with sandwich fixings—corned beef, egg salad—for carryout customers. Maybe they’re ruder over there. —Anne Ford

Jaffa Bagels

225 N. Michigan | 312-565-1267

$

AMERICAN, KOSHER/JEWISH/DELI | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: MONDAY-FRIDAY | CLOSED SATURDAY, SUNDAY

In much the same way that Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing slowly changed into 3M, maker of Post-It Notes, Jaffa Bagels has become the city’s preeminent supplier of fresh roast turkey sandwiches. All the dozens of corporate lunchers in line are there to order the $6.79 lunch special, which is a turkey sandwich, generous soda, and chips. You get your own drink first, then quickly give the line of servers your order, for example: “mixed, dry, sesame.” Which means mixed dark and white meat, without extra juice, on a sesame bun. The second guy in the serving line mans the condiments, which include perfectly executed falafel balls; the cashier bags it and inserts off-brand chips. The sandwich itself is delicious, the platonic ideal of the post-Thanksgiving leftover. By the way, I’ve never seen anyone there order a bagel, but then the staff doesn’t seem like they’re from Jaffa either. —Peter Sagal

Levinson’s Bakery

2856 W. Devon | 773-761-3174

$

KOSHER/JEWISH/DELI | Monday 9 AM-3 PM, Tuesday-Thursday 6 AM-6 pm, Friday-saturday 6 am-7 pm, sunday 6 am-5 pm

One of the original Jewish bakeries on this stretch of Devon, Levinson’s has been in operation for more than 80 years. It offers cookies and bagels alongside other traditional goods: challah, braided coffee cakes with almond, apricot, and cherry fillings, and honey cakes topped with slivered almonds. There are several sinful pastries, like napoleons (crisp layers of pastry separated by layers of custard, fruit preserves, and chocolate mousse), plus mandelbrot and various rolls made with a sweet egg dough. —Laura Levy Shatkin

Manny’s Coffee Shop & Deli

1141 S. Jefferson | 312-939-2855

$

AMERICAN, KOSHER/JEWISH/DELI | BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: MONDAY-SATURDAY | CLOSED SUNDAY | RESERVATIONS FOR LARGE GROUPS ONLY

Some things are never as good as they used to be. The delis of yesteryear were palaces, serving sliced meat a mile high for $1.98. Now? At Manny’s the latkes are very good, light and crisp, fluffy and flavorful—you don’t need a side of applesauce to enjoy. But you should have had them before! They were potato ambrosia, splendor in the grease. And these prices: $10.95 for a sandwich in a cafeteria? A strange one too: instead of paying at the end of the line like G-d intended, you pay on the way out, after you eat. But Manny’s has been here since 1942, and they know what they’re doing. They serve brisket, roast beef, corned beef, very lean, and pastrami, fatty in all the right places, piled high on rye. Too high! How are you supposed to eat all this? So share or get a doggie bag. What else are you going to order at a place like Manny’s—a veggie burger? And look, they have all the condiments right on the table, mustard in both colors, your salt, your pepper, sugar and ketchup, a napkin holder, very useful. Years ago all the big shots ate here; now it’s all hoi polloi. But you can still get a cigar at the register, a piece of candy, some gum, your choice of Tums or Rolaids. See, at Manny’s they know what they’re doing. —Jeffrey Felshman

New York Bagel & Bialy

4714 W. Touhy, Lincolnwood | 847-677-9388

BAKERY, KOSHER/JEWISH/DELI | 24 HOURS EVERY DAY | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

It’s easy to drive right past this unassuming storefront, tucked away in a Lincolnwood strip mall. But it’s Chicago’s mecca for bagels. I can think of no better weekend nosh than a chewy, just-baked pumpernickel bagel with lox, red onion, tomato, and a thick schmear of cream cheese. The bialys are the real deal too—try the onion, simply toasted and buttered. And it’s open 24 hours, so whenever the mood strikes you, there’s a bagel waiting. The carless can get their fix at restaurants and sandwich shops around the city, among them Dagel and Beli and the Bagel. —Kate Schmidt