Let us start by asking this question: is there any kind of universal definition for the word "deli?" Are meat markets delis? What's the difference between a deli and a sandwich shop? Well, according to Wikipedia (the ultimate source on everything ever) "A delicatessen or deli is a retail establishment that sells a selection of unusual or foreign prepared foods."
To us, it's a place that sells fine meats, cheeses and beautifully giant cold cut sandwiches. Sometimes it's a sandwich shop, sometimes it's a meat market. We don't really care honestly, we just want a good sandwich. With that in mind, here are 12 Cincinnati delis that you need to check out for your next lunch break.
Carl's Food Shop - Hyde Park
Carl’s Food Shop is exactly what you think of when you imagine an old school neighborhood deli, and it’s maintained that charm through 2017. Walk in and look to the right and you’ll find upwards of 30 different sandwiches you can get made to order paired perfectly with a bottle of San Pellegrino you’ll find in one of the refrigerators beside the counter. The vibe here is unbeatable and a reason why it’s a true Hyde Park landmark.
Where: 2836 Observatory Ave, Hyde Park.
Our Pick: Italian turkey and pepper cheese on a baguette (also awesome in wrap form)
Scherpie's - St. Bernard
If you’re looking a quick, easy and delicious deli dive, look no further than Scherpie’s in St. Bernard. The Boars Head sandwiches are beloved and fans really love the homemade soups and salads you can pair with them, especially the chicken salad.
Where: 503 E Ross Ave, St. Bernard
Our Pick: The daily special
Grand Central Delicatessen - Pleasant Ridge
Grand Central Delicatessen is the new kid at school in Pleasant Ridge, and already they’re one of the most popular. If you want a legit, New York Style deli with a cool atmosphere and a great beer selection, this is the place you need to be. The cold cuts are piled high and to us, all the additions are what set them apart. With items like Basil mayo (The Ridge), Chipotle Gouda (The Blind Pig) and melted Chao Cheese (The Hotsy-Totsy) each sandwich has a unique twist to pair with the meats you know and love.
Where: 6085 Montgomery Rd, Pleasant Ridge.
Our Pick: If it’s on the menu that day, get the Big Palooka. If it’s not, get the Ridge.
Silverglades on 8th - Downtown
With a headline like “Cincinnati’s Oldest Family Owned and Operated Deli Since 1922” you’ve pretty much gotta go, right? If you work downtown you probably already know the glory of Silverglades on 8th but if not, let us explain. Founded originally at Findlay Market almost 100 years ago, Silverglades on 8th is where you go if you’re serious about the meats. They’ve got dozens of specialty sausages and imported Italian salamis that you can get stand alone or on one of their many mouthwatering sandwiches. If you go, don’t pass up the prosciutto.
Where: 236 E 8th St, Downtown
Our Pick: The Little Italy
Clermont Springs Deli & Carryout - Anderson Twp.
Clermont Springs is another loveable neighborhood spot that’s been family owned for more than 40 years. Half liquor store, half purveyor of fine meats and cheeses stuffed between good bread. Here, it’s all about the value. You can get a great, no frills yet totally satisfying sandwich for $5. Add one of the big pickles for another dollar and thank us later.
Where: 8427 Beechmont Ave, Anderson Township.
Our Pick: Pastrami on Rye with a hot pickle.
Caffe Barista and Deli - Downtown
A great deli is as much about a great sandwich as it is about getting something to go. At Caffe Barista downtown, you can get all the cold cuts you want to take home, along with all those random groceries you need. They’ve also got specials that change daily and are all equally delicious.
Where: 231 W 4th St, Downtown.
Our Pick: The Cajun roast beef with provolone.
California Deli - California
Every list needs a hidden gem, with an emphasis on the word gem. If you’ve ever driven out to Riverbend or Coney Island, odds are you drove right by California Deli. Take it from us and plan 30 minutes to stop there next time. Here, it’s all about that ooey-gooey melted cheese. Whether it’s a reuben or a grilled cheese of your wildest creation, they do a hot sandwich right at California Deli.
Where: 5935 Kellogg Ave,
Our Pick: A custom grilled cheese with a bag of Grippos.
Lamandi - Clifton
If you’re a UC student, or simply a fan of a great sandwich, Lamandi should be on your radar. Another New York style deli via Corryville, you’ll definitely get what you pay for here as they pile the meats and cheeses high on whatever you order. And if for some unknown reason you’re not in the mood for a sandwich, the Mandi chicken is a must try.
Where: 3205 Jefferson Ave, Corryville.
Our Pick: The All American
J&W Sandwich Shoppe - Norwood
If a classic, goliath sized Cincinnati double-decker is what you’re after, it’s J&W’s all the way. Tucked away on a semi-random street in Norwood, you can get a giant sandwich of your choice with chips and a drink for $7 or less. Amen.
Where: 2004 Worth Ave, Norwood.
Our Pick: The turkey/turkey double decker with mayo.
Panino - Over-the-Rhine
Curing fine meats is truly an art form, and Panino owner Nino Loreto is basically the Leo da Vinci of Cincinnati salumi. Underneath the beautiful dining room at Panino is a meat aging cave where Loreto makes the salamis for your sandwich by hand. Go to Panino, get a sandwich or some salumi+charcuterie and see the difference that handmade, ethically sourced meat makes.
Where: 1315 Vine Street, Over-the-Rhine
Our Pick: The Handcrafted Italian
J&J Restaurant - Westwood
Double deckers, cheese fries, chili, bacon and eggs… we’ll take all of the above at this classic diner. Good, affordable eats in a relaxed atmosphere make this the perfect restaurant for any occasion. This is another great spot for a classic Cincinnati double-decker.
Where: 6159 Glenway Ave, Westwood
Our Pick: Any of the double deckers.
Fred and Gari's - Downtown
It appears that the Central Business District is truly the meat mecca in Cincinnati. That’s evident when you step into Fred and Gari’s, a little shop that’s been slinging soup and sandwiches since 1987 with “the gourmet touch.” Simple, satisfying sandwiches served by a friendly staff. We can’t ask for much more.
Where: 629 Vine St, Downtown.
Our Pick: The Turkey Club