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Jake's

1634 W. North Ave., Milwaukee, WI - (414) 562-1272
Posted By Michael Stern on 4/20/2015 6:00:00 AM
Jake's corned beef is rapturously luscious (unless you get it extra lean). A bit of its secret is that each hunk of brisket is sprinkled with paprika just before getting sliced, but the depth of flavor here also comes from the fact that a dozen or more briskets are boiled together, their pot becoming a slurry of spice and beef flavor that re-insinuates itself into the fibers of the meat. Slices come medium-thick and they are piled into slick-crusted, Milwaukee-made Miller bakery seeded rye: not an outrageously huge sandwich like you might get in Chicago or New York, but in no way skimpy, either. We see the meat-to-bread ratio as perfect.

There are other items on Jake's menu: pastrami, turkey pastrami, hard salami, hot dogs, soups-like-mama-should-have-made, even grilled chicken and a tuna melt, as well as a superb Reuben with sauerkraut and cheese. But for us, and for generations of Milwaukeeans, Jake's is synonymous with corned beef on rye. It's been around since 1935, when the neighborhood was mostly Jewish. Original proprietor Reuben Cohen sold it to Jake, who sold it to Irv Kassoff, whose son Michael ran it until 2009, when Gary Plassmeyer took over.

The original restaurant is a virtual museum set: the mid-20th century urban deli, its walls a faded pale yellow, its tables topped with worn linoleum, ancient wooden booths outfitted with out-of-order buzzers once used to summon service. In fact, there still is table service, and it is charming. On the other hand, many of Jake's customers simply get their sandwich at the counter and carry it to a stool at the old soda fountain across the room.

Note: Jake's has locations in the food courts of the Southridge Mall and the Grand Avenue Mall.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Corned Beef Sandwich
Matzoh Ball Soup
Pastrami
Reuben
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Jake's sandwich is not overstuffed. It contains what we consider to be the ideal ratio of meat to (superb) rye bread. You can pick up half without too much spillage and either squirt mustard onto the whole thing, or apply it bite by bite. By the way, those pickle spears, made here, have real snap. On the side, Dr. Brown's sodas are available, of course.
"Jake's sandwich is not overstuffed. It contains what we consider to be the ideal ratio of meat to (superb) rye bread. You can pick up half without too much spillage and either squirt mustard onto the whole thing, or apply it bite by bite. By the way, those pickle spears, made here, have real snap. On the side, Dr. Brown's sodas are available, of course."
Michael Stern





Pastrami, which is smoked and peppered, is sultry. Terrific as it is, we love the mellower character of Jake's corned beef even more.
"Pastrami, which is smoked and peppered, is sultry. Terrific as it is, we love the mellower character of Jake's corned beef even more."
Michael Stern


We had no intention of eating anything but sandwiches when we came to Jake's, but Jane was coming down with a cold. This lovely matzoh ball soup was just what the doctor ordered.
"We had no intention of eating anything but sandwiches when we came to Jake's, but Jane was coming down with a cold. This lovely matzoh ball soup was just what the doctor ordered."
Michael Stern


Jake's also uses their excellent corned beef to make first-rate reubens.
"Jake's also uses their excellent corned beef to make first-rate reubens."
Cliff Strutz


The soda fountain is no longer in use; but once the lunch crowd starts to flood into Jake's, each of these stools will be occupied by a sandwich-eater.
"The soda fountain is no longer in use; but once the lunch crowd starts to flood into Jake's, each of these stools will be occupied by a sandwich-eater."
Michael Stern


We cannot tell you that the wooden booths at Jake's are comfortable, but there is something very reassuring about their sturdy longevity.
"We cannot tell you that the wooden booths at Jake's are comfortable, but there is something very reassuring about their sturdy longevity."
Michael Stern


We assume that at some time in Jake's past, the buzzer in each booth was used to summon a waiter. They have now gone kaput or have been disconnected.
"We assume that at some time in Jake's past, the buzzer in each booth was used to summon a waiter. They have now gone kaput or have been disconnected."
Michael Stern


For years, we were ignorant of Milwaukee's status as a great corned beef city. It was only after loving the corned beef at McBob's, while on a fish-fry expedition, that we realized corned beef was a subject that needed investigation.
"For years, we were ignorant of Milwaukee's status as a great corned beef city. It was only after loving the corned beef at McBob's, while on a fish-fry expedition, that we realized corned beef was a subject that needed investigation."
Michael Stern


Jakes used to be a three-meal-a-day deli, and its products included smoked fish and full hot meals. Today it is a lunch-only spot where smoked and cured meats are the main attraction.
"Jakes used to be a three-meal-a-day deli, and its products included smoked fish and full hot meals. Today it is a lunch-only spot where smoked and cured meats are the main attraction."
Michael Stern



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