Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
Sign In | Register for Free!
Restaurants Recipes Forums Eating Tours Merchandise FAQ Maps Insider

Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen

700 S. Fourth St., Philadelphia, PA - (215) 922-3274
Posted By Michael Stern on 9/22/2008 9:28:00 AM
When Jane and I met him in 1983, proprietor David Auspitz described his Famous 4th Street Delicatessen as "a living museum. You can bring your kid and see what a real delicatessen is like." Since then, the 1923 Queen Village restaurant has undergone several changes in ownership and management and it has had its ups and downs, but today it is an exemplary kosher-style eatery: glass cases up front full of smoked fish, wrinkly salamis hanging from the ceiling, colossal sandwiches of cured meat, and such classic Jewish fare as matzoh ball soup, noodle kugel, and stuffed cabbage drenched in sweet-and-sour gravy.

Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. croon on the sound system in the background. A plate arrives with crisp cole slaw and a half-sour pickle. Dr. Brown's soda comes in a can along with an immense tumbler full of ice. And finally – ta-da! – the sandwich arrives. You can have it regular-sized, which is large, or zaftig, meaning comically so. The pastrami is shockingly tender, judiciously spiced even at its blackened edges, rich enough to feel like wanton indulgence, but not obscenely fatty. The waitress explains that the meat comes from Chicago, but sings huzzahs: "He spices it and steams it for hours. He is crazy for that corned beef." So am I.

Famous Fourth cookies, which we described in the original "Goodfood" guidebook as "rich and toasty, big round beauties filled with large chips and nutmeats, an ideal balance between crispness and chew," are as good as ever, available in three basic forms: chocolate chip, walnut chocolate chip, and oatmeal raisin.

While not cloyingly so, décor truly is nostalgic: an ancient black-and-white tiny-tile floor, vintage mirrored cabinets at the back of the dining area, and walls crowded with press accolades and pictures of the still-famous and long-forgotten personages who have eaten here.

13 out of 13 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes

Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Pastrami Sandwich (zaftig)
Potato Pancakes
Cookies
Dr. Brown's Soda
Smoked Salmon Hash with Two Eggs
Pickle & Slaw
Rate this place

Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

A close view of Famous Fourth Street's pastrami only hints at its spicy luxury. The blackened edges are more savory than words can say; the steamy pink meat virtually melts in your mouth.
"A close view of Famous Fourth Street's pastrami only hints at its spicy luxury. The blackened edges are more savory than words can say; the steamy pink meat virtually melts in your mouth."
Michael Stern





Zaftig is a yiddish word that means juicy, succulent, pleasingly plump. This is Famous Fourth Street's zaftig version of the pastrami sandwich. Big as it is -- even the rye bread is sliced extra-thick -- you actually can pick up half in two hands; however, it is too tall for a human jaw to unhinge enough to engulf it from top to bottom.
"Zaftig is a yiddish word that means juicy, succulent, pleasingly plump. This is Famous Fourth Street's zaftig version of the pastrami sandwich. Big as it is -- even the rye bread is sliced extra-thick -- you actually can pick up half in two hands; however, it is too tall for a human jaw to unhinge enough to engulf it from top to bottom. "
Michael Stern


A classic start to a deli meal: crisp cole slaw and a crunchy dill pickle
"A classic start to a deli meal: crisp cole slaw and a crunchy dill pickle"
Michael Stern


Among the many side dishes to accompany a sandwich, latkes (potato pancakes) are notable primarily for their extreme crunch.
"Among the many side dishes to accompany a sandwich, latkes (potato pancakes) are notable primarily for their extreme crunch."
Michael Stern


Along with pastrami and matzoh balls, cookies are a big reason the Famous Fourth Street Deli is famous. They are plump and buttery, loaded with chocolate chips (in the foreground) or chips and walnuts (center). The one at the rear is plush oatmeal raisin.
"Along with pastrami and matzoh balls, cookies are a big reason the Famous Fourth Street Deli is famous. They are plump and buttery, loaded with chocolate chips (in the foreground) or chips and walnuts (center). The one at the rear is plush oatmeal raisin."
Michael Stern


The traditional brand of beverage to drink alongside a corned beef or pastrami sandwich is Dr. Brown's soda, preferably Cel-Ray or Black Cherry. Famous Fourth Street Deli brings the can to the table along with a huge Coke-branded tumbler full of ice.
"The traditional brand of beverage to drink alongside a corned beef or pastrami sandwich is Dr. Brown's soda, preferably Cel-Ray or Black Cherry. Famous Fourth Street Deli brings the can to the table along with a huge Coke-branded tumbler full of ice."
Michael Stern


Do not come to the Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen unless you are very, very hungry. There is nothing small on the menu.
"Do not come to the Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen unless you are very, very hungry. There is nothing small on the menu."
Michael Stern



What is Roadfood?  |   Submit Content  |   Privacy Policy  |   Contact Roadfood.com   Copyright - Roadfood.com