Kaufman’s Bagel & Delicatessen
4905 Dempster STreet
Skokie, IL 60077
Again, this is one of my parents’ favorite places. They have been raving over the corned beef for YEARS… and with good reason. A family owned business since 1955, Kaufman’s is a go to place for anything deli: bagels, bread, meats, and fresh made bakery items as well as bags of chips and pickles. They also specialize in many Jewish delicacies such as gefilte fish, lox, kugel, challah and matzoh ball soup. They have separate bakery and deli counters, and offer deli trays and other catering specialties, prepackaged containers of two different kinds of coleslaw (cream based and vinegar based), potato salad and several different kinds of soups as well.
The place is generally busy, and on the day we went I think we circled the block at least three times… with several other people, including one of Skokie’s finest! My mom ended up dropping my dad and I off to order while she waited for a parking spot. The lines for each counter and the check out wrapped completely around the inside of the building, but the food is definitely worth the wait.
We stepped up to the deli counter to place our orders. My parents generally split a sandwich called the New Jersey Bypass, which is a double decker sandwich with corned beef and pastrami on rye. I then ordered an Auntie Judy (corned beef and turkey with coleslaw), and asked the dreaded questions… “can I get that without bread?” The gentleman behind the counter looked at me for a second and then said “are you gluten free?” I told him I was, and he leaned forward (a bit conspiratorially), and said to me “tell ya what. I’m going to go change my gloves because I just touched bread. Then, I’m going to make YOUR sandwich first, and I’m going to wrap the whole thing in lettuce. How does that sound?” I told him it sounded absolutely wonderful and did a little happy dance which made him smile.
Good food takes a bit, so mom (who had finally found a parking space!) and I grabbed chips, some coleslaw from the cooler and a four pack of Bruce Cost Passion Fruit Ginger Ale (OH YUM), and got in line to pay for our lunch while Dad waited for the sandwiches. The eagle eye of the owner in the back of the shop saw the long lines, and sent a young man out with samples of cake for those waiting. My mom said it was really good. Dad was still waiting when we finished paying, so we went and found a seat at a table. The owner herself asked if we needed plates, mom said we’d be all right, but she insisted and came back HERSELF with paper plates and utensils. About that time, Dad came over with two bags (he even packaged my sandwich and pickle SEPARATELY), and we set down to eat.
I now know why my parents share a sandwich. They’re HUGE! I ate about half of mine and some of the chips, I ended up eating the other half for dinner later. The meat was wonderful; almost a melt in your mouth quality, and not overly fatty like some corned beef can be. The coleslaw added a nice crunch and a bit of tang, and the pickles are just fabulous. I love pickles, and really miss the ones my grandmother used to make. The ones at Kaufman’s remind me of Grandma’s pickles.
The overall experience was wonderful, and I can’t wait to visit my parents again.