Rye Deli & Drink - Chicago
Chicago has never had a strong deli culture. Now, all that’s changing, and the city boasts some of the best delicatessens we’ve ever had, and there are a number of them. One of the newest and best of this new wave is Rye Deli & Drink.
Rye Deli & Drink delivers from-scratch, house-made traditional deli favorites that elevate the traditional offerings to new levels of excellence. The hand-formed bagels use stone-milled organic grains; the pastrami, smoked in house, leverages prime Iowa premium briskets, brined for 21 days and smoked nine hours on applewood and oak; and the Skuna Bay salmon is cured in Detroit Dark Red Beet and smoked for eight hours.
Rye Deli & Drink serves up some outstanding renditions of the classics, like matzoh ball soup, pastrami, corned beef and the Reuben – but the select ingredients and meticulous preparations far exceed anything you’ve probably enjoyed in delis, even in places like Brooklyn.
Baking the bagels and smoking the meat in-house makes a huge difference, but Rye & Deli also serves such unexpected deliciousness as Wagyu sirloin with harissa, wilted spinach, and tahini aioli, as well as their signature brik, a crunchy Tunisian crepe made of free range egg, fingerling potatoes, fresh thyme and dill.
There are also some original dishes on the menu like roasted butternut squash with tahini and fava bean hummus with dates.
Try to find a deli, anywhere, that offers such a broad and creative collection of cocktails and other spirited beverages, several named after what we’re guessing are favorite movies of the owners, like Once Upon a Time in Mexico (on the rocks with Diplomatico white rum, coconut, fresh lime, and bitters) and Clockwork Orange (Tito's vodka, fresh carrot juice, aquavit, and lemon). These cocktails are available by the glass ($10), quart ($45) and gallon ($165).
There is a somewhat surprisingly broad selection of beer and wine…and, of course, some outstanding coffee options, including nitro and cold brew on draft, and a fine selection of caffeinated and decaffeinated teas.
And then there are the bagels, made in house and enhanced with some innovative smears like labneh and melted leeks; burnt eggplant with garlic, lemon and pomegranate; fava bean with preserved lemon; and charred strawberries and honey. Try finding anything like that in a traditional deli.
As Chef Billy Caruso explained to Eater Chicago, ““It’s not that I think there’s something to ‘fix’ in a Jewish deli. We just want a lighter version that’s chef driven. We’re making it more health conscious, thinking a little more about the ingredients.”
Suffice to say, at Rye Deli and Drink, you will experience some of the best deli food you’ve ever had, anywhere.