"As I see it, there are two kinds of people in this world; People who love delis, and people you shouldn't associate with."
VI, in his post South Florida - Days 1 - 3
, referred to Miami Beach's Rascal House as the best deli in the US. I am hesitant to call anything "the best", but I have a hard time arguing with VI on this one. Rascal House, if not the best, is easily among the best, and one of my all-time favorites. I was there this past weekend. (I was disappointed to see that they lost all of their signage to Hurricane Wilma, but pleased that they were still bursting at the seams with business.)
I've been visiting Rascal House once or twice a year for about 15 years. My snowbird grandmother lives about a block away during the winter months. When I visit her for a long weekend, one meal at RH is mandatory. Two meals is preferred.
A meal at RH begins with the pickle lottery. You usually have three stainless steel covered bowls on your table, the contents of which are unknown. You're sure to have some kind of dill pickle, but you may also have pickled cabbage, peppers, new pickles, etc.
Contemplating the pickle lottery
During my most recent visit this past weekend, I chowed down on new pickles, half-sours, and some pickled cabbage. I was on my third visit to the bowls before I realized that I should think about lunch. In my world, lunch at a deli is comprised of soup along with one or more of the following: pastrami, corned beef, lox, sable, whitefish (and maybe an order of potato pancakes for the table). I wash it all down with a Dr. Brown's soda (cream soda or cel-ray: Dr. Brown's is the only sweetened, carbonated beverage you will ever see me drink). On my most recent visit, I went with the pastrami and cold borscht.
petit pois always goes for a chocolate egg cream. Even if she says she's not going to have one, before the waitress walks away I hear, "...and a chocolate egg cream, please"
Chocolate egg cream
The pastrami at RH is damn fine. petit pois claims that it's not as good as Katz's, but I think it's right up there (if RH sliced it a little thicker, I think she could be fooled). It's got more of a spicy flavor than the pastrami at Langer's
, it holds up nicely on their house-baked rye, and usually has a good balance of fat and lean. I've had few better pastrami sandwiches.
On the way out, a quick stop at the bakery counter so petit pois could pick up a black and white cookie (beteween the egg creams and the black & whites, I think she is possessed by the spirit of a 50-year-old New Yorker) and my grandmother could get a loaf of seedless rye. While they waited in line, I had just enough time to snap a photo of the quote that greets you at the head of the line to be seated:
Wolfie Cohen's Rascal House
17190 Collins Ave.
Miami Beach, FL
Also in Boca Raton (can't vouch for it)
2006 Executive Dr. NW
Boca Raton, FL