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Al's Deli in Evanston

Al's Deli in Evanston
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  • Al's Deli in Evanston

    Post #1 - September 15th, 2005, 7:05 pm
    Post #1 - September 15th, 2005, 7:05 pm Post #1 - September 15th, 2005, 7:05 pm
    Since it is close to where I work, I find myself going there quite often these days. Al and his brother run a two-man operation of made to order goodness of wonderfully fresh bread (baguette, 7grain, rosemary bread croissants) and a choice of either (boiled) ham, turkey, roast beef... The no frill handwritten menu maps different breads to different meats with condiments of mostly the freshest tomato, lettuce, red onions smothered with your choice of grainy french mustard, wonderful homemade garlic mayo or blue cheese spreads. The two brothers' statement, I think, is that even a modest Turkey sandwich with no ornate sauces or decked out fancy breads, can be an extremely tasty creation. And they do succeed: the Turkey sandwich from Al's hands is something you will remember.


    They also have a daily soup (today's was a "farmer's market vegetable" ) and chili (I cannot appreciate soups in styrofoam cups... it is one of those things...) and do NOT forget the butter cookies with or without homemade frosting (more on those later).

    The place is tiny, and so prepare to wait in a single file line... but no worries, the boys have plastered the walls with delectable posters and photos (with French influence) that are sure to make the wait bearable.

    Elie

    Details:

    Al's Deli
    914 Noyes St.
    Evanston, IL
    847-475-9400
    (street parking and public parking lot across. Adjacent to the noyes st stop) hours: everyday 11-4pm, except Wednesdays (closed).

    pps. while there, you can also stop by Kim's kitchen across the street for amazing fresh scones...
  • Post #2 - September 15th, 2005, 8:36 pm
    Post #2 - September 15th, 2005, 8:36 pm Post #2 - September 15th, 2005, 8:36 pm
    My kids love the cookies from Al's. It's just weird that it's closed Wednesdays, which I can never remember, and have shown up to get cookies only to be disappointed.
    ToniG
  • Post #3 - September 15th, 2005, 8:38 pm
    Post #3 - September 15th, 2005, 8:38 pm Post #3 - September 15th, 2005, 8:38 pm
    mmm......butter cookies from Al's Deli....*salivating*

    Reminds me of the times I would stop by for an afternoon cookie on the way home to my apt after class. It's hard to make it out there nowadays as their hours are quite short. Glad to hear that things haven't changed.

    I can't tell you how many time I craved a cookie on Wed!
  • Post #4 - September 16th, 2005, 11:35 am
    Post #4 - September 16th, 2005, 11:35 am Post #4 - September 16th, 2005, 11:35 am
    Al's is my favorite spot for a roast beef sandwich's. It's a great little family-owned business. I think Al passes away a few years ago and the shop is run by his son's. They use excellent, simple ingredients--great horseradish sauce and bread. The sandwich's may seem a little expensive (they run about $6.50) but they are HUGE.
    Definitely save room for an iced butter cookie. Hmmmmm.....
  • Post #5 - September 16th, 2005, 12:12 pm
    Post #5 - September 16th, 2005, 12:12 pm Post #5 - September 16th, 2005, 12:12 pm
    Al's roast beef croissant has always been a favorite: somehow he finds decent tomatoes off-season, lettuce, thinly-sliced beef, swiss cheese and bearnaise sauce for a very decadent sandwich. I believe there's a similar turkey version too.

    I'm an NU alum, and for several years MrsF and I ran concessions for an annual fencing tourney -- but we couldn't sell food directly (administration rules), we just collected a service fee given to the team (mostly to pay for the tourney directors' and judges' lunches) to pick stuff up at a couple of local places. We bought one heck of a lot from Al's deli.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #6 - October 23rd, 2007, 8:38 am
    Post #6 - October 23rd, 2007, 8:38 am Post #6 - October 23rd, 2007, 8:38 am
    LTH,

    Met Ronnie Suburban and Steve Z at Al's Deli, first time for Ron and me, though Steve, who gets around 'bout as well as anyone, with the possible exception of ReneG, had been.

    Al's Deli
    Image

    As mentioned upthread Al's is tiny with a lunch time line, but the line moves quickly and seating is surprisingly comfortable.

    Al's Deli
    Image

    Numerous well thought out sandwich combinations, Chili and Soupe au Pistou as Monday specials and half sandwich/bowl of soup for $6.95.

    Monday specials
    Image

    Steve and Ron went for turkey on a baguette, I believe Steve mentioned Red Hen bread, with Swiss, lettuce, tomato, mayo and French grainy mustard.

    Turkey on a Baguette
    Image

    I had the same ingredients though on 7-grain bread.
    Image

    Quality, care of construction and balance of ingredients elevated the seemingly simple turkey sandwich.

    I liked the Midwest style chili, ie w/beans, though would suggest Al's keep a bottle of hot sauce on hand. I'm in the minority, but Al's Iced Butter Cookies are not to my taste, cookie was fine, but I found the icing cloyingly sweet. I liked the Orange Sugar cookie, but it's not something I go out of my way for.

    Iced Butter Cookie (top) Orange Sugar Cookie (Bottom)
    Image

    The owners, Al's sons, have excellent attention to detail and a very nice, if subdued, way of interacting with customers.

    John (L) Bob (R) Pottinger
    Image

    If I was in the area I'd be a regular for Al's hearty well made sandwiches.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Al's Deli
    914 Noyes St.
    Evanston, IL
    847-475-9400
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #7 - October 23rd, 2007, 9:07 am
    Post #7 - October 23rd, 2007, 9:07 am Post #7 - October 23rd, 2007, 9:07 am
    Great photos, Gary. I think you captured what I've always believed, that Al's is elegant in its simplicity.

    That block of Noyes in is one of my favorite eating blocks in all of Evanston...
    Did you know there is an LTHforum Flickr group? I just found it...
  • Post #8 - October 23rd, 2007, 9:34 am
    Post #8 - October 23rd, 2007, 9:34 am Post #8 - October 23rd, 2007, 9:34 am
    G Wiv wrote:I'm in the minority, but Al's Iced Butter Cookies are not to my taste, cookie was fine, but I found the icing cloyingly sweet. I liked the Orange Sugar cookie, but it's not something I go out of my way for.


    I work about two minutes away from Al's and make frequent cookie runs. You've got to try one of their spice cookies which handle the icing much better than the plain butter ones. I think the butter cookies (un-iced) are far superior at Kim's Kitchen down the street.
  • Post #9 - October 23rd, 2007, 10:35 am
    Post #9 - October 23rd, 2007, 10:35 am Post #9 - October 23rd, 2007, 10:35 am
    At the risk of being somewhat redundant, here's my take on yesterday's lunch . . .

    I'd never been to the French-themed deli but I really enjoyed the experience . . .

    Image
    Al's Deli - 914 Noyes Street, Evanston


    Image
    The first thing you see in the front window, when you approach Al's, are trays of freshly-baked cookies (more on these later).


    Image
    Al's menu
    Choices are fairly straightforward -- turkey, smoked turkey, ham and a couple of vegetarian sandwiches options are available. They're offered on baguette, croissant or freshly-baked bread. A soup and chili are both offered by the cup or bowl and an off-beat variety of chips and bottled beverages are available.


    Image
    Co-owner Bob Pottinger tallies an order
    Al's Deli is named for the late Al, who was the father of the 2 brothers, Bob and John Pottinger, who own and operate it.


    Image
    Chili
    This chili meaty and flavorful even though I usually prefer a little more heat.


    Image
    Roast turkey on multi-grain


    Image
    Smoked turkey on baguette
    Sandwiches are generously portioned and served on Red Hen baguette.


    Image
    Smoked turkey on baguette
    Al's sandwiches are comprised of noticeably fresh ingredients, including some nice lettuce and decent tomato. In addition to smoked turkey, this sandwich also contains swiss cheese, mayonnaise and grainy mustard. Aioli is also offered.


    Image
    John Pottinger guards the not-so-secret stash of frosted cookies
    One of the specialties of the house is the frosted sugar cookies. As we 'discovered,' they're stashed in this handy dandy chest freezer after being frosted. That gives the cookies an especially chewy texture.


    Image
    Frosted sugar cookie (left), Orange-Sugar cookie
    No question these are some sweet cookies. I love this style of cookie, although they provide quite a sugar rush. They're throwback-type sweets and they're delicious.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #10 - October 23rd, 2007, 10:43 am
    Post #10 - October 23rd, 2007, 10:43 am Post #10 - October 23rd, 2007, 10:43 am
    I love Al's Deli and the cookies in particular.

    I can understand why someone who doesn't like very sweet icings would not like the iced cookies. (I do and I do.) But for those who don't, get the chocolate chip cookies. I think theirs are the only ones I've ever had, anywhere, that taste exactly like the best homemade ones you've ever had fresh out of the oven, using the recipe on the Nestle's bag. IMHO, you have to get the chocolate chip cookies to understand what the big deal is with the cookies at Al's.
  • Post #11 - August 27th, 2010, 11:42 am
    Post #11 - August 27th, 2010, 11:42 am Post #11 - August 27th, 2010, 11:42 am
    I walked past Al's today on my way to picnic in the park across the street and noticed what I think are new sandwich offerings:

    Image

    I've always thought pairing smoked salmon with cream cheese instead of brie was a mistake, so I'm happy that my preferred combination is available near my office.

    An aside, but I also like how chalkboards have cropped up on the sidewalks of the little Noyes St. business district. (Okay, so maybe there are only three or four chalkboards, but that's a lot for barely two blocks.) My favorite is the chalkboard artist at Fraîche Cafe...

    Image

    Very Hieronymous Bosch, methinks. The quinoa burger is the most recent photo I have, but I especially like the Fraîche artist's leggy bowls of soup with fishnet stockings.
  • Post #12 - April 8th, 2011, 5:32 pm
    Post #12 - April 8th, 2011, 5:32 pm Post #12 - April 8th, 2011, 5:32 pm
    Stopped over at Al's Deli and had the Smoked Salmon sandwich mentioned above.
    Image
    Image

    Never went to Al's until LTH. Now I know what I've been missing.
    Last edited by incite on August 17th, 2011, 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #13 - July 7th, 2011, 9:45 pm
    Post #13 - July 7th, 2011, 9:45 pm Post #13 - July 7th, 2011, 9:45 pm
    I was in the area today and stopped by Al's for lunch. First time, and won't be the last. I had a special, 1/2 cup French lentil soup, and 1/2 sandwich of a housemade veggie terrine. The veggies were carrot, cauliflower and broccoli. I decided that since I was "good" at lunch that I could reward myself with a cookie. I had 1 and brought 3 more to take home. I thought that there were wonderful. I will be spending more time in Evanston since my doctor's office is moving here, and I have every intention of seeing my doctor more regularly now that I know that Al's is down the street.
  • Post #14 - February 21st, 2012, 2:28 pm
    Post #14 - February 21st, 2012, 2:28 pm Post #14 - February 21st, 2012, 2:28 pm
    I get a sandwich from Al’s for lunch about once a month. Today, as is often the case, I could not resist their roast beef with blue cheese dressing on a baguette.* Is it messy? Probably. Might the raw red onions keep your co-workers away for the rest of the afternoon? Maybe. Is it just an irresistibly delicious and gigantic sandwich with tender, rare roast beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and tangy, salty, somewhat drippy blue cheese dressing? Yes, yes, and yes. Any other questions? Oh, you want to know about the frosted sugar cookies? They are also gigantic and delicious, but I had a paczk waiting for me in my office.



    *You can see stevez's beauty shot of the sandwich here.
  • Post #15 - February 21st, 2012, 4:45 pm
    Post #15 - February 21st, 2012, 4:45 pm Post #15 - February 21st, 2012, 4:45 pm
    Years ago when I worked nearby my go-to sandwich at Al's was the herkimer on pumpernickel. Sure, part of the appeal was the combo of the words herkimer and pumpernickel, but the ingredients were so great and the combo so tasty, that I would have ordered it had the ingredients had less-cool names. Although very much a carnivore, I loved all of their cheese sandwiches. So, yeah, I've offered nothing meaningful to the thread other than a recommendation to eat their cheese sandwiches.
  • Post #16 - February 21st, 2012, 8:38 pm
    Post #16 - February 21st, 2012, 8:38 pm Post #16 - February 21st, 2012, 8:38 pm
    EvA wrote: Today, as is often the case, I could not resist their roast beef with blue cheese dressing on a baguette.* Is it messy? Probably. Might the raw red onions keep your co-workers away for the rest of the afternoon? Maybe. Is it just an irresistibly delicious and gigantic sandwich with tender, rare roast beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and tangy, salty, somewhat drippy blue cheese dressing? Yes, yes, and yes. here.


    I've had that sandwich twice this month, so I must agree.

    I'm a big fan of the soups at this place. They have a light hand with the salt, which may not appeal to some, but to me it allows their fine ingredients to shine through. The soupe au pistou on Mondays is a great way to "eat your vegetables."
  • Post #17 - February 21st, 2012, 10:15 pm
    Post #17 - February 21st, 2012, 10:15 pm Post #17 - February 21st, 2012, 10:15 pm
    Shasson wrote:Years ago when I worked nearby my go-to sandwich at Al's was the herkimer on pumpernickel. Sure, part of the appeal was the combo of the words herkimer and pumpernickel, but the ingredients were so great and the combo so tasty, that I would have ordered it had the ingredients had less-cool names. Although very much a carnivore, I loved all of their cheese sandwiches. So, yeah, I've offered nothing meaningful to the thread other than a recommendation to eat their cheese sandwiches.


    The herkimer and pumpernickel caught my eye because both were favorites of my grandfather who died at the age of 100 in 1976. I've got to get that sandwich and reminisce about grandpa Charlie.
    "Good stuff, Maynard." Dobie Gillis
  • Post #18 - January 15th, 2013, 12:47 pm
    Post #18 - January 15th, 2013, 12:47 pm Post #18 - January 15th, 2013, 12:47 pm
    A quick stop at Al's Deli the other day for a couple of cookies made us very happy. Belgian chocolate with their excellent icing and a chocolate chip. So good. Mr. X's comment was "why don't we go there more often?" I didn't have a good answer to that.
    -Mary
  • Post #19 - January 22nd, 2013, 6:11 pm
    Post #19 - January 22nd, 2013, 6:11 pm Post #19 - January 22nd, 2013, 6:11 pm
    Hello! I'm fairly new to lthforum, but it seems appropriate to post a note on the first thread I've followed here, based on the first bit of advice I've ever received from here. That is, everyone needs to visit Al's Deli! I visited for the first time today. And on this cold, cold Chicago day, I can't imagine anything warmer than a cup of their chili, or more filling than one of their enormous sandwiches. One sandwich was filled with perfectly pink roast beef, covered in a (homemade? was it homemade??) blue cheese dressing. This was sandwiched between the soft, crusty baguette everyone on this thread has made it a point to mention. I also couldn't resist ordering a duck liver pate and brie sandwich, which spilled out of toasted sourdough. I think they may have given me too much pate, it was so generous, so rich... In the end, I had to take my iced butter cookie home - I was so full. But - the revelations don't end here - had I eaten that cookie in the deli, I would have definitely ordered five more. I feel like Shakespeare could have replaced women with these cookies, could have written sonnets about the icing alone. They are so excellent. No one was exaggerating. These cookies will bring you all the comfort you need this winter.

    I am impressed and very grateful. LTH you are right on. Thank you for the recommend!
  • Post #20 - January 22nd, 2013, 6:44 pm
    Post #20 - January 22nd, 2013, 6:44 pm Post #20 - January 22nd, 2013, 6:44 pm
    Thanks for posting, eletters, and welcome to LTH!

    Incidentally, to answer your question...

    eletters wrote:One sandwich was filled with perfectly pink roast beef, covered in a (homemade? was it homemade??) blue cheese dressing.

    I'm quite certain it's homemade. I've never encountered blue cheese dressing like that - with all the hunks of cheese in it - from a package, not from a supermarket and not from food service vendors.

    Also...

    eletters wrote:had I eaten that cookie in the deli, I would have definitely ordered five more.

    Al's Deli has a purchase limit of four of any particular type of cookie. So you can buy four chocolate chip cookies and four iced butter cookies, but you can't buy six iced butter cookies. (And yes, they really are wonderful!)
  • Post #21 - January 29th, 2013, 8:54 pm
    Post #21 - January 29th, 2013, 8:54 pm Post #21 - January 29th, 2013, 8:54 pm
    Thanks for the cookie tip! I did end up going back to Al's later in the week, and restrained myself from ordering more than four. This is just as well, because I have a feeling cookie buying may become a weekly tradition. I should spread out such purchases...
  • Post #22 - September 5th, 2013, 11:13 am
    Post #22 - September 5th, 2013, 11:13 am Post #22 - September 5th, 2013, 11:13 am
    Found out the hard way today that Al's is closed for vacation until September 12th.
  • Post #23 - April 24th, 2020, 11:17 am
    Post #23 - April 24th, 2020, 11:17 am Post #23 - April 24th, 2020, 11:17 am
    A reminder that Al's Deli is open for pick up. We had a craving for a ham and cheese on a baguette last week and they were very happy for the business!
    Edit to add that I just called and one of the brothers isn't feeling well today (Friday April 24) so they're not open today.
    Call ahead to make sure they're there!
  • Post #24 - July 27th, 2020, 8:17 am
    Post #24 - July 27th, 2020, 8:17 am Post #24 - July 27th, 2020, 8:17 am
    Browsing my Facebook feed yesterday, I saw a friend shared a GoFundMe for Al's Deli. Thought I'd post it here in case anyone wanted to support. In the meantime, I need to make a visit up there. I regret not stopping by for cookies when I was in the area on Saturday.

    Support Al's Deli
    -Mary
  • Post #25 - September 18th, 2020, 3:14 pm
    Post #25 - September 18th, 2020, 3:14 pm Post #25 - September 18th, 2020, 3:14 pm
    I just saw somebody post on the Facebook page Support Evanston Restaurants that Al's Deli can use some love. They are still running their GoFundMe page. Perhaps the Evanston group could meet there, and socially distance themselves at the park across the street?
  • Post #26 - September 21st, 2020, 12:58 pm
    Post #26 - September 21st, 2020, 12:58 pm Post #26 - September 21st, 2020, 12:58 pm
    We made a stop at Al's Deli on Saturday. I had the smoked salmon and brie on toasted sourdough. Mr. X had the roast beef with homemade blue cheese dressing on baguette. I added a cup of their delicious cream of tomato soup and two of whatever cookies that were left. (Iced butter and iced spice, I think.) My sandwich was so good. Perfect balance of quality ingredients. Mr. X was pleased with his sandwich as well. Although they seemed to be doing good business, that was deceptive as only five customers are allowed in the store at a time and the indoor seating is not being used.

    Echoing GWiv, Al's Deli, count me a fan!
    -Mary
  • Post #27 - November 9th, 2020, 1:09 pm
    Post #27 - November 9th, 2020, 1:09 pm Post #27 - November 9th, 2020, 1:09 pm
    Socially distant picnic lunch with a friend, BYO lunch. Half a brie/smoked salmon sandwich and a cup of tomato soup hit the spot. I brought home a smoked turkey and aioli on the rosemary olive bread. As much as I like both rosemary and olive, I would have preferred this on their baguette.

    Al's Deli is one of the places I want to see survive this.
    -Mary
  • Post #28 - November 9th, 2020, 2:30 pm
    Post #28 - November 9th, 2020, 2:30 pm Post #28 - November 9th, 2020, 2:30 pm
    The GP wrote:Al's Deli is one of the places I want to see survive this.

    Me too.

    They haven't been busy at all since the pandemic hit. I suspect their business has suffered due to Northwestern not having its full student body on campus. Regardless of cause, there's no need to worry about long waits in line now.

    I was there a couple of months ago and they had a special of a lobster roll, which was very good.

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