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Burt's Deli - Libertyville

Burt's Deli - Libertyville
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  • Burt's Deli - Libertyville

    Post #1 - December 12th, 2004, 10:54 pm
    Post #1 - December 12th, 2004, 10:54 pm Post #1 - December 12th, 2004, 10:54 pm
    Saturday afternoon, I was in Libertyville heading south on Milwaukee Avenue looking for lunch. I was contemplating driving to Lincolnshire to revisit a Mexican place on Milwaukee just south of Route 22. This little Mexican place was one of the first taquerias I ever visited. I just wondered what my impressions would be today; assuming same ownership and quality. The couple I know who live in the immediate area often come to Highland Park for Mexican at Los Mojotes, so I reasoned this Mexican place may not very good. I then allowed myself to look for something else and perhaps by default I may arrive to this Mexican place anyway.

    In Green Tree Plaza behind Baker's Square, I passed the Chinese buffet which is quite good though maybe a bit far for Octarine. On their weekend evening buffets, the only time I have been there, they have salt and pepper shrimp, all you can eat snow crabs legs, recently blue crabs cut in half and fried, flounder which is variously fried or steamed. Unlike a lot of Chinese buffets, you see a fair share of Asian people at this one. For what it is, it is a better than average example.

    I didn't think to stop at the Chinese Buffet because it is almost a license to overeat. I was certainly hungry, but I didn't want to give in to my weaker self.

    I did give a quick glance to the marquee directory from Green Tree to see a business I was unaware of: Burt's Deli. I then quickly looked around this strip mall, which hasn't seen the best of times since their anchor grocery store departed some years ago. I decided to circle back to at least look for this deli. I quickly discovered there is a row of shops which do not face Milwaukee AVenue where I found Burt's.

    Burt's Deli has been at this location since Green Tree Plaza opened in 1975. It is a small deli with the basic assortments of Jewish deli meats coming from an assortment of vendors, salads, homemade soups and a single barrel of fresh pickles. Half of the shop is the deli counter, the other half is a seating area for those who want to eat-in. There is no table service, you order at the counter, collect your food, pay and sit down.

    New to the place, I carefully read all the available food options, I checked out the baked goods (they had black and whites) and scanned the meats. I wasn't particularly intrigued until I checked out the pastrami order being arranged for another customer. This was a relatively thin piece of pastrami, sized like a strip of bacon, which has the benefits of a high spicey surface area to interior meat. It was also the fattiest pastrami I had seen sliced in a commercial place in a long time. There were bits of fat where I could place a dime on it and there would be a white halo of fat surrounding it. I have certainly read enough about people complaining their lean corned beef had no flavor, I just had to have a shot of the pastrami.

    While waiting to place my order, I was making conversation with the woman serving the customer. I inquired where they got their pastrami from, the womans head shot up, "From the city." "Oh, from which vendor?" "Ralphie, this lady wants to know where you buy the pastrami." Ralphie's antenna goes zipping up, "From the city. Why?" I really thought I was just making conversation, though I could see they thought I was an industrial spy. I backed off deciding my curiosity wasn't all that important.

    I ordered a hot pastrami on rye with (Koop's) horseradish and mustard sauce with extra pickles on the side. They grabbed a handful of pastrami and zapped it in the microwave. I later read, they prefer to eyeball portions rather than weigh, which is fine as long as they are generous. I loudly admired their pickles and received more than my fair share of extra pickle. I paid $7.14 for my sandwich, generous pickle and a Dr. Pepper, then sat down to eat.

    I don't know if it was my hunger or the warm fat, this was a really good tasting pastrami sandwich. Garlicky pastrami flavor bursting with every bite alternating with the fresh pickle. I didn't want to ask the boogie man question again, though I did want to know where they obtained their pastrami. On my departure, I ever more carefully reviewed their meats to find a vacuum pack of corned beef labeled (Kelly) Eisenberg (of Chicago).

    I am quite used to the Vienna product, this might be the first time I have knowingly encountered an Eisenberg product. I also know from prior posts of Evil Ronnie there is quite a selection of cuts and grades of product professionals can choose from, which are beyond consumer's reach for home consumption. I really liked this fatty narrow pastrami, though I am glad to live a slightly inconvenient 10 miles away.

    ("Fill your belli" at )Burt's Deli
    Green Tree Plaza (on Milwaukee Avenue between 22 and 176)
    114 Green Tree Parkway
    Libertyville
    Tel: 847/367-9687

    Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9-5, Close Sunday
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #2 - December 13th, 2004, 11:35 am
    Post #2 - December 13th, 2004, 11:35 am Post #2 - December 13th, 2004, 11:35 am
    Cathy,

    Thanks for the heads up. I've lived not far from Burt's for 9 years and never knew it was there. To make it more embarrassing, my oldest daughter switched dance academy's to one in this plaza last September. I will have to look for it this week.

    BTW, there is a so-so taqueria in Libertyville, on Milwaukee a few blocks south of Rt 176, called Del Rey. Not as good as El Norte, but OK once in a while.

    Best,
    Al
  • Post #3 - December 13th, 2004, 11:49 am
    Post #3 - December 13th, 2004, 11:49 am Post #3 - December 13th, 2004, 11:49 am
    I believe Eisenberg deli meats are also available at Eppy's Deli in Streeterville. I've found their sandwiches passable, I guess, but nothing special.

    Cheers,

    Aaron
  • Post #4 - December 13th, 2004, 12:13 pm
    Post #4 - December 13th, 2004, 12:13 pm Post #4 - December 13th, 2004, 12:13 pm
    Aaron,

    Gary has mentioned in a previous post, that Jake's in Milwaukee uses Kelly and Eisenberg. I've never been to Jake's, but it seems to have quite a few fans.

    As Evil and Gary have mentioned before, there are various grades of products from each producer. Maybe that accounts for the poor quality at Eppy's.

    Best,
    Al
  • Post #5 - December 13th, 2004, 1:24 pm
    Post #5 - December 13th, 2004, 1:24 pm Post #5 - December 13th, 2004, 1:24 pm
    Al Ehrhardt wrote:Gary has mentioned in a previous post, that Jake's in Milwaukee uses Kelly and Eisenberg. I've never been to Jake's, but it seems to have quite a few fans.


    Yeah, I don't mean to slight Eisenberg's, nor do I mean to pass myself off as an expert on pastrami or corned beef sandwiches or producers. I like 'em, but they register fairly low on my radar. Just wanted to point out another purveyor of the Kelly-Eisenberg product. And Eppy's really isn't that bad, I guess. Thanks for noting Jake's in Milwaukee, as that had slipped my mind. I'd return to Eppy's, certainly, if I went out for sandwiches more often and it was a little closer to my office. I'll probably return anyway.

    Cheers,

    Aaron
  • Post #6 - December 13th, 2004, 9:16 pm
    Post #6 - December 13th, 2004, 9:16 pm Post #6 - December 13th, 2004, 9:16 pm
    As an east coast expatriate (New Joisey) and a recent resident of Libertyville, finding Burt's has been a godsend! They serve the best pastrami and corned beef sandwiches west of the Hudson River. The portions are not Manhattanesque, but then neither are the prices. BTW: their chicken liver schmeer ain't too shabby either. Discovering gems like Burt's, Tripoli Meats on 137 (excellant USDA Prime) and Firkin on Milwaukee (great draft beer menu and even better bartenders! ) reassures me that there is more to life north of Lake Cook Road than dodging monster SUVs on the way to Sunset Foods. Now if only some Messiah would arrive on the scene with New York Pizza... Sorry, I was dreaming again.
    jb
  • Post #7 - December 13th, 2004, 9:39 pm
    Post #7 - December 13th, 2004, 9:39 pm Post #7 - December 13th, 2004, 9:39 pm
    C2,I am trying to place the plaza.Is it on the west side of Milwaukee?IIRC the grocery store was Frank's and it said either Certified Grocers or Centrella?
  • Post #8 - December 13th, 2004, 10:44 pm
    Post #8 - December 13th, 2004, 10:44 pm Post #8 - December 13th, 2004, 10:44 pm
    hattyn wrote:C2,I am trying to place the plaza.Is it on the west side of Milwaukee?IIRC the grocery store was Frank's and it said either Certified Grocers or Centrella?


    Hattyn,

    You are correct. West side of Milwaukee. The former grocery store was a Certified/Centrella store called Franklin Foods. It has been closed about 5 or 6 years.

    Al
  • Post #9 - December 13th, 2004, 10:47 pm
    Post #9 - December 13th, 2004, 10:47 pm Post #9 - December 13th, 2004, 10:47 pm
    Thanks.I did not realize it had been that long.
  • Post #10 - December 14th, 2004, 11:10 am
    Post #10 - December 14th, 2004, 11:10 am Post #10 - December 14th, 2004, 11:10 am
    john@thebar, if you find any good pizza in central Lake County, let us know!
    The Firkin is certainly a favorite destination.
  • Post #11 - December 14th, 2004, 5:18 pm
    Post #11 - December 14th, 2004, 5:18 pm Post #11 - December 14th, 2004, 5:18 pm
    Would anyone know if this restaurant is the "new" location of the Burt's Deli that used to be at California and Foster in the city?

    I believe the owner's name was Burt Kozak-----In the 60's and early 70's he had a thriving place at California/Foster, and then the restaurant changed hands. Anyone????
  • Post #12 - June 12th, 2005, 11:04 pm
    Post #12 - June 12th, 2005, 11:04 pm Post #12 - June 12th, 2005, 11:04 pm
    Hi,

    On Saturday I found myself up in Libertyville for lunch. I returned to Burt's Deli to find out if my first impressions were still true. Instead of ordering a simple pastrami sandwich, I ordered the house special called the 'Yummy.' I must admit to a wee bit of prejudice here, I am always suspect of the word 'yummy' until I have tried it myself.

    Yummy in the world of Burt is a corned beef and pastrami sandwich with cheese (obviously NOT kosher), horseradish sauce and mustard on rye bread. Pretty darn good in the Meg Ryan deli scene in 'Harry Met Sally' kind of way:

    Image

    Was it Yummy?

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    *The orgasm scene was filmed at Katz's Deli on New York's E. Houston Street. The table where the scene was filmed now has a plaque on it: "Congratulations! You're sitting where Harry met Sally."
  • Post #13 - October 19th, 2006, 3:28 pm
    Post #13 - October 19th, 2006, 3:28 pm Post #13 - October 19th, 2006, 3:28 pm
    Stopped in for a corned beef and a Green River at Burt's this afternoon. There was a sign on the wall near my table entitled "Fat Boy's Red Hots." In talking with Ralph, I discovered that Burt was the original owner of Fat Boys(4702 N. Kedzie), one of my early hot dog haunts, along with Lerner's and the Ranch on Devon.
  • Post #14 - October 19th, 2006, 6:55 pm
    Post #14 - October 19th, 2006, 6:55 pm Post #14 - October 19th, 2006, 6:55 pm
    chicagostyledog wrote:Stopped in for a corned beef and a Green River at Burt's this afternoon. There was a sign on the wall near my table entitled "Fat Boy's Red Hots." In talking with Ralph, I discovered that Burt was the original owner of Fat Boys(4702 N. Kedzie), one of my early hot dog haunts, along with Lerner's and the Ranch on Devon.


    Are the Fat Boys dogs similar in style to my beloved Lerners dogs? RIP
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #15 - October 19th, 2006, 8:58 pm
    Post #15 - October 19th, 2006, 8:58 pm Post #15 - October 19th, 2006, 8:58 pm
    Steve, going back all those years, my memory of Fat Boy's, Lerner's, and the Ranch were all natural casing dogs. The Ranch served Vienna Beef and so did Superdawg. I think Lerner's had or made their own brand dog. I could be wrong. During their last years, they sold Red Hot Chicago. In the 60's, I enjoyed hot dogs with mustard and a side of fries, wrapped in waxed paper, placed in a greasy, paper bag.
  • Post #16 - October 19th, 2006, 10:53 pm
    Post #16 - October 19th, 2006, 10:53 pm Post #16 - October 19th, 2006, 10:53 pm
    CSD,

    Did you like Burt's sandwich?

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #17 - October 20th, 2006, 7:02 am
    Post #17 - October 20th, 2006, 7:02 am Post #17 - October 20th, 2006, 7:02 am
    Cathy, it was very good. I've been a customer of Burt's since they opened their doors. It was the closest and only place to buy good corned beef, pastrami, and lox and bagels in the Libertyville/Vernon Hills area thirty years ago. Burt always supplied our holiday meat trays. Ralph serves a nice, hot, lean, machine cut, corned beef sandwich on a fresh, light or dark rye with a kosher dill pickle. While lean corned beef can be dry, Burt's is always hot and moist. Burt's sells Dr. Brown's and Green River. In the early days, they had Kayo. Since moving to Wisconsin, I'm accustomed to the thicker, fattier, hand cut corned beef from Jake's and Benji's in Milwaukee. Burt's thin cut corned beef takes me back to my childhood days of the corned beef that was served at the original Sam & Hy's on Roosevelt & Keeler.
    Last edited by chicagostyledog on September 15th, 2009, 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #18 - October 20th, 2006, 9:47 am
    Post #18 - October 20th, 2006, 9:47 am Post #18 - October 20th, 2006, 9:47 am
    >Did you like Burt's sandwich?

    I went there twice (about 10 years ago) and on both occasions there were several ‘regulars’, I assume, smoking up a storm. I just couldn’t take it.

    On my last visit I mentioned it to whoever was working the counter and he told me it was a nice day, I could eat my sandwich outside. I have not been back since.

    Just my $.02.

    R.
  • Post #19 - October 21st, 2006, 5:03 am
    Post #19 - October 21st, 2006, 5:03 am Post #19 - October 21st, 2006, 5:03 am
    dodger wrote:I went there twice (about 10 years ago) and on both occasions there were several ‘regulars’, I assume, smoking up a storm. I just couldn’t take it.

    I believe that Libertyville has now banned smoking.
  • Post #20 - October 23rd, 2006, 9:23 am
    Post #20 - October 23rd, 2006, 9:23 am Post #20 - October 23rd, 2006, 9:23 am
    >I believe that Libertyville has now banned smoking.

    I think it was banned back then too. But these were regulars or friends of someone who looked like the owner as he went back and forth behind the counter while he visited with them. The other guy working there made my sandwich.
  • Post #21 - October 27th, 2006, 9:40 pm
    Post #21 - October 27th, 2006, 9:40 pm Post #21 - October 27th, 2006, 9:40 pm
    Since Burt's is a lunch only establishment, and I work in Northbrook, I don't get there as often as I would like. But when I do, the pastrami is always excellent.

    Best,
    Al
  • Post #22 - October 28th, 2006, 1:48 pm
    Post #22 - October 28th, 2006, 1:48 pm Post #22 - October 28th, 2006, 1:48 pm
    I had a yummy at Burts last week. It was excellent. When I said that I wanted it as advertised, with mustard and horseradish, the counterman thanked me for having it the way it is supposed to be. The previous woman had ordered 3 to go on buttered bread. The tomato basil soup was disappointing though, it tasted like campbells with some basil added.

    -Will
  • Post #23 - October 28th, 2006, 7:57 pm
    Post #23 - October 28th, 2006, 7:57 pm Post #23 - October 28th, 2006, 7:57 pm
    I stopped by Burt's Deli for the first time today and really enjoyed it. I got a cold roast beef sandwich for Sweet Baboo, a hot corned beef sandwich for myself, and some liverwurst (what my dad used to call "avenger sausage") to take home. The gentleman who waited on me was quick to tell me it was Usinger's liverwurst, from Milwaukee. He also gave me a taste of the hot corned beef while I was trying to decide what I wanted, and a pickle slice as well.

    I also wanted to take home some of the smoked salmon, egg salad, chicken salad, and tuna salad*, but decided to pace myself.

    There were about a half a dozen people eating in, but no one smoking. Everyone was very friendly.

    We ate the sandwiches at home -- each one had a lot of meat in it, and came with three pickle slices. I've lived in the area for six years: I wish I'd known about Burt's all this time. Can't wait to send emails to all the sibs to let them know to check it out next time they're in town.

    *some people apparently just don't like tuna salad, and I just don't understand those people.
  • Post #24 - October 29th, 2006, 1:00 am
    Post #24 - October 29th, 2006, 1:00 am Post #24 - October 29th, 2006, 1:00 am
    chicagostyledog wrote:Stopped in for a corned beef and a Green River at Burt's this afternoon. There was a sign on the wall near my table entitled "Fat Boy's Red Hots." In talking with Ralph, I discovered that Burt was the original owner of Fat Boys(4702 N. Kedzie), one of my early hot dog haunts, along with Lerner's and the Ranch on Devon.


    For me to see a reference to Fat Boy's is kind of amazing. It's an icon of Chicago diners for me, and played a small, but significant part in my early coming-of-age efforts in the city. I never expected anyone else to ever refer to it here in LTH-land, though; it's a real "blast from the past."

    When I was a boy, Fat Boy's on Kedzie was around the corner from the apartment where my family lived on the 3200 block of Leland. I'd walk past its bright windows and attractive fried food smells on the way to & from school. That's why it was the place I chose to have my first solo "restaurant" experiences, somewhere around the age of 10 or 11. What I desired at Fat Boy's--aside from what all kids that age always want, i.e., food--was to be regarded not as just a little kid who should be attached to his parent, but as a Customer all on my own. It was a stage to perform a rite of passage, whereby I'd demonstrate my eligibility to be admitted to the company of adults as an equal--more or less. And get good stuff to eat!

    I recall sitting at the counter, ill at ease, while other much older guys sat around me, comfortably ordering mysterious items from the menu, drinking coffee and smoking, sometimes bantering with the counterman. I don't remember exactly what I asked for, probably something easy like a hamburger and a Coke. I do remember wondering about the Hot Tamales I saw while I waited for my food--they seemed really exotic, but didn't strike me as particularly appetizing--steamy hot, sour-spicy-smelling, and wrapped in orange-stained greasy paper....

    For my first couple of times there, I would just keep my head down, try not to attract any negative attention ("Where's yer Ma, kid?"), and correctly play my role of customer: order, eat, pay, and exit. Come to think of it, I probably had to prove solvency by paying before I was served. I didn't really understand about tipping, yet...I saw that people left coins on the counter, but I couldn't see how much or figure out how they decided what to leave behind.

    I guess it worked. I was completely ignored by the other patrons, but I felt encouraged-enough to come back. And of course, I'd also successfully gotten some food!

    It was probably the third time I was in there that I tried to start a conversation with the counterman, in order to develop a sort of connection/familiarity with him like he'd shown with some of the other customers. A heavyset guy with acne in a stained white apron, he had a paper hat squashed down over his oiled hair, and was maybe 18 or 19. He was the only one I ever saw behind the counter, and as far as I knew, he could have been the eponymous owner of the place.

    When he set my order in front of me, I played my opening conversational gambit. I looked up at him and innocently asked, "Are you 'Fat Boy'?" He gave me an angry look and snapped, "No!" before turning his back to me and quickly moving down to the other end of the counter, while a couple of guys laughed for some reason. Confused and embarrassed, I shrank down on my stool, and concentrated on finishing my burger and leaving quickly. That was both the first and the last "conversation" I ever had there, since I was too scared afterward to go back in again. So much for relaxed cameraderie and being one of the guys!

    Thanks for helping resurrect the (bittersweet) memory of a moment in a city kid's efforts to grow up in Albany Park, Chicago, sometime ago....

    --Matt LaSaine
    "If I have dined better than other men, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants...and got the waiter's attention." --Sir Isaac "Ready to order NOW" Newton

    "You worry too much. Eat some bacon... What? No, I got no idea if it'll make you feel better, I just made too much bacon." --Justin Halpern's dad
  • Post #25 - December 7th, 2006, 10:55 am
    Post #25 - December 7th, 2006, 10:55 am Post #25 - December 7th, 2006, 10:55 am
    I eat here all the time too ... by the way, I'm going there for lunch ... I never knew what a "yummy" was ... now that I know - that's what I'm going to get. Ralphie is a great and funny guy ... I love the atmosphere there. The regulars are always there ... they just got FROZEN BANANAS!! OMG ... they are the perfect treat after one of Ralphie's sandwiches!!

    ... [salivates]
  • Post #26 - December 7th, 2006, 11:09 am
    Post #26 - December 7th, 2006, 11:09 am Post #26 - December 7th, 2006, 11:09 am
    I guess I'll be joining sailordragonball to get lunch at Burt's Deli.
    Always good food.
    J.T. Schrader
  • Post #27 - April 2nd, 2007, 7:33 pm
    Post #27 - April 2nd, 2007, 7:33 pm Post #27 - April 2nd, 2007, 7:33 pm
    Went to Burt's deli today and got the pastrami sandwich with heavy applications of mustard and horseradish. I assume it is Burt who is making the sandwiches. He reminds me of Hot Doug; really friendly and always excited about what I'm ordering and whether I order the sandwich the way it's supposed to be. He beams when I ask for the horseradish! I like that. There are so many other things that look interesting too. And then there's the combinations. I could eat there for a couple of months and have a different thing every day.
    "Good stuff, Maynard." Dobie Gillis
  • Post #28 - April 2nd, 2007, 9:55 pm
    Post #28 - April 2nd, 2007, 9:55 pm Post #28 - April 2nd, 2007, 9:55 pm
    HI,

    It is my understanding the namesake Burt died long ago. You very likely encountered his son Ralphie who took up the reins years ago after his Father's sudden death.

    I agree it is a very friendly place.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #29 - April 3rd, 2007, 9:09 am
    Post #29 - April 3rd, 2007, 9:09 am Post #29 - April 3rd, 2007, 9:09 am
    I deli-clerk's name, (last time I was there of course) is Fred. I'm not 100% certain, but very close (95%).
    J.T. Schrader
  • Post #30 - April 3rd, 2007, 9:35 am
    Post #30 - April 3rd, 2007, 9:35 am Post #30 - April 3rd, 2007, 9:35 am
    Hi,

    I base my recollection on my OP above. You may be right, though I know how the owner was addressed when I was there. Maybe we need to visit real soon to check! :D

    Regards,

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