Six Jewish Delis in Detroit You Need to Try

By: Aaron B. Cohen | April 2, 2021

Photo courtesy of The Stage Deli.

For generations, Metro Detroit’s Jewish community has contributed mightily to the city’s culinary identity. From mile-high Reubens to matzo ball soup, Detroit boasts some of America’s finest delicatessens. This week, we’re taking a look at iconic Jewish delis of Metro Detroit.

The Stage Deli

When Jack Goldberg opened The Stage Deli in 1962, he did so with the intention of bridging the gap between the corner deli and fine dining. The original Oak Park location was frequented by stars of the day – some of whom would show up following performances at the nearby Northland Playhouse. While today’s West Bloomfield iteration may no longer carry the glitz of those early years, it is nonetheless revered for its traditional Jewish appetizing (chopped liver, lox, smoked whitefish, herring, etc.), full breakfast menu, massive pastrami sandwiches and chef-crafted dinner entrees.

Stage gets the nod from Seoung Lee (A.K.A. @chowdowndetroit) and my Bubbie. You can guess who is the tougher critic.

Steve’s Deli

Steve’s is a deli for deli-lovers. We’re talking salamis hanging from the ceiling behind the register. Coolers stocked full of Dr. Brown’s cream soda. Checkerboard floor tiling and bright red booths. It’s the kind of place that you know is going to be good as soon as you walk in the door. Except you might not even get that far before hitting the line – yet another indication.

Steve’s covers all the bases in terms of the traditional fare. Cold cuts, smoked fish, legendary kosher dogs – if you’ve never had a Jewish deli hotdog in Detroit, you ought to address that. All dogs are not created equal. Get one at the restaurant, or get something else and take a few (uncooked) home for the grill. You’ll be king of the Sunday night BBQ forevermore. 

Star Deli

On the south side of 12 Mile, just west of Telegraph, Star Deli cranks out the classics seven days a week, 365 days a year. 40 years of takeout-only has made this Southfield favorite an obvious choice for those craving corned beef, swiss, coleslaw and Russian on rye during these unprecedented times.

Along with sandwiches, you can get your matzo ball soup fix, hot blintz and old-school rugelach for dessert. Everything you want without the wait.

Hygrade Deli

Since 1955, Hygrade Deli has prided itself on serving what – to many – is the best corned beef in Detroit. Located on Michigan Ave. on the outer limits of Corktown, Hygrade’s “Meal in a Sandwich” packs several inches of cold cuts between bread. From the outset, one may be intimidated by the sheer magnitude of the sandwich, but after a few bites it becomes clear that you’ll want to see the journey to its completion.

If it’s too early for that, go for the corned beef hash and eggs. No reason to forgo the star of the menu because it’s not lunchtime yet.

Bread Basket Deli

With nine locations throughout Metro Detroit, Bread Basket Deli (A.K.A. Al’s Famous Deli) has introduced entire communities to the magic of this storied cuisine. Cold cuts, 4-decker sandwiches and premium salads comprise a menu that is spreading rapidly throughout the region. With full catering options available, it’s the perfect platter for your next family gathering or the big game. 

New York Bagel

New Yorkers are quick to dismiss bagels outside of their city, but Detroiters know our own New York Bagel can complete with the best. You have to get there early, because even if they aren’t sold out, there’s nothing like a bagel fresh out of the oven. No need to toast it if it’s already piping hot.

If you’re on a mission for the real deal, go straight for the lox sandwich. Choose your bagel, your schmeer (cream cheese) and watch as the magician behind the counter applies layers of cold-smoked salmon, tomato, onion and capers. Once you experience that smokey, salty goodness, you’ll crave it all. The. Time.