Started by Cecil and Faye Glickman in 1949, Cecil’s is now run by the duo’s offspring, but not much else has changed. When you step inside, you’ll be in the deli portion, complete with black-and-white tile floors, rows of Jewish pantry staples, and a deli counter with baked goods, egg and potato salads, coleslaw, and meats. Fresh bread behind the counter goes fast.
Walk farther in to get to the hostess stand, which faces toward the back of the restaurant and dining room. Here, you can order sandwiches to go or ask for a table in the back.
The menu has all the standby favorites, including an entire section devoted to Reubens, which made my heart sing. I went with the spicy Reuben on grilled dark rye with spicy mustard and pepper cheese. The pastrami was thin and flavorful, amply layered under tangy sauerkraut and sandwiched between the dark rye, which was, of course, baked in house.
The new Malka sandwich has thinly-sliced smoked turkey and mild horseradish sauce, which I could have used more of. A hint of sweet comes through with the sweet and sour slaw, and two slices of fresh caraway rye hold everything together.
The Sasha was a big hit: hot brisket pastrami, Swiss cheese, and a fried egg, smothered together with Cecil’s famous “bird sauce,” which has been around for over 40 years. It is creamy with hints of mustard: Combined with the gooey yolk of the fried egg, it tastes a bit like lunch, a bit like breakfast. A brunch sandwich, you might say.
The latkes are huge, with a ton of onion and pepper, served with thick sour cream and a light applesauce. Soft, with crispy edges and just salty enough, these are a must-order no matter when you visit. Packed with vegetables, the borscht is more sweet than sour, and has a thick consistency. Sides are good, and on the smaller side.
Cecil’s is one of those neighborhood delis everyone wants nearby. The staff is friendly but no-nonsense; the food is fresh, consistent, and delicious; and you can take most of it home with you. It hits the spot any time of day.