Review by: Michael Stern

Jake’s corned beef is rapturously luscious (unless you ask for extra lean). One reason it’s special is that each hunk of brisket is sprinkled with paprika just before getting sliced, but the depth of flavor mainly comes from the fact that a dozen or more briskets are boiled together, their pot becoming a slurry of spice and beef flavor that re-insinuates itself into the fibers of the meat. Slices come medium-thick and they are piled into slick-crusted, Milwaukee-made Miller bakery seeded rye: not an outrageously huge sandwich like you might get in Chicago or New York, but in no way skimpy, either. We see the meat-to-bread ratio as perfect.

There are other items on Jake’s menu: pastrami, turkey pastrami, hard salami, hot dogs, soups-like-mama-should-have-made, even grilled chicken and a tuna melt, as well as a superb Reuben with sauerkraut and cheese.

Jake’s has been around since 1935, when the neighborhood was mostly Jewish. Original proprietor Reuben Cohen sold it to Jake, who sold it to Irv Kassoff, whose son Michael ran it until 2009, when Gary Plassmeyer took over. The place is a virtual museum set: the mid-20th century urban deli with walls a faded pale yellow, tables topped with worn linoleum, ancient wooden booths outfitted with out-of-order buzzers once used to summon service.

Note: Jake’s has locations in the food courts of the Southridge Mall and the Grand Avenue Mall.

What To Eat

Corned Beef Sandwich


Matzoh Ball Soup



Jake’s Recipes


What do you think of Jake’s?

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By Jane and Michael Stern Originally Published 1994 Gourmet Magazine The summers of youth hold a privileged place in memory. For many of us raised along the Great Lakes...


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