Manny’s Coffee Shop & Deli | Corned Beef Chicago-Style
Review by: Michael Stern
Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Good Old Chicago
You will find Manny’s Coffee Shop and Deli at the edge of Chicago’s loop. It’s not too far from where the everything-goes bazaar known as Maxwell Street once thrived and where Chicago blues were born. Maxwell Street became a housing development. But the restaurant Manny Raskin opened just after World War II endures. Its big, old-Chicago personality lures cops and wise guys, politicians and business people, and cured-meat lovers from the distant suburbs. A great number of them come for corned beef, Chicago-style.
Corned Beef, Chicago-Style
“Step around for corned beef!” calls Ken Raskin, Manny’s son, to customers who crowd through the line at lunch hour. “Step around for sandwiches and latkes.”
Sandwiches of corned beef, Chicago-style, put Manny’s on the map. Gino Gambarota, Manny’s corned beef man for as long as anyone can remember, will cut the meat the way you like it — lean, fatty, or regular. But he will not cut it thick. “The art of cutting corned beef is to cut it as thin as possible, and against the grain,” Gino says. His slices are shaved so thin they verge on disintegration; but they stay intact and miraculously succulent. That’s corned beef, Chicago-style.
Gino stuffs handfuls of this magnificent meat into sandwiches so large that many customers eat one half and take the other back to the office. When a diminutive woman in a business suit asks Gino if he can make her only half a sandwich, he sasses back, “Lady, this isn’t Highland Park!” (Highland Park is a hoity-toity suburb on the North Shore.) During busy mealtimes Gino sets up four or five ready-made sandwiches with a potato pancake on the plate. That way, customers in a hurry can bypass hot food at the beginning of the cafeteria line. No prepared sandwich remains on the counter longer than forty-five seconds.
There is a huge menu beyond corned beef, including daily specials by which many Chicagoans arrange their culinary week. Monday, count on Lake Superior whitefish, beef brisket, and noodle kugel. Come Friday and you can choose from among gefilte fish, fried smelts, and salisbury steak. Oxtail stew aficionados have made Thursday their red-letter day for ox tail stew. If that’s what you want, come early. The kitchen makes only a limited amount. It can sell out by noon.
Directions & Hours
- Monday: 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM
- Tuesday: 9:30 AM – 8:00 PM
- Wednesday: 9:30 AM – 8:00 PM
- Thursday: 9:30 AM – 8:00 PM
- Friday: 9:30 AM – 8:00 PM
- Saturday: 9:30 AM – 8:00 PM
- Sunday: 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|