There’s nostalgic charm about this 1946 deli that transcends its comfort-food repertoire of soups and sandwiches. It won’t dazzle you with anything it serves (except maybe for some of its pastries), but if you’re a person for whom unfashionable food can conjure up a simpler, happier time — real or fantasized — Sunshine Bakery’s house-made soups can put you on Cloud 9.
The repertoire of daily specials is constant: potato soup Monday and Thursday, split pea Tuesday, bean Wednesday, barley bean Friday, lentil Saturday. They’re thick, gentle tempered medleys, without pyrotechnics, but with well-balanced satisfaction in every spoonful. Long-time devotees all have their favorite and plan visits accordingly.
Sandwiches are billed as “New York deli style”; and while the list of ingredients does echo the brash stacks of meats and cheeses that define old-school Manhattan, these Reubens, triple-deckers, and multi-meat pile-ups are of a kinder, gentler mien. House-baked sourdough rye, a signature for decades, is soft and easy to chew: no thick, glossy crust; no dense, super-sour crumb.
Likewise, what’s called a Rhubun roll is dark and formidable in appearance, but turns out to be a pussycat that is slightly sweet and cloud-soft. It is the foundation for a jolly, old-style lunch-counter creation known as the Dutch Reuben: turkey, sliced egg, muenster cheese, and 1209 dressing (similar to 1000 Islands).
Cold cuts and hot cured meats in Sunshine sandwiches are neat and tidy, less like the fatty, lascivious ingredients of a vintage delicatessen and more like quality meats from the deli counter in a supermarket: evenly sliced, quietly spiced. The Reuben, which of course includes corned beef and sauerkraut, also features salami. It’s a curious addition, but these are not muscular, garlic-charged slices of long-fermented salami; they’re nearly as balmy as pink bologna.
Pastries are a big deal in this place: eclairs, Napoleons, brownies, cookies, baklava, lemon bars, Danishes, and muffins. Featured attraction is known as the Josephine: a fluffy-textured cinnamon roll filled with custard and topped with chocolate ganache and slivered almonds.
In true deli style, Dr. Brown sodas are available to drink, but no meal at the Sunshine Bakery is complete without Sunshine Tea. It’s a mix of sweet tea and lemonade that the menu speculates was the inspiration for what’s now universally known as an Arnold Palmer.