Zelda’s Corner is a deli that wouldn’t feel out of place in a New England University town. The menu contains references to the Northeast and makes use of maple syrup in several sandwiches, also offering maple-bacon mini-donuts. Zelda’s specializes in clever sandwiches, most of which are created with Boar’s Head turkey cuts.
The centerpiece of the deli counter is a Rube Goldberg mini donut machine, the type you’d find at a state fair stall. It’s an immediate eye-catcher, and the smell of fried-to-order donuts is irresistible. As good as Zelda’s sandwiches are, the little pop-em sized cake donuts are the main event — an unmissable attraction for visitors to Venice Beach. They come out of the fryer hot and dark brown, slightly crisp on the outside and custardy in the middle. You can get a few different glazes or powdered sugar, but we like them with cinnamon sugar, which lends well to snacking from a little paper pouch. Good advice: Get more than you think you’ll want. Once they cool and the cake sets, they remain tasty all day. You will miss them when they’re gone.
The sandwiches are memorable as well. The most popular is called Breakfast in Bread. It is a full-meal breakfast sandwich that layers two peppery fried eggs (yoke medium) with crisp bacon, cheddar, and avocado. It is seasoned with garlicky hot sauce and maple syrup and served on half an artisan baguette with good chew. The sweet-hot-tangy combination of sauces is odd at first, but a few bites in, it makes sense. You’ll never want a breakfast sandwich any other way. Ketchup? No thank you; never again.
The Mr. Electric sandwich is another favorite. It is turkey, avocado, crisped prosciutto, aged provolone, arugula, and red ripe tomatoes. It comes on a baguette, but you can get it on thick-sliced sourdough if you prefer. We tried a turkey Reuben on this soft sourdough, and whereas turkey Reubens mostly are boring sandwiches that taste like a dieter’s compromise, this one is something better. Zelda’s twist is to add tangy-sweet cranberry sauerkraut — a great example of how one clever ingredient can really make a sandwich superb.
We got a little worried when we saw our assembled sandwiches getting slid into panini presses. Too often, this handling can flatten the elegance right out of your lunch. But Zelda’s doesn’t so much press the sandwiches as give them a gentle toast just before serving. The light touch leaves perfect toasty stripes on the bread.