Cuisine: American, sandwiches
How Much You’ll Shell Out For 3 courses (for two): Under $50
Downtown State College has its charms, and it also has its quirks (indefinitely), including, ultimately, its isolation from the majority of the area’s restaurants. Also, a number of its clientele don’t have alternative transportation from a bus, and so dinner out on Atherton is usually reserved for special occasions.
Luckily, we have The Deli, a restaurant so conveniently connected to the Z-Bar (if you’re old enough to enjoy). The Deli is most noted for its sandwiches, but it really does have a taste for every palate, and can be the place for a casual bite or a little more refined anniversary dinner.
For me and my guest, it was more casual. I had to admit I’d only been to the deli once before, and I’d gotten something small—french onion soup, maybe—though I remember it positively. I’d walked in already expecting something good.
My guest hadn’t been there before at all, which was fun because we had a lot of room to explore without the biased dish agreeable to one’s specific palate. Walking in, you’ll first sense the warm hum of a relaxed crowd, not ever too busy around 6 p.m., though beware of later hours, especially on weekends. The place is big, but cozy—no weird spaces—with roomy booths and a platform on which you can sit close to the bar at just as roomy tables and watch the game. The music playing is just low enough that you can speak to the person across from you without having to strain, and that’s great considering we’re in a tiny town crammed with over 40 thousand people.
We dove into the menu, first scouting a suitable appetizer. We flipped to the back of the menu after having not found any immediate starter choices and both opted for the flavored tea of the day, which was mango ($). We were greeted by our server, who was immediately helpful in choosing our app, the buffalo chicken dip ($8), which was the first thing she suggested. We couldn’t really argue with that. It seemed safe.
All in one go we decided to order our mains a well. My guest knew immediately what she wanted since we’d quickly glanced at the menu outside the restaurant. She went for the turkey burger ($9), snug in a whole grain bun with low-fat sour cream—and, of course, french fries. Healthy but also tempting.
I asked our server what she suggested, and at first she asked me if I liked Reubens. I admitted I didn’t like them, and I didn’t want my fussy taste buds to lead you astray, so her next choice for me was the turkey bacon grinder ($11), a large portion of their fresh-shaved turkey meat on an amoroso roll with melted provolone, mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, and balsamic vinaigrette, served with house-made chips and a pickle.
We received our teas and were overall pleased. The tea was mild and pleasant—a good way to start the meal.
Shortly after, we got the dip, and were surprised. We both agreed that the dip was much thicker than what we were used to, and that proved to be difficult when we scooped it up with fluffed pita triangles, but it was tasty, nonetheless. We couldn’t say we went wrong, but we were left wondering about some of the other starter options.
In seemingly no time after we finished the last bites of our dip we got our large mains. My guest’s turkey burger was nothing short of massive, and our server apologized for the abnormal portion. If that was our biggest problem here, we will have had an extremely successful meal.
Her fries were still slightly scalding, but were crispy and well-salted. The burger dripped its heavenly juices as she bit in, and she concluded it was fantastic.
My sub was also massive—so massive I had to cut it in half just to tackle it. In one bite I was still somehow able to fit in the turkey, cheese, onions, tomato, lettuce, balsamic and soft amoroso, and the flavor combination was delectable to say the least. I never would have ordered my main had I not been so pressured, but I was glad I did. For once in such a long time, I was really into a sandwich.
We stopped eating about halfway through our sandwiches so we could make room for dessert, because—well, because we could. Our server enthusiastically picked the Oreo cheesecake ($6) for us to share. Typical, I know, but that seemed a little more doable than the heavy chocolate cake, and our stomachs had just enough room.
It arrived on a chilled plate glazed with syrup and accompanied with two dollops of whipped cream. The cheesecake was creamy, fresh and sweet, but even the two of us together couldn’t conquer it. We laid the remains to rest and waved for the bill.
I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not a fan of sandwiches, and yet the Deli made me a believer. Maybe it was the balsamic. Maybe it was the fresh roll. Maybe it was the turkey. All I know is that now I’m even pickier about my sandwiches, and in this town, the Deli is one of the only places that makes the cut.