Where to Find the Best Delis in Boston

By Emily Millian
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Once you find a great deli, it’s hard to go anywhere else for a sandwich or a certain salad. A traditional style of American eatery evolved from Jewish, Italian, and other immigrant-owned food businesses, delicatessens specialize in ready-to-eat delicacies such as sliced cold cuts, smoked fish, and archetypal sandwiches. No need to travel to New York for any of these spots: Check out eight picks for the best delis in Boston, both old-school and new.

Vinal General Store

Vinal General Store Sandwich
Brian Samuels Photography

From the crew that brought us Vinal Bakery and its highly craveable English muffins, Vinal General Store takes on lunchtime. The Union Square sandwich shop strikes just the right balance between vintage vibes and fresh takes on classic deli sandwiches, such as their version of the Boston-Italian-style Spuckie on Iggy’s ciabatta with heaps of mortadella, salami, smoked ham, and pepperoni, plus a signature Hots Mayo and smoky maple vinaigrette. Not a meat lover? The tuna-salad stack called Off The Hook is a menu favorite, and veggie fans will find a variety of vegetarian sandwiches served at this sandwich counter. Save a smidge of room for a swirl of soft serve after lunch.

Michael's Deli

Michael's Deli Latkes one of the best Best Delis in Boston
Brian Samuels Photography

Kugels, knishes, and ’strami, oh my! Michael’s Deli is as quintessential as delis come around Boston. Anchoring Coolidge Corner for nearly 40 years, the Brookline spot beckons with award-winning corned beef piled high on slices of challah or cissel (Jewish rye bread). Of course we love the Reuben (tangy sauerkraut) and Rachel (crunchy coleslaw), as well as the super-lean Romanian Pastrami and ultra-tender Beef Brisket. The choices aren’t completely classic at Michael’s, however: Ask about the “dirty sandwiches” for a little extra crunch (they’re topped with kettle-cooked potato chips). In addition to mile-high sandwiches and deli meats by the pound, the NY-style deli is a great spot to get your latke fix and a steaming bowl of matzo ball soup

Cutty's | Best Restaurants in Brookline and one of the best Best Delis in Boston
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Boring cold cuts no more: The handhelds at indie sandwich shop Cutty’s are no joke. Expertly seasoned and sliced slow-roast beef, smoked ham, and more options combine with thick layers of condiments and high-quality breads at this Brookline Village mainstay. The Beef 1000 isn’t your typical roast beef sandwich with its thousand Island dressing, sharp cheddar, and genius application of savory crispy shallots—and it’s one of our favorites anywhere. The Brookline Village spot, which has remained takeout-only, draws a crowd for Super Cluckin’ Sunday, a once-a-month occasion where the husband-and-wife chef duo (both alumni of the food magazine Cook’s Illustrated) show off their astute interpretation of the fried chicken sandwich.

food served in Mamaleh’s Delicatessen one of the best Best Delis in Boston
Credit: Chris McIntosh

From cured pastrami and salmon to scratch-made bagels and sweets, Mamaleh’s Delicatessen does what it takes to make a modern Jewish deli. That’s why the counter-service spot in Kendall Square has seen such success expanding into Brookline and High Street Place. The Cambridge original (next-door to sibling bar State Park) is the largest location, with indoor and outdoor dining and a menu of house cocktails like a Seeded Rye Old Fashioned, a gin pickle martini, and the Malted Brandy Alexander boozy milkshake. Whether you swing by for a smoked-fish breakfast sandwich or are perusing the fridges of take-home items, you’ll feel well taken care of by this comforting cuisine. 

P&K Deli

P&K Delicatessen exterior one of the best Best Delis in Boston
Credit: Chris McIntosh

Located on the Somerville-Cambridge line, this family-owned deli has been serving up subs for three generations. It’s safe to say, there are reasons P&K Deli has been around since 1952—and one reason is the Italian. P&K’s menu also offers the deli classics of Italian-style cold cuts and salads (egg, chicken, tuna, and seafood), as well as freshly baked scali bread. This old-school takeout spot is open bright and early at 5:30 a.m. on weekdays only, so be sure to snag a sub to be your commuting companion, and look forward to lunch.

Exodus Bagels

Bagel sandwiches from Exodus Bagels
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Originally a pop-up at local farmers markets and cafes, Exodus Bagels now operates a walk-up window in Roslindale Village. The family-owned and operated shop pumps out more than 6,000 sourdough bagels a week with NY-style chew. Sandwiches are reinvented classics, such as the colorful Lil Fishy with lox, horseradish dill cream cheese, sliced cucumbers, and pickled red onion; and vegetarian-friendly All Hartt of roasted beets, hummus, and pickled veggies. Pre-order bags of bagels; while sandwiches, coffee and sweets are purchased during open hours only. Having a little party? Assorted deli platters are available for online ordering, as well.

American Provisions

American Provisions one of the best Best Delis in Boston
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Part of the new-school deli era, American Provisions is approachable to locals and visitors alike. With locations in South Boston and Dorchester, each store has a highly curated selection of cheese, charcuterie, pantry provisions, and natural wine. AP slings sammies with local flavor like the super-fresh Farm House with honey-maple turkey, cheddar, tomatoes, cucumbers, sharp honey mustard, and arugula on ciabatta; and the Grilled Pig of smoked ham, brie, and salted cultured butter on a demi baguette. And who could forget the legendary Italian? AP also offers a crowd-pleasing catering menu, including sandwiches made to order and holiday pies available annually for pickup at both stores. 

Salumeria Italiana

Salumeria Italiana | Where to Find the Best Italian Subs in Boston
Credit: Chris McIntosh

A North End staple, Salumeria Italiana has been a one-stop shop for all manner of Italian provisions since 1962. A wide range of Italian groceries, prepared food, and made-to-order panini are in order, from freshly sliced bresaola and prosciutto to assorted oils, vinegars and homemade pestos. If you see the sun-dried tomato pesto on the shelf behind the counter, it is a must-buy. Like any great deli, Salumeria’s cooler is always filled with a tempting array of olives, cheeses, and deeply marinated vegetables in olive oil.

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