I’ve dined in five-star restaurants and had elaborate multi-course meals that go for $350 a person, but sometimes there’s nothing that satisfies like a great sandwich and a bowl of soup from an authentic Kosher-style deli.
New Yorkers always complain that the bagels here aren’t the same as in New York (supposedly it has something to do with the water). However, I’m from Chicago and I think the bagels in South Florida taste just fine. I am referring, of course, to the Jewish boiled and baked circles of dough you get from a real deli, not those doughy doughnuts from mass chains such as Dunkin’ and Einstein’s.
South Florida has no shortage of authentic Kosher and Kosher-style delis (see sidebar), but a recent addition to the landscape, Mitch’s Downton Bagels, just happens to be a few blocks from my house, so of course, I had to check it out.
For Mitch Shidlofsky this is not his first foray into the field. In 1993, Shidlofsky moved to South Florida from New York to seek a better life for his family. Two years later, his second son, Adam, was born. Mitch purchased an existing deli in 1993 in Sunrise, Florida where he learned from the ground up. In 1998, he sold the deli and two months later purchased another deli in Coral Springs. In 2002 he sold that one and signed a lease in an up-and-coming section of Coral Springs called Heron Bay.
Fast forward to today, and Mitch has opened a new namesake with his 27-year-old son, Adam (a tall handsome ginger) who brings his skills in social marketing to the family business. The combination of 30 years of experience with the addition of social media, new menu items, and a modern twist has adapted the business for the future. One of the ways that this deli signals a new generation is that it does not accept cash, only credit, debit, and online apps such as Apple and Google Pay.
That and the multi-colored hair of the diverse staff are the only hint that this isn’t your grandmother’s deli; everything else feels old school. There are racks of bagels and a deli case filled with knishes, lox, spreads, and salads. It’s all food that tastes just like Bubbie used to make, only now she’d order it on an app on the way home from her Pilates class.
The fresh, warm, bagels offer all the classics; plain, sesame, everything, poppy, onion, garlic, pumpernickel, egg, and bialys. There are a few nods to more modern tastes with sunflower, multi-grain, rainbow, and gluten-free. The only sweet bagel offered is the acceptable cinnamon raisin. No apple, blueberry, or other abominations. Schmears & spreads include plain cream cheese, veggie, scallion, nova, and the decidedly not traditional (but I love it anyway), bacon scallion. The only other nods to trendiness include Nutella or avocado spread.
Breakfast sandwiches (served on a bagel or as a wrap) come in any combination of eggs, cheese, bacon, sausage, ham, egg whites, or turkey sausage/bacon you can dream up. You can also get one with pastrami and two over-medium eggs. Omelets feature five eggs and come with a choice of home fries or sliced tomato and a bagel or toast with butter or cream cheese. Benedicts are available in traditional, Florentine, nova, or avocado varieties. French toast and pancakes top off the breakfast menu.
The lunch menu (Mitch’s closes mid-afternoon) features all the standard deli sandwich meats you’d expect; corned beef and pastrami (shipped in from Carnegie Deli), white meat turkey off the frame, roast beef, brisket, Hebrew National salami, or egg, tuna, and chicken salads. Specialty combinations and melts are also available, as are burgers. Sandwiches are available as a wrap, on a bagel, or choice of bread (Jewish rye or challah-disappointingly, no pumpernickel).
Side dishes and plated entrees include knishes, potato pancakes, blintzes, smoked fish, white fish, and salmon. The soups are so good, my only complaint is that there’s not enough variety. Matzoh ball and chicken noodle are the only options. A daily special, featuring such favorites as cabbage and mushroom barley, would round out the menu nicely. For those seeking something lighter, a nice variety of salads are offered.
If Mitch’s Downtown Deli is the future of delis, I’m all for it.
Mitch’s Downtown Deli
540 N Andrews Ave., Ft. Lauderdale
On the Side…
Here are a few other places to get a deli-cious meal.
1237 S. Powerline Rd., Pompano Beach
Flakowitz of Boynton
7410 W. Boynton Beach Blvd., Boynton Beach
New York Deli
3916 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
3055 E. Commercial. Fort Lauderdale
415 NE. 3rd St., Fort Lauderdale