Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen

Written by on March 26, 2014 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Downtown (SW) Portland, Oregon

Kenny & Zuke's Corner Deli

How I heard of this place: Before heading south for our week in Portland, a couple of friends raved about Kenny & Zuke’s. While at Powell’s Bookstore, the man at the information desk also pointed us in that direction for a quick and delicious lunch. We were sold!

Type of cuisine: If you’ve never visited one of our 3 locations – Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen, Deli Bar or Bagelworks – you’re missing out on some of the finest artisan-made Deli fare that this country, and tradition, has to offer.

The story continues, “When we started up Kenny & Zuke’s a little over 5 years ago, it was because of the lack of a good Jewish Delicatessen – and decent pastrami, bagels and the like. Little did we realize what we would set in motion. and what the response to it would be!

Kenny & Zuke's Chalkboard Menu

The first thing we had to come up with was a superb pastrami – one that wasn’t commercially produced, and harkened back to the old traditions. So we rolled our sleeves up, and tested, and tasted, and tested some more. And when it was all done and the smoke (oak, to be exact) had cleared, we knew we were on to something. We had developed a true American delicacy – a Pastrami so delicious, so satisfying that it seemed like a new and ultimate comfort food. Yet at the same time, we came to the conclusion that we weren’t really doing anything new. We were, in fact, doing something very old. And in this case – better. And we found that very few people were doing it this way anymore. We were now considered “artisans” when all we were really doing was fabricating something the way it had always been done, before commercialization and standardization took its toll.

But boy did people notice, and our pastrami took us from a little farmer’s market in Hillsdale to a standing room only brunch at my old restaurant, Ken’s Place, to the wildly successful Delicatessen that bears the name Kenny and Zuke’s.

Kenny & Zuke's Pastrami Info

And we found that once we had started tinkering with one thing, we just couldn’t stop. So we felt compelled to craft the pickles, and the rye bread, our fabulous bagels and bialies, a Challah worth the name, and virtually everything on the Kenny and Zuke’s menu. And the chord we hit in Portland was immediate and overwhelming, finding a place in the hearts of locals and tourists alike. What we produced touched a nerve. The flavors that we brought back to life were like old friends to our clientele, acquaintances they had made through their grandmother’s cooking, or visits to Delicatessens from wherever they hailed or visited, or childhood take-out feasts with their families.

Ambiance: A true, vibrant and bright Portland establishment set on the corner of SW Stark Street and where NW 11th Avenue becomes SW 11th, the expansive windows allow for the beauty of natural light to stream through and brighten the hardwood floors and wooden fixtures set against the white ceilings and brick inlayed walls.

Kenny & Zuke's Dining Area

A bustling space both in the kitchen and the dining area, trendy hipsters utilize their lunch breaks to converse with friends and colleagues, while tourists stare open-mouthed and wide-eyed at the true Portland experience of good food.

Kenny & Zuke's Seating & Kitchen

What I ordered: The youngest in our party of three selected a simple, toasted whole wheat bagel with cream cheese ($3.45), while her mother and I splurged! We started with the Pastrami Cheese Fries ($11.95), a larger-than-life plate of fries, piled high and topped with thick-cut pastrami and melted cheese,

Kenny & Zuke's Pastrami Cheese Fries

and shared the B.L.T. ($14.45) on toast, a slice of pickle and a side of Potato Salad.

Kenny & Zuke's BLT

What I loved: The pastrami cheese fries. What’s not to love?

Kenny & Zuke's Oven/Toaster

Why I loved it: A bright and vibrant space, full of people, friendly cooks in the kitchen directly ahead of those of us eating at the barquette and food worth every tasty calorie!

Kenny & Zuke's Menu

Cost: High ($13.45 + per sandwich and side)

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