While it seems like everyone and their brother is spouting the virtues of a gluten-free existence—gluten-free lipstick is actually a thing now—there’s thankfully still a lunchtime line at Carl’s Deli. The existence of this line serves as my personal proof that the skinny police and the nutrition Nazis have yet to seize ultimate control of the universe. When I finally make my turn to the front of said line, there’s really only one sandwich for me. My trusty favorite, priced at $6.50, is the No. 18: pastrami, coleslaw, and pepper jack on dark, salted rye. Let’s start with the fact that the pastrami is beef, not some pseudo-turkey-hybrid crap. Then there’s the beyond-creamy coleslaw, the subtly piquant pepper jack, and a schmear of 1000 island, all bookended by two just-thick-enough slices of dark, well-salted rye bread. Washed down with a can of bracing Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda, this might just be the mid-day meal of champions.
Carl’s Deli, 2836 Observatory Ave., Hyde Park, (513) 871-CARL, carlsdeli.com