PHLReview

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image
8.6

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen

JewishDeli

Queen VillageBella Vista

$$$$Perfect For:Classic EstablishmentBrunchLunchSerious Take-Out OperationDining SoloBreakfastBig Groups

Included In

Jewish food hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years. Neither has Famous 4th Street Delicatessen. And while you might be able to eat bagels, lox, french toast, and smoked meats at lots of modern places, the best ones—like this Queen Village institution—have been doing it for generations.

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Famous opened in 1923 and has all the trappings of the quintessential Jewish deli/corner market/meeting place. It takes a second for your eyes to adjust to the fluorescent, almost painful lighting bouncing off the black-and-white tiled floors, while slabs of fish, brine-covered meats, and towering desserts flaunt themselves from shiny display cases.

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

On Saturdays and Sundays, there’s an air of chaos as waiters weave in and out of tables and shuffle through the impatient and hungry waiting in line for a table. Countless photos of very famous, very random people line the walls (who knew Richard Simmons ate corned beef?), while the window-adjacent dining area is like Philly’s version of the hot bar at Erewhon—you’re just as likely to see pro athletes and politicians as neighborhood bubbies and zaydes bickering over knish.

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Everything here is gargantuan, from the zaftig sandwiches piled half-a-foot high with pastrami, roast beef, turkey and coleslaw to the mountain of corned beef hash topped with sunny side up eggs. Matzoh softballs float in their deliciously salty soup, while the creamy cheese blintzes are as big as bricks. They have diner-style options on the menu, but skip the burgers and BEC’s for a smoked fish platter (they have some of the best nova lox and whitefish salad in the city).

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Because there’s so much on the menu—and each dish is just so much—the move is to come with a group and share, or order ahead and take your duffel bag of food to go. No, you won’t have room, but yes, you want a cookie (chocolate chip is the best). It’s an integral part of the decadent, gluttonous experience—one they’ve perfected over 100 years.

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image
Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image
Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image
Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image
Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

Food Rundown

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Challah French Toast

These thick-cut slices of buttery, custardy challah french toast are dusted with powdered sugar and served with warm syrup. A great choice if you’re interested in dessert for breakfast, or as a sweet compliment to any of the meaty mains.
Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Matzoh Ball Soup

They say matzoh ball soup is Jewish penicillin. And by they, we mean Jewish grandmas. This soup—loaded with tender shredded chicken and melt-in-your-mouth hunks of veggies—certainly does have restorative properties, and is perfect whether you’re feeling sick, down, or are just plain hungry. The broth itself can be hit or miss (occasionally over-or under-seasoned), but the doughy matzoh ball is always delicious.
Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Nova Lox Platter

Famous has 10+ choices of smoked fish to go on a platter, but the nova lox is our favorite. A generous portion of the silky, not-too-salty fish is served alongside lettuce, tomato, onion, capers, olives, and your choice of bagel and side (get the potato pancakes).
Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Pastrami Special

When you’re really hungry, there are few things in life more satisfying than a good pastrami special (and this one is great). A heap of smoky, tangy, ruby-red pastrami is topped with crisp coleslaw and creamy Russian dressing, all on housemade rye. It’s a delicious, beautiful mess.
Famous 4th Street Delicatessen image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Potato Pancakes

These are the Goldilocks of latkes—not too thick, not too thin, crisp on the outside and tender in the middle. We like them with the chunky housemade applesauce, but they’re also an excellent vehicle for deli meat.

Included In

FOOD RUNDOWN

Suggested Reading

The Best Brunch Spots In Philadelphia image

The Best Brunch Spots In Philadelphia

From waffles to dim sum and all the eggs in between.

Hershel’s East Side Deli image

Once you see the huge slabs of corned beef and pastrami being cut behind the counter at Hershel's, there’s no way you’re leaving Reading Terminal Market with anything else.

Where To Eat When You're Visiting Philly image

Yes, you’re going to have a cheesesteak. But there’s so much more to eat and drink in Philadelphia.

Infatuation Logo

Cities

2024 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The views and opinions expressed on The Infatuation’s site and other platforms are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of (or endorsement by) JPMorgan Chase. The Infatuation and its affiliates assume no responsibility or liability for the content of this site, or any errors or omissions. The Information contained in this site is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.

FIND PLACES ON OUR APP

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store