The 8 Best Jewish Delis in Chicago

There’s nothing like hot matzo ball soup on a cold Chicago day

April 16, 2024 6:43 am
bagel with cream cheese and lox
Michael Coakes

There’s nothing that screams “comfort food” on a snowy Chicago day like a piping hot bowl of matzo ball soup paired with an overstuffed corned beef sandwich. Thankfully, the Windy City doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its Jewish deli selections, from the classic cafeteria-counter-style to the modern Jewish eatery. Here are our favorite Chicago Jewish delis.

sandwich with fries on side
The Onion Roll
Onion Roll

The Onion Roll

This family owned business has been a staple in Oak Park for 70 years, hand-slicing their lox and baking fresh New York bagels in-house daily. When you enter, you’ll get a mouth-watering whiff of the pastrami and corned beef, and it’s difficult not to leave without unbuttoning your pants.

6935 W North Ave., Oak Park


If you’re going to open a Jewish deli in Skokie, you better know what you’re doing — and they aced the concept here. It gives true New York City Jewish deli vibes, with its old-school energy. They’ve got everything you’d expect, from knishes to massive pastrami and corned beef sandwiches on rye bread paired with Dr. Brown’s soda. Our favorite combo is the crave-worthy chopped liver sandwich followed by an apple strudel.

4905 Dempster St., Skokie

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meat sandwich, pickle on side

Morry’s Deli

The Hyde Park staple (they’re opening another location in University Village) has been serving hungry Chicagoans for 50 years. It’s owned by Morry Orman (CNBC host Suze Orman’s father), and Suze Orman worked there daily after school. Their breakfasts are legendary: Standouts are the egg and cheese sandwich and the bagel with lox, but you also can’t go wrong with any of their sandwiches.

5500 S. Cornell Ave., Chicago 


It should be illegal to do a Jewish deli round-up without including Manny’s. This is the real deal. Enter the unassuming cafeteria-style restaurant in the South Loop, grab a tray and try not to let your stomach lead the way, as the portions are gigantic (inevitably, your stomach will lead the way, and you’ll have leftovers for days). The sandwiches are large enough to feed two people, and the matzo balls are bigger than softballs.

1141 S Jefferson St., Chicago

Sam & Gertie’s

A vegan Jewish deli sounds unorthodox, but somehow, this spot makes it work. Andy Kalish wanted to open a Jewish deli in the uptown neighborhood, but his wife, Gina, refused. He offered to make it a vegan Jewish deli, and they had a deal. Sam & Gertie’s — named after Andy’s maternal grandparents — opened in 2019 to great reception, focusing on seitan, which is a meat substitute that works well to replace meat and fish. They have eggless egg salad, vegan tuna on bagels — and even vegan deli sandwiches. Our only complaint: They’re only open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

1309 W Wilson Ave., Chicago 

Helfeld’s Delicatessen & Catering

This family-owned deli was inspired by Emily Helfeld’s grandfather, who arrived in Chicago from Poland in the 1980s. All of the recipes here were derived from the family, and they’re homemade Jewish staples including matzo ball soup, knishes and noodle kugel. But what they’re truly known for are their massive bagels. There are a few things to know before you go. First of all, it’s key to order online to avoid the wait. Secondly: Come hungry or bring a friend — the portions are exceptionally large. Third: Get the lox bagel — it’s the best.

1750 W North Ave., Chicago 


Aaron Steingold decided to create his own deli after moving from North Carolina to Chicago and discovering that the city lacked his favorite Jewish delis that he tried whenever he visited big cities like New York. Steingold, who sharpened his culinary chops by working at Charlie Trotter’s and Art Smith’s Table 52, originally opened his own spot in Irving Park before moving the location to Wrigleyville. Don’t worry about the line here — it’s always long, but it moves quickly. Steingold’s specializes in bagels, which are mixed, fermented, cut, steamed, hand-rolled and baked daily. And of course, they have plenty of cream cheeses to go with them. Their bagels are crisp on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside, just like a good New York Jewish bagel should be. Everything is made in-house.

3737 N Southport Ave., Chicago

cheese and meat sandwich, coleslaw and pickle on side
Max and Benny’s
Max and Benny’s

Max and Benny’s

This spot is big, but its following is bigger. Expect a wait (probably best to make a reservation) but it’s well worth it for classic Jewish food. You won’t find a better reuben than the one here, which is stacked high on grilled rye bread with tangy coleslaw alongside a crisp kosher dill pickle. Be prepared to take half your meal home. Max and Benny’s also has a gluten-free menu, which is a rare find for a Jewish deli (they even have a celiac eating space).

461 Waukegan Rd., Northbrook


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