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One Great Sandwich: Eleven City Diner's Pastrami on Rye (AKA "the Steve Dahl")

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Feb 27, 2008 4:45PM


Two years ago, in our review of Eleven City Diner on South Wabash, we compared Brad Rubin's tribute to classic Jewish delis and diners to the Blues Brothers. We said it was "too good to be a parody, not good enough to be the real thing." That still holds true, which is a blessing and a curse. Shortly after ours and other reviews started pouring in, Rubin pulled the plug on all night weekend service, which would have brought Eleven City closer to the genuine article. The prices are nothing to laugh at, either. We've had more than one friend chew us out on the prices after recommending the place.

Rubin and his staff still get the deli sandwiches right, though. The pastrami on rye was an early favorite of ours. Since our initial visits, the sandwich has since been christened the "Steve Dahl," a tribute to the radio legend and "civic irritant" (according to Sun-Times "sports columnist" Jay Mariotti, who's made a career out of being a civic irritant). If we could go to our grave having had a sandwich named after us as regal as this, it would have been a successful life.

What you're staring at, readers, is $11.95 of perfectly cured and marbled pastrami, piled high between three layers of rye bread. Served with cole slaw and a pickle wedge to at least keep us honest on the vegetable front, this sandwich nearly beat us down the other day. Two years ago, we'd have owned this with ease. The "Dahl" was the centerpiece of a handpicked three-course lunch that included a bowl of Eleven City's chicken soup with matzo and carrot cake, all washed down with next week's "BotW" selection. Bottom line, this is comfort food at its finest.

Eleven City Diner is located at 1112 S. Wabash.