Max's Deli Worth the Trek to Highland Park

By Caitlin Klein in Food on Jun 1, 2011 4:40PM

Where do you get your New York-style deli fix in our fair Windy City? If you are a fan of matzo, pastrami, corned beef, cheese blintzes, smoked fish, brisket, and lox & cream cheese served all day, we can only assume that you have sniffed out some pretty good options. Allow us to throw another hat into the ring: a trip up north to Max's Deli in Highland Park will knock your socks off. Who knows, maybe literally. Max's is inconspicuously tucked back into a strip mall off of Highway 41, which is obviously not the ideal or typical setting for a New York-style deli. Even still, the food we had was noteworthy and if you are a deli-loving Chicagoan, it's a must-try.

Exhibit One: Bread basket. It's a veritable wheaty-kaleidoscope. Onion rolls, garlic bread, and crackers of many shapes and sizes tide you over until your meal comes. There are also pickles that we stuffed into our pockets lest we leave any uneaten. They were obviously once cucumbers (which is notable because so many droopy, over-vinegared pickles do not resemble their former selves at all). These fine specimens were thick and crispy.

Exhibit Two: Old fashioned chicken soup with your choice of matzo ball, kreplach, noodles, rice, or kasha. Natch we got the matzo. It's the one-gargantuan-ball variety. We prefer medium balls (stop laughing, you're a pervert), but this soup was delicious; brothy and not too salty.

Exhibit Three: Deli sandwiches four fingers high. Look deep into the picture of the lean brisket pastrami sandwich above, and notice it looking right back into your soul. You'd better find somebody to share your sandwich, or else you're going to be eating this thing for three days.

Probably the only real drawback to Max's is the service; it's apt to be slow, and you might have to hang a foot out of your booth and trip a waiter to get them to come take your order.

On the way out, we also recommend picking up some rugelach for the ride home. The two-bite folded pastries are filled with choices like apricot, chocolate, nuts, and raspberry.

Max's is located at 191 Skokie Valley Road in Highland Park, and is open every day of the week.