Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Philadelphia Jewish Deli Dogs and Casino Deli

If you've been following my hot dog articles for the past couple years, you might be familiar with my fascination with Jewish Deli hot dogs, specifically the so-called, maybe-doesn't really exist "Kosher Tommy" - an all beef hot dog wrapped in beef salami (or beef bologna, at one place in Philly and a few in Baltimore -and sometimes cheese, yes I know it's not kosher ) that was/is supposedly a kosher/sort of kosher alternative to the "Texas Tommy" (bacon wrapped cheese filled dog).

The fascination goes back to the bizarre story of my Jewish / not Jewish family, especially my grandfather who was raised in Jewish family but abandoned religion in favor of art, yet whose eating habits were still very Northeast Philly Jewish style - whitefish salad, bagels, salami and eggs, and of course these mysterious hot dogs wrapped in salami.

I actually served my version of the "Kosher Tommy" at the Wienermobile event a couple weeks ago (baloney wrapped, and covered with cheese whiz for that philly twist) and most people loved it, although there was a guy who took offense and accused me of "making fun" of people who keep kosher, which was never my intent, and part of the reason for this article was to document the existence of this thing. My only guess to the popularity of cheese on a "kosher" style hot dog is that many Delis in the Philadelphia area also cater to a large non-Jewish or non-Kosher clientele.

Anyway I finally made the trek around the city and the burbs in search of this "Kosher Tommy" thing, and they were all really different, although EVERY jewish deli in the Philadelphia area seems to have some incarnation of a kosher hot dog topped with salami or pastrami or baloney and maybe cheese. My favorite was actually from Zeke's (pictured above), a small deli/diner in the city that I'd never noticed before - called the "Sizzle", a split & grilled dog wrapped in baloney and a pickle that I also jammed into the bun.

Check out my post on Serious Eats for all the dogs-
Hot Dog of the Week: A Tour of Philadelphia Deli Dogs

Another great find on this trip was the Casino Deli in Northeast Philadelphia. This place is like something from another world, a cross between a Jewish Deli and a takeout beer / lottery /grocery / cheesesteak joint.

The entire interior is covered in a massive Atlantic City mural complete with scenes of people rolling dice and various showbiz celebrities. The eccentric staff was awesome and the deli sandwiches terrific.

Pastrami dog was OK, too much bread with the giant roll but the pastrami was good. Great pickles and cheap cold beer. I'd love to come back here on a non-hot dog adventure.

Zeke's 5th Street Deli Bakery
318-20 South 5th Street; Philadelphia, PA 19106

Casino Deli
2425 Welsh Road; Philadelphia, PA 19114-2219

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