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Best of Toronto

The Best Delis in Toronto

Posted by Liora Ipsum / July 15, 2013

deli in TorontoThe best delis in Toronto (Jewish style delis that is) are temples to time-tested traditions of meat and mustard stacked on rye bread. They are casual places devoted to towering heaps of briney, smoked beef served with ritualistic sides of pickles, coleslaw and soul-warming classics like matzah ball soup. While many line the Bathurst Street borscht belt, there are at least a couple nosh-worthy destinations elsewhere in the GTA.

Here are the best delis in Toronto.

See also:

The Best Sandwiches in Toronto
The Best Bagels in Toronto

Caplansky's photo from L.Richarz in the blogTO flickr pool.

Caplansky’s

Caplansky’s

This neo-retro College Street deli pays reverence to the old ways, smoking and pickling beef in house, carving meat to order and crafting thick sandwiches on rye. Reviving recipes that would make Bubbie proud, the menu also features homestyle Jewish comfort foods like matzah ball soup, chopped liver and kishka. More »

Centre Street Deli

Centre Street Deli

This Thornhill deli has been in business since 1988 and does everything from fatty handcut smoked meat sandwiches on double rye to chopped salads, breakfast platters and soul foods like cabbage rolls. Situated in an unassuming strip mall, expect to find the place bustling and perpetually packed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. More »

Ben & Izzy's

Ben & Izzy's

This brand spanking new kosher (not just kosher-style) deli on Bathurst is barely three months old but has already developed a steady following of regulars. Here, the meat is butchered, brined and smoked on-site resulting in tender, juicy sandwiches stacked high between pillowy rye bread. Note they observe the Sabbath weekly and all Jewish holidays, so it's best to check their hours before you head over. More »

Pancer's Deli Emporium

Pancer's Deli Emporium

Wanna talk about chutzpah? After selling off the family business (no. 7 below), Lorne Pancer opened this new Richmond Hill delicatessen, again under the family name. The recipes are all new, but the seasoned deli-master has a lifetime of experience to draw on. Here, classic sandwiches are made to order and house smoked meat is available on platters or by the pound. This deli also delivers to lucky 905ers. More »

Wolfie's

Wolfie's

This Sheppard and Bathurst stalwart has been serving up classic deli sandwiches and sides since 1975. Go here for the brisket and have it single (lean) or double layered (ribboned with fat) or select from all the standard brined beefs. If feeling like a fresser, have your sandwich Wolf-sized for a triple decker tower of meat, bread and mustard. More »

Switzer's Airport Deli

Switzer's Airport Deli

This shopworn Mississauga delicatessen has been serving up the best west-end ruben and baby back sandwiches for 30+ years. The well-loved diner has stood the test of time with a classic menu boasting overloaded sandwiches, chopped salads and cherry cheesecake. More »

Moe Pancer's

Moe Pancer's

This Toronto institution was sold back in 2010 to a longtime customer who purchased the generations-old recipes along with the Bathurst Street address and everything in it. The deli has seen some updates in recent years, but the pastrami and smoked meat sandwiches are as satisfying as they ever were. More »

Corned Beef House

Corned Beef House

While the Vaughan location is still young, the Corned Beef House on Adelaide has been an Entertainment District institution since 1978. The deli is best known for two fisted corned beef and smoked meat sandwiches served with a pickle spear on the side. More »

Steeles Deli Restaurant

Steeles Deli Restaurant

This old school deli at Toronto's north edge is well loved by locals for soul foods like kishka doused in gravy and platters of liver and fried onions. The menu includes the full array of delicious, house-brined beef sandwiches too, including pastrami, smoked meat and corned beef loaded on to rye with yellow mustard. More »

Discussion

40 Comments

joey ramone / July 15, 2013 at 03:14 pm
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pancers is the best deli in the city by far..
jewfood / July 15, 2013 at 03:56 pm
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Pancers is definitely the best. What about Red Pancer Deli on Bathurst. That still around?
sw / July 15, 2013 at 04:00 pm
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Any Jew in Toronto knows this is list is a sham, seeing as Yitz's was omitted. Huuuuge oversight. Caplansky's as number one? HA good joke.
jb / July 15, 2013 at 04:07 pm
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Caplansky's is great if you like over-priced, under-spiced food with a side of lousy service.

Count yourself lucky if any of the staff at Corned Beef House will even look at you
Dr / July 15, 2013 at 04:16 pm
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Where is Druxy's!!!
Delibelly / July 15, 2013 at 04:17 pm
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No Katz's on Dufferin by Yorkdale? Come on. Oher than the location, that place is great. Quick, heaping meat sliced right before your eyes, one can't go wrong. I recommend the cow tongue.
Cor / July 15, 2013 at 04:20 pm
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Caplansky’s as number one... REALLY??? I have been to every place on this list more than once other than the new Pancer's, Ben & Izzy's and Switzer's Airport Deli and there is no question the old Pancer's ("Moe Pancer's") is number one. Caplansky’s should be somewhere around the three to four range.
Not a Caplansgreaseky Fan / July 15, 2013 at 05:01 pm
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It's interesting to me the #1 and #2 contrast as they represent polar opposites.

Centre Street Deli is awesome, affordable, and tasty. Recommend getting 2 of the fatty pastrami, one is a good size for a hungry kid.

Caplansky's is the only restaurant in Toronto where I have unfortunately, and with apologies to the nearby carpark, emptied my stomach afterwards. Bad flavour, greasy greasy greasy, odd presentation - somewhere between opening a can of corned beef and breaking it apart with a fork and letting a 5 year old carve the roast - and a heaping plate that would make a Texas grill stop and wonder, basically greasy brisket with greasy potatoes with extra grease and a grease sauce. From a can.
Rick / July 15, 2013 at 05:03 pm
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WHAT NO KATZ?!?!?!?!

Seriously, I've never had such good corned beef before until going here, yea it's a bit overpriced, but they really stack on the meat, and it really does melt in your mouth. Also the house honey mustard is the freakin best, combined with one of their house pickles, your in heeb heaven!!!!!
Frankie / July 15, 2013 at 05:16 pm
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Yitz's is on Eglinton, the north side, a few steps west of Avenue. I offer this information so whenever it is that you manage to finally pull your head out of your ass, you can find your way over to one of the finest establishments in Midtown.
Moneesha replying to a comment from McRib / July 15, 2013 at 07:12 pm
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Or so they claim.....
soju / July 15, 2013 at 09:13 pm
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Caplansky's at the top of the list invalidated the entire thing for me; clearly the reviewer's taste and mine do not align. I enjoyed the taste of the massive slab of greasy smoked meat I had there, and the service was quite good on that occasion, but the sandwich was soggy, and the various other selections of Jewish food I tried were mediocre at best. Everything was too greasy and somewhat bland. This opinion seems to be held by everyone I talk to, Jews and gentiles alike. I don't understand how it found itself at the top of this list.
Ridiculous / July 15, 2013 at 11:29 pm
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Caplansky's!?! I've tried and tried Caplansky's and each time it's gotten worst. The last time I needed a steak knife to cut the smoke meat. This list is ridiculous if it's number one. You'd be better off buying smoked meat prepackaged in a plastic bag at Loblaws.
Melissa Goldstein / July 15, 2013 at 11:31 pm
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The best smoked meat I have ever had was at Free Times (and made by Goldin's). Strange that it didn't even warrant a mention, but I guess it's not considered a deli??
Shelly / July 15, 2013 at 11:37 pm
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Shopsy's is a TO classic that should be on this list!
Josh / July 15, 2013 at 11:44 pm
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Corned Beef house is great! I DO AGREE!!! WORTH THE VISIT!
J / July 16, 2013 at 12:12 am
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Its sad when these lists, voted on by BlogTO readers, turn into popularity contests where the trendy downtown name gets the votes because its the only place on the list the majority of BlogTO readers have heard of. Caplansky's is awful but its what people know so it comes in as #1. Don't blame the BlogTO writers/editors for these lists all they are doing is relaying the disappointing results (with some desperate rationalization in mini reviews). Instead, keep an eye out for the posting on the main page when a new vote is being held and lobby in comment sections for your faves! If you click through to any of the full restaurant reviews you will find the true story in their respective comments section.
Myles / July 16, 2013 at 12:44 am
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This list needs to be reevaluated. I treat BlogTO as being synonymous with quality reviews and 'Best Of' lists and this fails.
John Coates / July 16, 2013 at 05:22 am
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No Katz's?? Their tongue sandwich with a Vernon's ginger ale is devine.
csd / July 16, 2013 at 10:42 am
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Caplansky's has to be the most overrated restaurant in the entire city. It's not even close. Why do I have to see this Zane guy EVERYWHERE on my tv? What the hell is going on? Your restaurant sucks.
Mel L / July 16, 2013 at 10:50 am
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So the author his gone through and removed the half dozen comments mentioning YITZ"S, Stick to hipster tacos, bitch.
sw replying to a comment from Mel L / July 16, 2013 at 11:02 am
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I noticed that as well. That's extremely weird... Yitz's is light years ahead of CRaplansky's.

I've tried so hard to like Caplansky's - I've gone four or five times. First of all, the smoked meat gravy is absolutely disgusting. Also, the last time I went, we waited 45 mins for MENUS. Don't ask me why we stuck around. Not only that, we had to wait 30 mins to get our bill... Not to mention the food was just so mediocre.

Corned beef, a greek salad and potato latkes at Yitz's FTW.
ian / July 16, 2013 at 12:33 pm
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found it strange that yitz's isn't on the list as well.
same with katz's
not a fan of caplansky's for all the reasons listed above.
Oren / July 16, 2013 at 01:44 pm
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This list doesn't include fast food Deli's, but Pumpernickel's Deli at 200 Front Street has one of the best Smoked Meat Sandwiches in the city. Not to mention the Schnitzel Sandwich which is unbeatable!
Sonia / July 16, 2013 at 03:36 pm
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Any kosher delis in Toronto/Mississauga? Are any of these kosher?
sw replying to a comment from Sonia / July 16, 2013 at 06:02 pm
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Ben & Izzy's is completely 100% kosher - they're even closed on Shabbat.
Brandon / July 23, 2013 at 03:21 pm
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Hey voters, how the hell did Caplansky's make it on to this list? Even the now-steeply-declined Pickle Barrel is a million times better than that place. And in terms of downtown delis, Corned Beef House completely destroys that overrated and overpriced place.
sam / July 23, 2013 at 04:20 pm
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YITZ"S should be on here.....whoever did this list is clearly....an idiot.
Morty Fresser / July 27, 2013 at 07:56 pm
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Kaplansky's isn't that bad.... But for a smoked meat sandwich? Forget it. Their beef brisket sandwich is their best offer - that's a happening thing. Their borscht is good, too.
BUT - - for pastrami, you've got _one_ option here in TO, people, and that's Pancer's (on Bathurst). Period.
Whatever kind of meat you, like - cole slaw is a necessary side for a deli meal, and Pancer's also **the best**. Centre Street, where the smoked meat is pretty good, has dire cole slaw - same w Kaplansky's.
Just my opinion, but I know my deli.
Trent / August 2, 2013 at 01:10 pm
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haters gonna hate! Caplanskys rules.
Florence / August 5, 2013 at 10:02 am
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Yitz's on Eglinton has been, and still the very best place for Home-made style-Brisket-Add the Cabbage Rolls too...
The breads and baking are routinely delicious.
Friendly and courteous service always.
Judy / August 14, 2013 at 12:25 pm
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I am soooo happy Pancers (7) is on there, I have been going since i was born!! Love it soo much better then Caplansky's
sol zuckerman / September 13, 2013 at 10:01 am
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both centre street deli and yitz's are the top 2 delis in Toronto. To place caplansky in the no 1 spot is a joke. It is one of the worst delis I have ever been to with rude service and tasteless food.
Yitz's? Not for me. / September 13, 2013 at 10:37 am
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Yitz's (Eglington & Avenue) was left off this list for good reason. I've been there in the realm of 25+ times as I used to work close by and dining options are very limited. It was rarely a positive experience.

1. Consistently surly, grumpy service from miserable people that don't want to be there.

2. Most of their food comes in frozen (it's obvious from the way it looks, tastes, and I witnessed the ol' Sisco truck loading in once a week). I mean look at those french fries...just brutal.

3. Burgers = horrible. Salad = horrible. Soup = passable (Matzoh). Smoked Meat = boring. Bread = mostly stale.

4. DO NOT GET THE THE TURKEY SANDWICH. The staff tried to warn me (usually a great sign, right?) but I insisted on trying it once. Horrible stale break and brutally dry turkey. Cough cough.


Doug / September 16, 2013 at 05:49 pm
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I don't know how you chart your stats, but i find Moe Pancers Deli much better then who you have on our listing. Maybe your editors should go out and do a deli taste test. This way maybe the list would be charted differently. Do A Real taste test instead of just sitting on your buts. Maybe T.O.Blog should do a deli competition for all of Toronto. Then a true comparison of Corned Beef, Pastrami, Roast Beef, Beef Tongue and Smoked Meat can be made.
DELI MAN / November 14, 2013 at 01:02 pm
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The DELI MAN documentary tried to visit as many Toronto delis as we could last spring. The smoked meat at Centre Street is succulent, tender, heavenly. I also really love what Zane is doing at Caplansky's. Simply great neighborhood vibe, terrific food, wonderful energy. The doccie also got to interview Yitz Penciner, one of Toronto's legendary deli men.
pam / January 19, 2014 at 10:36 am
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What happened to Chopies deli on young street. best place for a corn beef sandwich. Miss that place.
Steve replying to a comment from jb / February 1, 2014 at 07:27 pm
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Caplansky's has the best smoked meat in the city. Those who call it under spiced clearly don't know how it's made. They throw tons of spices in there.

Every other deli in the city buys their smoked meat from outside sources. They don't make it in house like Caplansky's. It is expensive, but this is Toronto after all.

As for whether they're kosher or not, who cares. Not me.
Anya / February 1, 2014 at 07:28 pm
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No kidding about the terrible service and over priced menu at Caplansky's. Very unimpressed with the quality , it felt hectic and unorganized when I visited and to be honest, kind of messy and unkept. Definitely will not be returning.
Berbician Foods / March 13, 2014 at 11:15 pm
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Berbician Snack-it now has a Halal version of Beef Pastrami. located at 5122 Dundas St. W in Etobicoke. Phone 416-743-5531 ext 240.. Like us on facebook.com/berbician

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