Hitting the Road: Chick and Ruth’s Delly

My love affair with Deli food is beyond comprehension. As I’ve mentioned before, I was raised in an Italian-Catholic household in Suburbia, USA, with absolutely no culinary connection to the old school, kosher-style Jewish deli that is so often depicted in popular culture. Once more, it’s not like I’ve had one of these gastronomic “awakening” moments that everyone seems to have (or at least claimed to have had) in college, as my taste for the All-American meal has pretty much remained, well, the same. Still, I’ve somehow developed a fascination for the old school deli classics despite never having had much experience with them, a strange but true fact which I can only attribute to way too many hours in front of the Travel Channel.

I blame this dude...

I’ve never been to Katz’s, seldom travel to the big city, and can’t admit to having ever tasted anything more “ethnic” than a Reuben, but recently I did get a chance to stop by one of Maryland’s best known delis in Chick and Ruth’s.

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Main Street, Annapolis

An Annapolis landmark and honest-to-God “mom and pop” kinda place, Chick and Ruth’s has been serving up classic deli and diner fare since 1965. While the original owners (Chick and Ruth Levitt) have long since passed away, the place remains an Annapolis landmark. Situated in the shadow of the capital building on Main Street, Chick and Ruth’s is a place where politicians, Midshipmen, and citizens alike rub elbows in the good old American spirit of breakfast and lunch. This is a place where the entire deli gets up to say the “Pledge of Allegiance” every morning during breakfast, and a place where the signature sandwiches are named after local and national politicians. A constant watering hole for Midshipmen and officers alike from the nearby Naval Academy, there is a patriotic (but decidedly nonpartisan) feel to this place, and dare I say quite inviting to even the deli novice like myself.

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Inside the Deli

I love the service at Chick and Ruth’s. All the servers are quite friendly and very interested in the locals and regulars, and you can tell that most of the people here are on a first name basis with each other. That being said, I didn’t feel like my server, Chuck, was trying to rush me or getting impatient as this deli “newbie” asked a million questions about the menu, and instead I found him to be very helpful and accommodating.

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Meat Slicer on your left

With a menu as long as the original Pentateuch, picking just one thing to eat at Chick and Ruth’s is next to impossible. While I was tempted to go for one of their many breakfast options, it being lunchtime I decided to settle on a classic sandwich, or “samich” as they say in these parts. I originally ordered a regular Corned Beef Sandwich on pumpernickel, although a shortage of my all-time favorite bread at the deli led me to settle with the classic cut on seeded rye. I added lettuce, tomato, onions, and sauerkraut to my sandwich, which clocked out at a reasonable $6.50 for about a 4 oz. serving of meat. My mother, who I had met for lunch, went with the “Robert L. Ehrlich” – a broiled crab cake wrapped in a spinach wrap.

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Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Ehrlich (Sorry, had to get that in there)

I like my corned beef moist and a tad bit sweet, but also very lean. While I asked for an extra lean cut the meat I received was still a bit fatty, although I have to say the flavor was outstanding and I gobbled it up none the less. My only regret was that I didn’t go for the option of having my rye bread grilled. The puny slices of soft rye never really stood a chance with the amount of toppings I had ordered on my sandwich, with the extra layer of kraut effectively killing the bottom slices of bread. Soggy and falling apart as it was, it was still an outstanding sandwich, and one which I definitely enjoyed!

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You can't see it, but the bottom slices on this baby are getting killed by kraut right about now

One of the other great things about Chick and Ruth’s is that they provide every table with a tray of kosher pickles before turning out your order. Vinegary and full of flavor, these things beat chips and dip as an appetizer any day.

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There are a ton of chic sort of restaurants that you can eat at in Annapolis, with the small city having hosting a number of top end bars and seafood joints. But if you’re ever in town and are looking for a quick and filling lunch, head on over to Chick and Ruth’s to get not only a great sandwich, but a great and iconic American experience!

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Round Two. Let's Do This Thing

  • Recommendations: Corned Beef Sandwich, Pastrami Sandwich, any Sandwich really!
  • Food: 7.75/10
  • Menu Variety: 9.25/10
  • Atmosphere: Deli/Diner/Dive
  • Price: $$-Moderate= $7.01-$14
  • GrubGrade: 8.25/10 (Very Good)

Chick and Ruth’s Delly

165 Main Street

Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 269-6737

Chick & Ruth's Delly on Urbanspoon

11 comments on “Hitting the Road: Chick and Ruth’s Delly

  1. Oh I miss my kosher pickles, can’t find any since we moved to PA. 😛 I some how end up going to Chris and Ruth’s every visit to Annapolis. It’s more for the experience since I would get plenty of my Jewish delis and sandwiches in Pikesville. But it is always fun to go with all the history there and photo’s on the wall.

  2. Dude, awesome write-up! I love place like that. Katz would be incredible to dine at. You know……we oughtta plan an NY meetup!

    I’d opt for a pastrami on rye and I’m sure they’ve got a wicked mustard to throw my way. I love adding ‘kraut or slaw on my sangwich. Damn you, it’s 4 AM and you’ve got me craving an f-ing Rueban with munster 🙂

  3. ….I wanted to add:

    Thanks for focusing on a local place….they’ve so much character. I love that they have an employee page. I bet Chick & Ruth were awesome people….and I’m sure their traditions are carried on nicely. I think people should frequesnt these type of eateries more often….yeah the Arby’s shakes a free today 😛 (https://www.grubgrade.com/2009/07/08/food-news-arbys-wednesday-freebies-free-orange-cream-swirl-shake-july-8th/) but you can’t get atmosphere like this at a chain.

    On of the greatest joys in life (I think) is being able to walk into a place and order “the usual”! So good!

  4. Yum Yucky says:

    ….so I’m salivating over that Corned Beef. Ahhhh.

  5. Adam says:

    @Erin, yea I hear there is a great place in Pikesville. I don’t spend too much time up around B-More but I’d like to try some out.

    @Bear, I asked about the Pastrami at Chick and Ruths and the dude told me it was good but “not at all lean.” Being a fairly little dude and seeing as though I was driving, I opted to go with something that wouldn’t put me to sleep within an hour haha.

  6. GianniB says:

    I live about 2 blocks from Chick & Ruth’s and it’s a gas. But here’s the real winner…they DELIVER! Have never had anything bad there. It’s an Annapolis institution. If you’re ever there, don’t get put off by the line out front…oh, and be prepared to get to know your neighbors as the seating is more than tight!

  7. James says:

    Bear you were reading my mind. I could go for a Pastrami & Munster on rye with slaw and a little Russian dressing right now. Awesome write up Adam!!!

  8. AC says:

    I must say, that although you properly explained your amateur status in regards to deli’s before you wrote your review, your order would have shown your true hand with no explanation. Corned beef is eaten on rye with good mustard. perhaps some swiss. you simply sullied the sandwich with a bunch of goofy additions McD’s uses to cover their fake meat. and there is no grilling of the bread.

  9. Raiders757 says:

    That “samich” looks killer! If I’m ever u pthat way, you can bet I’m stopping there. Forget all that “chic” crap. That sort of fru-fru garbage doesn’t sit well with me anyway. I hate hoidy toidy people. You find real people and real food at the local deli.

    We have some great local delis in my area as well. The bummer, is most of them do so well during the afternoon hours, that they don’t bother staying open for diner but only a couple of days a week.

  10. Colleen says:

    You should B.J. Pumpernickels in Olney, MD. It sounds very similar. I always get the turkey rueben (best I have ever had) with the grilled bread, and they have bins of pickled veggies you can help yourself to.

  11. […] Chick & Ruth’s Delly challenge – 6 pound shake and 1.5 lb. sandwich Home Page | Yelp Page about challenge on restaurant’s website Blog entry by Will Millender about being the first person to complete the challenge Hometown Annapolis report on the filming Grubgrade review […]

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