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Eastern Deli

June 17, 2022

Working weekends is the worst. I know, I know. I picked a business that doesn’t take days off, but still…that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna complain about it.

Working a Saturday night can either be really easy or really hectic. I never know what I’m going to get until I get there.

I volunteered to pick up a shift last weekend for a co-worker who needed to take a vacation day. I hadn’t worked a Saturday in a while and I needed a day off during the week so it actually worked out really well.

I got lucky. I got one of the really, really easy Saturday nights. My co-worker and I had completed our task before 5:00 and we were basically just sitting around waiting in case something else popped up.

I had the time so I decided I was going to grab dinner somewhere. I hate trying to order from a restaurant on Saturday night so I started looking for something quick and easy. I just wanted a sandwich so I put that in to a Google search to see what would come up.

I got a hit for the Eastern Deli. I had passed this place many times but had never eaten there before. Now as good as any time to try it, right?

Eastern Deli is on Eastern Avenue just south of the intersection with Burton Street on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. The restaurant has been there for quite a while. Google Street View goes back to 2007 and the business is in those pictures. It’s in kind of a strip mall with several other businesses right next to the post office. There is street parking in the area but there is also a lot next to the Post Office. I don’t know if you’re supposed to park there but it was a Saturday and the lot was empty so I took my chances.

The restaurant isn’t very big. It’s a pretty typical counter service sandwich shop. There’s a small ordering area that overlooks a very small kitchen. The sandwiches are cooked to order on a flattop that had four or five things going when I stopped in There is a small dine-in area with a few tables but most people I saw coming in to the shop were grabbing their sandwiches to go.

I was looking over the menu and one of the other customers aske me if I had ever been there before. I said no and he said I had to try the gyro (which he pronounced (Gy-RO). It was tempting but I don’t love gyros and there was a Philly Steak sub on the menu. That sounded good to me so that’s what I ordered. The cook asked if I wanted everything on it (onions, peppers, lettuce, mayo). I said no, just cheese…then asked if I could add jalapenos since I saw them sitting amongst the vegetables in the prep area.

The meat was thrown on the grill as was the long sub bun. I paid the $15 with my credit card which included fries and a drink. It took less than ten minutes for the sandwich to be grilled, wrapped up, and handed over. I then headed back to the office to eat.

I started with the fries on the drive back. They had just come out of the fryer and were super hot when I first reached in to the bag. The fries are simple fries. I watched them being poured out of a bag straight in to the fryer. They were seasoned well though with a heavy dusting of seasoning salt. I had to give them a few minutes to cool down but they were enjoyable once I did.

The cook thought I was pretty weird for wanting a Philly Steak with just steak and cheese but veggies seem to ruin everything. I did ask for jalapenos but he must have forgot to throw them on…like I said, he was pretty confused about me not wanting peppers and onions.

The Philly Steak sandwich is pretty big. It’s served on a buttered, toasted bun with tender steak chunks that have a delicious crispy edge from the flattop. The cheese is not Wiz but provolone slices. The cheese melted into the steak creating a big, gooey ball of meat. I didn’t have any expectations for this sandwich so it was a pretty pleasant surprise at just how delicious and filling it was.

Places like Eastern Deli don’t stay in business for well over a decade unless they’re doing something right. Eastern Deli seems to do a lot of things right. The sandwiches are huge, made fresh, and really tasty. I don’t know how I’ve drove by this place for years and never stopped. It was just something that wasn’t on my radar but the neighborhood seems to love it.

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