Midwest Living Review
Manhattan Deli is a nothing-fancy, cash-only lunch spot that sticks to a winning formula of great ingredients, a tried-and-true menu and a we're-all-in-this together family feel behind the counter. As soon as you open the door, you can smell the fresh deli meats and cheeses, the marinating Italian beef and the huge dill pickles. Did we mention the fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies, the 7-layer bars and the fudgy brownies topped with frosting and coated on the bottom with confectioner's sugar?The owner makes sandwiches behind the counter and heats them up in a microwave before his brother steps up to a mike and calls out the customers by name when their orders are ready. The owner's mom bakes the goodies and works the register. You can create your own sandwiches here, or go with one of the options on the extensive menu behind the refrigerator cases of meats (until recently, that was a white write-on, wipe-off board, but the deli has since upgraded to an actual printed sign). Top-selling sandwiches include the Italian beef, the Vito (Italian meats and cheeses) and the Zack Johnson (ham, pepperJack cheese and onions and named for the PGA tour golfer who golfed at Des Moines' Drake University). You can get a 6-inch sandwich, plus a fountain drink and a side of potato salad or a cookie for less than $9. The bread if fresh-baked, pure white and amazingly soft and good.The place is only open from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, and if you go right at noon, you'll wait. And wait. And wait. You can call your order ahead and skip the line and head straight to the register. Or just go at 1 p.m., and you'll walk right up and order. The restaurant has about a dozen booths and serves its sandwiches in red plastic baskets lined with waxed paper. It's not fancy, but the food is great, and you inevitably leave feeling good that you're supporting this friendly business-owning family.