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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Thrifty Foodie visits the Fifth Street Deli & Market

    Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The 5th Street Deli and Market on East 5th Street serves up a variety of kosher delicatessen items like the roasted turkey breast sandwich available on your choice of breads.
    Mike Christy
    Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The 5th Street Deli and Market on East 5th Street serves up a variety of kosher delicatessen items like the roasted turkey breast sandwich available on your choice of breads.

    An essential part of America’s food culture, the delicatessen is also a good place for the frugal minded foodie to frequent for lunch. One such place is Fifth Street Deli and Market.

    Standing at the northwest corner of Fifth Street and Rosemont Boulevard, this is one of the few places in Tucson to serve kosher foods from its deli counter. Formerly Feig’s under the care of Jack Strauss until 2008, the new owners, Gwen and Asher Amar, seem to have taken great measures to maintain the excellence of their predecessor.

    At lunchtime, it’s difficult to go wrong with any of the sandwiches at the deli counter, all of which are made to order. That said, what stood out from the crowd were the hot pastrami, extra lean corned beef and chopped liver.

    Fifth Street Deli’s pastrami on rye – a classic combination – was fabulous ($9.50 for the full sandwich combo). The bread had the distinct flavor of rye without coming on too strong. The chewy interior and hearty crust provided a lovely contrast to the tender pastrami.

    Preparing pastrami is a labor of love. A hunk of beef, usually brisket, is first cured in either a dry rub or spiced brine for up to two weeks and frequently turned. The beef is then dried for two days before being smoked. When ready, it is rinsed to get rid of excess salt and then cooked in simmering water for up to two hours. The pastrami is then thinly sliced and, at Fifth Street Deli, piled high into a mountainous tribute to humanity’s ingenuity of meat preservation. Slather with deli mustard on top, you’ve reached the pinnacle of Fifth Street Deli’s sandwiches.

    Of course, the deli offered other great sandwiches along the way. One such sandwich was the extra lean corned beef ($7.25 for the half sandwich combo). The corned beef had a satisfying warmth to it and struck a good balance between spicy and salty without tiring the taste buds. Even with less fat, the corned beef had a surprisingly tender chewiness that made each bite a gratifying one.

    For the more adventurous, there was the chopped liver sandwich ($7.50 for the full sandwich combo). Just hearing the words “”chopped liver”” can conjure a vision of a cleaver attacking a pile of livers, and it may be enough to make most people grimace and pass on this particular sandwich. But then they would miss out on Fifth Street Deli’s delectable version of this much-maligned, oft-misunderstood organ meat.

    From ground livers (of which chicken, calves or cows can be used) sautéed onions and hardboiled eggs arises a whole that is greater than the parts. The flavor of the liver came through distinctly and clearly, but it was tempered by the eggs, onions and spices. When topped with the strong flavor of sliced, raw red onion, the sandwich was transformed yet again into a food that is reserved for the joyous occasion – perhaps the new happy meal.

    The only downside to this particular sandwich was the portion size. Since liver is already a rich food on its own – think foie gras – having a generous serving of the chopped liver worked against the full sandwich. (This is where your courageous dining companion comes to the rescue.)

    Each sandwich combo came with a pickle and a side of macaroni salad, potato salad or coleslaw. The pickles had a satisfying crunch and saltiness in each bite. The macaroni salad had a lovely creamy texture to them while the potato salad had tender potatoes and hardboiled eggs wrapped in a dressing that featured a nice balance between sweet, salty and spicy.

    Dining in is recommended. Service was quick and the servers were mindful of plate presentation, which was a pleasant surprise given the casual, relaxed feel of the place. On recent visits, many customers turned out to be regulars of Feig’s and were coming back in groups and pairs to taste Fifth Street Deli’s fare. Here was a sure sign of the quality of its food: Seeing a rabbi hand feed his grandchild a piece of bread, smiles spread across their faces.

    The next time you’re looking to satiate your noshing needs, consider a visit to Fifth Street Deli and Market.

    Fifth Street Deli & Market

    5071 E. Fifth Street



    Monday through Thursday

    8 a.m. – 7 p.m.,

    Friday and Sunday

    8 a.m. – 3 p.m.,

    Closed Saturdays

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