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Oy Vey!

East Side Kosher Deli got bigger. But that's not necessarily better.

East Side made the most of its sandwiches, too, which were piled high with great cold cuts in true Jewish-deli fashion. Mounds of extra-lean pastrami, tender homemade brisket, meaty beef tongue and smoked turkey came on quality bread ranging from marble or seeded rye to pumpernickel or whole wheat; lettuce, tomato and a kosher pickle, of course, were always included. Next to those sandwiches, East Side's take on kugel, the quintessential Jewish dish, was a real disappointment. The "pudding" part of this noodle pudding was nearly nonexistent, with hardly any fillings (apple and raisin in one, potato in another) to add flavor to the pasty, gummy noodles.

The further I veered from traditional deli fare, the worse the dishes became. Only if you'd never eaten real ravioli might you enjoy East Side's version: pasta pockets filled with spinach and topped with a marinara sauce that tasted like a tin can. The dull tempura vegetables were really just coated in panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) and fried. And while I had to give East Side credit for trying to internationally expand its captive audience's tastebuds, beef stir-fry reminiscent of La Choy didn't help anyone.

Since a few of the Mexican dishes worked, I have a feeling the Hispanic waitstaff may be offering the kitchen some tips. Proclaimed a "house favorite!" on the menu, the beef fajitas were indeed tasty. But the onions and green and red peppers that came with them were raw, and the guacamole was the gloppy, pre-packaged kind. (There are good versions of refrigerated guac, but this wasn't one of them.) More guacamole didn't help the smothered burrito, a hulking mass of salty ground beef smothered in a mildly spicy, slightly sweet red chile.

East Side Kosher Deli is a nice place to visit -- but you may not want to eat there.
Q Crutchfield
East Side Kosher Deli is a nice place to visit -- but you may not want to eat there.

Location Info

Map

East Side Kosher Deli

499 S. Elm St.
Denver, CO 80246

Category: Restaurant > Deli

Region: Southeast Denver

Details

303-322-9862
Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday
9 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday

Chicken noodle soup (bowl): $2.75
Pastrami sandwich: $7.75
Brisket sandwich: $7.25
Tongue sandwich: $7.75
Smoked turkey sandwich: $5.95
Rotisserie chicken: $11.95
Chicken marsala: $11.95
Spinach ravioli: $9.95
Tempura vegetables: $5.95
Beef stir-fry: $11.95
Kugel: $1.95
Fajitas: $11.95
Oriental salad: $9.95

499 South Elm Street

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The service was as uneven as the food. Once the place got packed, we had to stand in the aisles between tables in order to make a server hear our request for a Styrofoam container or the bill. Things weren't much better in the deli. Once, when I called with a takeout order, I made it clear I needed it at a certain time. East Side employees called back twice to clarify the order, all the while ensuring me that it would be ready. But when I arrived, the woman behind the counter said, "Oh, I just have to put in the order for Oriental salad; it'll take a minute." Ten minutes later, I could see kitchen employees wandering around getting themselves drinks and gazing at the display case -- but no Oriental salad. Finally, the woman looked at an employee who was just standing there. "Are you going to get the salad?" she asked. He sighed and nodded, then slowly ambled back to the kitchen. (The salad turned out to be a ridiculously overpriced mess of pre-cooked noodles tossed with cold grilled chicken, canned mandarin oranges and lettuce with a side of sesame dressing, all of which could have been assembled in about four minutes.)

The woman looked at me and smiled. "What can you do?" she asked. It was all I could do to keep from leaping over the counter and making the danged thing myself.

But I can do something that many of my neighbors can't: I can eat somewhere else.

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