The 7 Best Delis in St. Louis

       The spread at Protzel's. | Madelaine Azar

You know a true deli sandwich when you see one: thick slices of bread holding together, somehow, a tower of meats and cheeses stacked to perfection. You'll find these overstuffed delights not in the monotonous chain sub shops, but rather in tradition-rich and family-owned delis with old-school counters where a friendly face is waiting to take your order and start slicing. Luckily, St. Louis is home to several such places, and whether you're hankering for a Reuben, a helping of potato salad or sandwiches that flawlessly incorporate Provel cheese, our list of best delis can hopefully steer you in the right direction.

Protzel's Delicatessen
(7608 Wydown Boulevard, Clayton; 314-721-4445)

If it's your first time at Protzel's, you pretty much have to order the corned beef, made in-house and piled high on rye bread and covered with mustard -- served, of course, with a pickle. Since 1954 this family-owned establishment has been churning out a wide array of fresh deli meats and cheeses. Other than the corned beef, you can also try the knishes, potato salad, deviled eggs or fresh Jewish rye bread chips. Or shop around for European goodies, taffy and sweets -- three entire shelves are devoted to mustard! The full selection of sandwiches at Protzel's includes roast beef, pastrami, peppered beef, salami and bologna. The deli also offers specialty sandwiches, such as the "John Carney Special," with a third of a pound of corned beef and pastrami, Munchee cheese, honey mustard and coleslaw served on an onion roll.

See also:
Best Delicatessen - 2011

       Giola's Deli on The Hill. | Madelaine Azar

Gioia's Deli
(1934 Macklind Avenue; 314-776-9410)

Gioia's Deli began its life as a grocery store back in 1918 before transitioning to a deli, and thank goodness it did. Gioia's is now famous for its hot salami, or salam de testa: a thick, soft salami made from beef and -- yes -- pork snouts. The more familiar Italian meats are terrific, too, like the "Italian Trio," a dreamlike blend of mortadella and Genoa salami, peperoncini, onions and cheese on toasted garlic bread; or just grab a helping of "Cathy's Homemade Lasagna." End your meal with a sweet and generous serving of gelato.

See also:
- The Five Best (Cheap) Italian Restaurants in St. Louis

My Voice Nation Help

awful list.. sad old tired places like carl's and kopperman's.. and missing the best sandwich makers in the stl.. pickels deli


Went to Kopperman's after reading how it was a great NY style deli...well to say I was disappointed was an understatement.  Got a half corned beef sandwich and it was tiny.  Piled high meat? Please.  First and last time I ever went there.  Blues City Deli was OK but very average.  Nothing compared to good delis on the Hill. 

And where is Eovaldi's on this list?  Best deli sandwiches in the city.


Well, at least this was a better story than where to find the best french fries in St. Louis.  After that ground-breaking story I was expecting a follow up:  "Where to find the 7 best ranch dressings in St. Louis."

Although I might take issue with those on this list (Blues City - -which tries to mimic New Orleans neighborhood fare without really coming close) it is not a bad list. And although there may be unanimous agreement or disapproval, this was a much better food story.


Blues City Deli is unquestionably the most overrated deli in all of St. Louis. I mean, it's fine, but that line? Give me a break. LaGrande's easily has better sandwiches.

jcthelilly topcommenter

Good list.  Vivola Express in Maryland Heights is also very good.  Maybe we could have made this a top 10 list and included three more?  Why seven? 

Ladie Bugg
Ladie Bugg

Mmmmm corned beef on pumpernickel

Barry Bean
Barry Bean

Kopperman's Tongue Fu is a thing of beauty. I know what I want for lunch.

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