For a deli to impress us, it has to offer a lot, including just about every ingredient a customer can think of, as well as a decent number of its own signature sandwiches, salads, pastas and other sides. Here are the Top 5 delis in the Valley that never come up short.
1 Duck and Decanter
This is our favorite deli in Phoenix and we could eat the Vermont Treat every single day; made with maple-glazed ham, pinenuts, spinach, sliced apples and Duck and Decanter's famous cheddar cheese spread on multigrain, this sandwich is a treat indeed. In fact, we dream about it when we can't have it, that's how good it is. Though we have to admit, the Fiery Italian has been turning us on lately, made with smoked turkey breast, Genoa salami, provolone, tomatoes, Sicilian pepper relish, onions, spinach, mayo and spicy brown mustard on French bread -- yow! The sandwich is guaranteed to get you fired up during what would otherwise be your post-noon sleepy time. In addition to the many signature sandwiches, Duck and Decanter also makes custom sandwiches -- choose your own bread, meat and as many toppings as you like. The side salads and pastas here are delicious, too, and just as unique as the sandwiches, but fair warning: you'll probably be too full from your sandwich to enjoy them! There are three Duck and Decanter locations, but we're partial to the crowd on Camelback. (Be sure to beat the lunch crowd or else be ready to wait at the end of a very long line.)
Multiple locations web
2 The Deli
Roasted chicken breast with brie cheese, avocado, cucumber, greens and sweet and hot mustard on ciabatta; pastrami with housemade sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing on rye; ground beef sliders with lettuce, tomato, onion and special sauce on sea salt and thyme rolls ... Hungry yet? The Deli is one of the Valley's best-kept secrets, so you had better get in on this jewel of a sandwich shop before everyone else finds it! They serve a selection of signature warm and cold sandwiches, and you can also ask them to make your custom -- they have all the usual suspects when it comes to meats, cheese and other toppings, but you're really going to start salivating when it comes to their sauces: housemade mayo, caper mayo, red wine vinaigrette, dijon mustard, dijon mayo, lemon herb, tomato aioli, housemade ranch and more. The possibilities are endless -- and delicious. You can also enjoy deli snacks such as prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella, bruschetta and hummus, daily soup selections, salads, pastas, pizzas and sides such as potato salad, all made in-house. Check out their site for the impressive list of dinner selections and wines available by the glass or bottle.
18914 E. San Tan Blvd., Queen Creek, AZ 480.279.3546 web
3 DeFalco's Italian Deli and Grocery
Trust us when we say that you have not really lived until you've had a cheesesteak sandwich from DeFalco's. This hot sandwich, made with thinly sliced rib-eye and topped with melted cheese, fried peppers, onions, roasted red peppers and mushrooms, served on an Italian roll is completely worth the very long wait you'll have to endure at DeFalco's. Known for its famously long queue, the deli is small, but to consider that an indication of things to come would be a huge mistake. Do not turn back, friend. Good things will come. Though it's beyond us as to why anyone would order anything other than the cheesesteak sandwich at DeFalco's, the place also serves other excellent hot and cold sandwiches (the chicken pesto is an excellent choice), stuffed pastas, Italian specialties, pizza, salads, soups, sides and desserts. We love that they serve all their salads with hot focaccia bread, too. If you have any room left for dessert, you can't go wrong with a traditional cannoli. Buon appetito!
2334 N. Scottsdale Rd., Ste. A133, Scottsdale, AZ 480.990.8660 web
4 The Hero Factory
The Hero Factory makes our favorite hot eggplant parmigiana sandwich, as well as some more unique sandwiches, including the breaded cod filet and breaded shrimp combos. Signature "Heros," as the choices are called here, include the Crackerjack (cracked pepper turkey and melted pepper jack cheese with lettuce, tomato, onion and Russian dressing), Manhattan (roast beef oozing with melted mozzarella on toasted garlic bread), Skyline (chicken cutlet smothered in barbecue sauce and bleu cheese dressing with lettuce and tomato) and of course the Factory Special (cappicola, salami, pepperoni, and provolone with lettuce, tomato, onion, Italian seasonings and oil and vinegar), as well as many other mouthwatering favorites. The service is fast and friendly, and the portions are generous (very very generous), which tempt you to want to hit up The Hero Factory for dinner, too, but you're out of luck: Nicole's sandwich shop is only open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. We think the wait makes a trip to the Factory just that much more delicious.
114 W. Adams St., Ste. 102, Phoenix, AZ 602.254.6763 web
5 D'licious Dishes
D'licious Dishes manages to pull off a difficult feat; it's an upscale deli that still retains a laid-back neighborhood hangout quality to its atmosphere. We also love the place for its variety of specialty foods. In addition to hot and cold sandwiches (get the Muffaletta or the Beef & Bleu), you can also enjoy incredible made-to-order salads and unique sides such as roasted butternut squash, red beans and rice, maple acorn squash halves, double-stuffed potatoes and more. Specialty beers and fine wines are available for take-home with your food, and they also have a great selection of cheeses. Make D'licious Dishes your first call the next time you need a platter for an informal gathering; you can't go wrong with their Italian Antipasta, Sandwich Sampler, Salad Sampler, Cheese and Fruit or Caprese Salad platters. Our two favorites, however, are the Meatball -- their special turkey meatballs topped with your choice of barbecue, chipotle or marinara sauce; and the Lasagna -- layers of fresh pasta, three-cheese ricotta filling and roasted marinara sauce, plus your choice of Italian sausage, turkey bolognese or grilled eggplant. D'lish.
5345 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, AZ 602.274.3663 web