Smallman vs. Pamela’s: The victor in breakfast?
Living in the “City of Champions” sometimes requires the breakfast of champions. Smallman Street Deli in Squirrel Hill, a kosher-style Jewish deli, is a great place for all meals, but their standout specialty is their breakfast. Whether it is pancakes, Crunchy French Toast, or the omelets, everyone walks away happy.
According to the employees, the most popular breakfast item is the Crunchy French Toast. The Challah bread is coated in a “crispy” mixture, dipped in the egg batter and grilled to a perfect golden brown. With a little syrup, this stuff is unbeatable. The little crunch on the top is followed by a warm, soft inside. No flavor is overpowered by another and it leaves the perfect aftertaste. It is easy to see why this is a customer favorite.
Among the other favorites are omelets, lox, and the two specials. The Murray Ave. Breakfast Special comes with two eggs, choice of breakfast meat (including corned beef or pastrami), hash browns, toast, and coffee. The Forbes Ave. Breakfast Special is identical except for the addition of pancakes or regular French toast. It is the perfect combination of carbs and proteins to start your day off right. Come hungry and/or hung over and you will be very pleased.
Aside from breakfast, the lunches make it a popular stop for businessmen, students, and regulars. They have dozens of sandwich meats to choose from, making decisions difficult. A customer favorite is the Reuben, which many consider to be better than that from New York City. The food is so good at Smallman Street Deli that it won first place for best deli in Pittsburgh magazine’s 2009 Reader Poll.
The menu is modeled after the old Weinstein’s Deli that used to reside on Murray Avenue. The owners Bill Wedner and Jeff Cohen had a pretty good idea of what people wanted; their goal was to bring people back to their childhood memories of going to the deli. In fact, the slogan of Smallman Street Deli is “deli the way it used to be.” They opened the original Smallman Street Deli in late 2000 on Smallman Street in the Strip District as a way to sell some of the products from their meat packing plant. Not expecting much success, it was a pleasant surprise when the lunchtime crowd made it one of the most popular places in the Strip District. Feeling the need to expand, they opened the second (and much larger) location in Squirrel Hill in 2005. Ever since, it has been a staple of the community, known for its great food and friendly atmosphere.
There are no frills about this place. The menu is written on a giant chalkboard that hangs over the deli counter that runs along the side of the restaurant and around to the eat-in counter.
There is no point in ignoring the elephant down the street. So here is a list of why someone should choose Smallman Street Deli over Pamela’s:
- There is ample seating and you never have to wait for a table.
- You don’t feel like a walking stick of butter after having their pancakes.
- They sell six-packs of beer.
- Nearly all products are made here in Pittsburgh or shipped fresh from New York City.
- Students get 10 percent off any and all items (except the beer).