A lunch rush

Newman’s grilled Reuben, like most of the deli’s sandwiches, is classic, straight-forward goodness between two slices of bread.

Newman’s grilled Reuben, like most of the deli’s sandwiches, is classic, straight-forward goodness between two slices of bread.

Photo By David Robert

Newman’s Deli

20 California Ave.
Reno, NV 89509

(775) 348-8884

Newman’s Deli has long been a favored locals’ I was excited to finally try it and was supposed to meet my friend Laura there at 11:30 a.m., but I overslept. By the time I woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head, and looked up and noticed I was late, it was already 11:28. I pictured Laura sitting outside, glancing at her watch, uncomfortable in the blinding heat, no doubt being accosted by some freak that had wandered from downtown or, worse yet, from the copy store next door.

I got there at 11:55. Laura was sitting outside, glancing at her watch, being accosted by some freak from the copy store.

I’m not sure the point of this preamble other than to demonstrate my bad time management, which makes for a nice contrast with Newman’s—a cozy machine of efficient service. The lunch rush is like the day of the locusts. As soon as we walked in, we were swept up in the ordering line like calves in a stampede. In order to accommodate this thronging horde, the staff works with energetic enthusiasm. Our orders were taken with excitement by a perky young woman in a “Nevada Greek” T-shirt. After the meal, they sweep up the dirty dishes while you’re still chewing the last bite.

The fast pace might not be conducive to engrossing conversation, but it’s great if you’re looking for a quick, tasty lunch. We both had grilled sandwiches: the chicken avocado ($5.95) for Laura and the grilled Reuben ($5.45) for me. Laura wolfed hers down in a very unladylike display of hunger and satisfaction. I lingered over mine, enjoying the pastrami, the tart sweetness of the sauerkraut and the delightful “Russian” sauce composed of three magical ingredients: mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard.

These are simple, straightforward, classic deli sandwiches—but done right. They’re made with quality ingredients and meats so freshly sliced you can still hear the blade whizzing through them.

Halfway through the meal, I noticed a man sitting across the room with a huge glob of mayonnaise dangling comically from his beard. Laura couldn’t see him from her seat, so I suggested she get me a soda refill and scope him out on the way. She was never able to get a good look but did get me the soda refill, which made me feel like a lazy conman and made her feel like a sucker.

The walls at Newman’s are covered with New York Yankees memorabilia, which amplifies the ambience of a bustling big-city deli. In addition to the sandwiches, they do subs, breakfast specials, soups and salads, and they have catering and delivery services. But they specialize in basic sandwiches done at their fresh, messy best and friendly service so quick that, if you aren’t totally awake, you might miss it.