Eastbound and downtown
Sacramento, CA 95814
Sacramento’s food scene is something to behold.
Keeping up with new restaurants that seem to open almost weekly becomes a full-time job for diehard foodies. And yet, despite certain tasty trends establishing themselves, at times to excess, many gaps remain.
Solomon’s Delicatessen is a welcome departure from one of the more prolific restaurant styles of the moment—the traditional Jewish deli is de rigueur in New York and the East Coast, but rarely seen and often poorly executed in Northern California, usually in the form of a half-hearted bagel shop.
Solomon’s objective is two-fold, honoring classic East Coast flavors with modern flair while paying tribute to a local icon, the late Russ Solomon, founder of Tower Records.
The menu features all the Jewish deli standards, offering a variety of sandwiches, salads, soups and sides, in addition to house-made bagels and all-day breakfast, with a few modern twists. You’ll find challah French toast, a mushroom Reuben and a falafel corn dog. Gluten-free rye is available upon request. No member of your party will go hungry here for dietary reasons.
Inside a former Tower Records location on K Street mall at 8th, the restaurant’s interior aesthetic matches the restored psychedelic mural that adorns its entryway. Music is all around. And the pastrami sings, too.
The absolute standout of Solomon’s lunch menu is the Pastrami Sandwich ($15.99). The house-cured meat is transcendent in its tenderness. Rich, juicy, fall-apart-in-the-best-way bites are taken to the next level when Reubenized ($1.99 extra), adding subtlety sauerkraut, creamy Russian dressing and ooey-gooey Swiss cheese. Paired with the potato salad—the perfect balance of smooth and tang—this plate is emphatically a hit. Love songs have been penned about less fated couplings.
The bagels, unfortunately, are less of a banger. They’re not particularly dense or chewy, and lackluster in crunch when toasted. But when it comes to The Russ ($13.99), the lox strikes all the right chords—smoky, velvety and cool, jazz for the taste buds. The schmear, tomato, capers and pickled onions do their best to complement with acid and bite, but not distract from the real star of the show.
The matzo ball soup ($8.99) trumps any chicken noodle for its comfort value. Shredded white and dark chicken and thin slices of al dente carrot move languorously around two plump, spongy dumplings. The broth is clean and not overly salty; it’s a sleepy lullaby of a soup, humble but deserving of its place on the record.
Less traditional items seemed more out of tune: The Rudy ($13.99), a fried chicken sandwich on challah dressed with slaw, lacked the spiciness the menu claimed. The chicken was moist and well-cooked, the slaw original with its hint of oregano and the challah buttery and softly toasted. Yet it was altogether one-note and flat. Fried pickles ($5.99), an easy crowd favorite, were muted and mild in briny flavor, which would have been tolerable had they not gotten lost in a noisy pile of panko.
Solomon’s efforts to experiment are noble, but the deli’s greatest hits are the real crowd pleasers.