Deli at Webster Street

I’ve had a deli-ache since I moved to Dayton, and the only thing that will make me feel better is a really outstanding Reuben. So with this in mind, I headed to The Deli at Webster Street. The renovated warehouse building that houses The Deli also houses The Top of the Market Banquet Center. The building itself sits directly behind the Second Street Market and shares a parking lot. Additional rooms upstairs and down from the main floor offer attractive spaces featuring exposed brick walls, parking and a lovely outdoor city view from an upper deck patio for weddings and meetings. The Deli’s dining room interior also features that same rustic charm with high vaulted ceilings, hardwood floors, brick and natural lighting. The space has a nice look and feel to it, as my fellow City Paper crew and I remarked upon entering.

The usual sub-spects
My Paper Pals and I grabbed a table as we waited for everyone to arrive. It’s a seat-yourself place with a walk-up-and-order counter. A thoughtful staff person came to make sure we knew that there wasn’t table service. Our wait gave us time to study the menus provided at each table plus see the daily specials posted behind the counter. The Deli’s menu offers create-your-own sandwiches ($7.99) and covers a lot of delicatessen standards like the club sandwich and Reuben. They’ve also got a fish, Philly cheese steak sub, Italian sub, grilled cheese and chicken, egg and tuna salad. Soups, chili, burgers and a selection of salads, offered in half and whole portions (a great idea), round out the menu. We settled on a selection of soups, salads and sandwiches to try as much of a variety as we could.

Not dressed for success
The soup I tried was the lobster bisque ($4.49), while my Paper Pal tried the chili ($3.49). We found the soup good though a little on the salty side, but were happy the meaty chili came topped with lots of cheese and onions. The salads (priced between $3.49 half – $7.96 whole) unfortunately turned out to be a bust. Though the ingredients for each were fresh and plentiful, the Cobb being especially nice looking, I cannot accept a salad at that price served with dressing packets (or any price frankly—dressing is not that hard to make in-house). A Greek or a Caesar with a dressing packet (and not any Greek- or Caesar-flavored)? No. Just no. As for the other sides, they ranked only fair. I like that the deli chips are house-made, but for my money, they could be saltier. The biggest disappointment was that the waffle fries were coated, something I always find produces an unpleasant processed chemical aftertaste.
The fish basket ($8.29) featured two pieces of Guinness-battered cod with deli chips, kale slaw and tartar sauce. The pieces were small with a crunchy coating as opposed to a more fluffy beer batter, but not unpleasant. Noticing the menu statement “Now proudly serving Guinness Distinctive Seafood” prompted a web search that explained the texture. This fish arrives pre-coated, part of a new marketing effort by the Guinness brand to sell Guinness-battered seafood.
Another Paper Pal tried the triple-decker club ($7.99) and gave it an average grade. The table favorite might have been the burger, served on a kaiser roll with deli chips. This one was a western style ($7.89), topped with cheddar cheese bacon and BBQ sauce. Other burger options included the black-n-blue with blue cheese and blackened spice, the mushroom-n-Swiss or bacon cheeseburger ($7.79-7.89)

It’s all about that beef
Let’s cut to the chase on the Reuben, since it was the reason for my visit. What makes a good Reuben? It’s all about the corned beef. Good corned beef—first cut brisket pickled in brine and spices like bay leaves, coriander, chili flakes and garlic—should be firm, shaved thin and well laced with fat. (There is NO SUCH THING as lean corned beef or pastrami. It doesn’t exist.) Unfortunately, the best corned beef is dry cured, which takes time, so most corned beef is soaked or injected with brine. And the result is not close to the real deal. I want my Reuben to have a mountain of meat between the caraway-flecked slices of rye, with pungent sauerkraut and the sweetness of Thousand Island crowning that meaty glory. Sadly, The Deli’s sandwich fell a little short of that description. And it was served without the requisite Thousand Island dressing.
All in all, The Deli at Webster Street has enough to recommend it as a pleasant, attractive lunch spot if you are looking for a quick place to grab lunch, as long as your expectations are limited to an average sandwich and maybe a cup of chili or soup. Just don’t forget to bring your own dressing if you order a salad.

The Deli at Webster Street is located at 32 Webster St. in Dayton. For more information, please call 937.224.3663 or visit

Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at

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