In New York and New Jersey, corner delis are commonplace. In fact, I think most would be hard pressed to find a decent sized town that doesn’t have at least one corner deli. Through out the Midwest the deli as it is known on the East Coast is nearly nonexistent. Sure, there are Subway stores and Jimmy John’s will even deliver to your door and most grocery stores serve cold cuts and bread, but Shapiro’s Deli fills a valuable space in the widening Indianapolis Sandwich-Gap.
The initial ambiance inside Shapiro’s is one of vastness and order. It is very open and fluorescent. There are aluminum railings and grated shelves directing customers where to go: left for the bakery and right for the cafeteria. The steel and plastic beige and tan colored chairs are arranged like the seating area of a highway rest stop ensuring that no matter how large the crowd (Shapiro’s is located within walking distance of Lucas Oil Stadium) there will never be a shortage of seating. The matching polycarbonate self-service trays and drab brown floors are as uninspiring as they are austere providing an atmosphere that seems as purposefully uninviting as the public seating inside of a bus station (or a prison) with the cleanliness to match. While I consider Shapiro’s a generally unpleasant place to dine-in, the food is, as it should be, its redeeming offering.
The decorum is underwhelming but what Shapiro’s offers in terms of sandwich quality is impressive. The Pastrami on (House-Baked) Rye is something to write home about. Hearty cuts of pastrami with unbelievably thin slices of Swiss cheese that instantly melt in your mouth. The mustard is very mild and if you want to taste it you will have to order extra (if you order mustard on the side they serve good-sized portion) but regardless of your condiment preference the best part about this sandwich is the house-made rye bread. It is light and soft in the middle and quickly becomes chewy and dense as it approaches the thick and crackling outer crust. This bread alone is worth checking out and is available in the Shapiro’s bakery section alongside a mix of other breads, bagels, cakes, and desserts.
The side dishes are potentially an afterthought and are seemingly not given much attention. The Matzoh balls give off a taste of stale polenta and are far too solid in the center (bring a knife) with a simple, salty broth. The deviled eggs are equally lackluster.
808 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225