Of the three last standing purveyors of corned beef on Baltimore’s once famous Corned Beef Row, Weiss Deli is probably the least popular. It is the oldest looking, has the fewest staff and has a no frills cafeteria feel. It lacks the posh of Attman’s and the variety of Lenny’s. Most of the time the case in front looks like it was just turned on, has only a few offerings and if anything the line that wraps to the door is slow and uncomfortably close to the guys outside asking for money.
Here are some of the descriptions that you might find online:
“When I entered Lenny’s the place was presentable and had good lighting. When I entered Weiss I told myself to smile and not offend anyone so I wouldn’t get shanked in the darkness.”
“The husband and wife who run Weiss look like they’ve been unhappily married for thirty years. Calling the shop a dump would be an understatement. It’s dark and dingy and no matter how many people are crammed in, the building just feels abandoned.”
“Sometimes the crowd here can be a bit much, kinda like waiting in the free cheese line, or really loud annoying people on their lunch break ordering eight sandwiches to take back to the office. I’ve waited over 20 minutes in line here for food. So you have to steel up and be brave.”
But in true Baltimore Food Chronicle fashion, these comments drew me in like a moth to a flame. In fact, Weiss is so unassuming I missed it the first few times I even visited Corned Beef Row. It was the last of the three I tried, and honestly I’ve never gone back to the others. Despite these criticisms however, each of these Yelpers gave Weiss very good reviews.
But oh baby, it is my favorite. The meat is super juicy and thick, and has a savory corned beef taste that the others just don’t have. Don’t get me wrong, I love them all. Attman’s, Lenny’s, Miller’s, Edmart, Taneytown. But when I want a freaking huge pile of dripping hot corned beef slopped on some bread I crave this place.
I originally didn’t realize you could order a “large”. So one day I did. And I never stopped. Commence food porn:
I recently met a very nice elderly Black lady who told me she had been coming to Weiss since she was a little girl, when it was still a Jewish neighborhood. She told me about how at so many of the markets back in the day, in addition to buying sandwiches they could also pick out a live chicken and have it killed and skinned right there. I easily imagined that happening right there in Weiss. In some ways, I feel this deli retains some of that old world feel (though I have no reason to think that necessarily, I know nothing about the old Jewish neighborhoods), but they are one of the only places I know of that regularly has cod cakes. If you have never had them, they are like crab cakes but made of cod since some Jews do not eat crab. But they are a little salty.
They also have Cloak & Daggers (with cole slaw and Russian dressing), and hot dogs fried with bologna wrapped around them, which I realized is not uncommon in Baltimore.
Weiss is a favorite for the regulars, the locals. And not all the online comments are bad.
“The real killer here are the coddies, a vanishing Baltimore institution. Leaden deepfried cod and potato patties seasoned heavily with Old Bay, served between crackers with a splash of mustard. They’re a relic of a vanished Jewish community that couldn’t touch those unkosher crabcakes. These are the best I’ve had in Baltimore, and I’ve had a lot. Ignore the lines at Attman’s and the polish at Lenny’s. Come here for some lean corned beef and coddies.”
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