La Perla Deli

Chilequiles

Quesadilla

Nachos con queso

Interior

Exterior

**** (4 stars)

This is a small, well-run restaurant that offers table service food, with a fairly extensive menu of home-cooked classics. Counter service to-go food is also available.

Nachos con queso were served with plenty of jalapenos, but I’d rather they’d left off the refried beans, which I don’t think were mentioned on the menu.

Our favorite item was the chilaquiles, which were served with a very savory green sauce. The house-made chips really made a difference. I also liked the simple but flavorful rice.

Service was friendly, and prices are reasonable.

La Perla Deli
608 S Dillard St
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 905-0440
http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-perla-deli-winter-garden

Jersey Mike’s Subs

** (2 stars)

I’ll confess I’m not a huge sub sandwich fan. I love sandwiches, but I regard subs as the bottom level of sandwich quality.

They used to be even worse, when Subway was the only game in town, but then Quizznos forced them to raise the bar with more breads and toasted options. Then Quizznos was forced out of our area by Jimmy John’s which specialized in speed of assembly, and Firehouse, which introduced better ingredients.

That leave Jersey Mikes in a neverland. They don’t have Firehouse’s quality or Jimmy John’s speed. They don’t even have Subway’s variety of bread.

What they do have–at this location, anyway–is a nice outside eating area that attracts a breeze to cool things off, even in summer.

The pastrami sub I had, prepared the default way, was pretty flavorless. But perhas the addition of some mustard and peppers could zest it up. Still, with a Firehouse a few blocks away, I’d probably go there instead.

Jersey Mike’s Subs
6700 Conroy Rd
Ste 100A
Orlando, FL 32835
(407) 445-6453
https://www.yelp.com/biz/jersey-mikes-subs-orlando-8

Alberto’s Cheese & Wine Bistro

***** (5 stars)

This little gem in the Farmer’s Market section of the French Market offers just two seats at the counter and four tables across the aisle. The muffulettas are huge, and stuffed with a mild olive salad, served on excellent crunchy bread. The cheese plates–available with three or five cheeses–feature your choice of top quality cheeses, and are served with grilled bread and crackers. The spinach salad is huge, and may be one of the most healthful choices in all of the French Quarter. Service is very friendly.

Alberto’s Cheese & Wine Bistro
1100 N Peters St
Bay 11
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 522-0507
http://www.yelp.com/biz/albertos-cheese-and-wine-bistro-new-orleans

NYC Bagel Deli

**** (4 stars)

Here’s a popular place for New York style food, from bagels to pizzas to sandwiches. I was there for an authentic deli sandwich, and I left satisfied.

My choice was hot pastrami on rye with swiss cheese. The tender pastrami was piled high, but not so ridiculously high that it was impossible to eat, like many in NYC are. I liked the addition of cucumber slices and onion to the yellow mustard and mayo.

It came with a giant dill pickle and some rather granular potato salad I didn’t care for; next time I’ll pick a different side item.

The place has only two tables, so arrive early or expect to get your sandwich to go.

NYC Bagel Deli
515 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 923-9999
http://www.yelp.com/biz/nyc-bagel-deli-chicago-3

Manny’s

**** (4 stars)

This is an excellent choice for a quick sandwich at Midway. Even if you’re flying out of terminal B, it’s only a short walk down terminal A.

Manny’s is essentially a fully equipped delicatessen, so the sandwich you’ll get here will be far above normal airport quality. Each is prepared to order, so allow few extra minutes, but it’s worth it.

There is more seating available back at the juncture of terminal A with terminal B, a place the visitors to the nearby food court rarely find.

Manny’s
Chicago Midway International Airport
Concorse A, 5700 S Cicero Ave
Chicago, IL 60638
(773) 948-6300
http://www.yelp.com/biz/mannys-chicago-2

Bongiorno’s Italian Deli & Pizzeria

**** (4 stars)

This homey little counter service Italian place off the lobby of River View Plaza is a great spot for lunch or dinner.

The price for a ten inch pizza is great, and it has a very authentic crust such as you’d get in Napoli.

You can get any kind of pasta with any kind of sauce, but I haven’t yet found a combination that excites me, although the serving size is large enough for two or more.

I do like the Caesar salad, which isn’t tossed, but has a tasty dressing.

And the very best item is the garlic bread, a generous serving with lots of garlic butter, fixed in the pizza oven so the edges have a slight char.

There’s a pleasant outside patio where you can enjoy the view of the Trump tower–if you look straight up.

Bongiorno’s Italian Deli & Pizzeria
405 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 755-1255
http://www.yelp.com/biz/bongiornos-italian-deli-and-pizzeria-chicago

Melange

**** (4 stars)

I was very impressed by this creative concept. At first it does look like a CiCi’s pizza, with its salad and pizza buffet.

But the real treat is at the back, where you can get a sandwich, panini, pizza or ice cream with virtually any combination of ingredients you can imagine, made to order. For sandwiches alone, with about a dozen breads, a dozen meats, and a dozen toppings, there are a lot of possibilities.

You can order at the counter, but it’s fun to use the two touchscreens to assemble exactly what you want. Then it’s promptly made and delivered to your table. I selected rye bread, ham, turkey, swiss, fat free mayo and banana peppers. The sandwich turned out great, and all the ingredients were fresh and delicious. It was accompanied by a very tasty and zesty potato salad.

This is a great place for families, because there’s something for everyone, but it’s also one of the better places in town to get a sandwich, and I’d actually rate it above any of the sub shops and delis in the area. In fact, the only thing I didn’t like about it is the bright fluorescent lighting.

And at $7.99 for lunch, it’s hard to imagine a better deal.

Melange
8261 S John Young Pkwy
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 704-3821
http://www.yelp.com/biz/melange-orlando

Foodstuffs

**** (4 stars)

I’m not sure whether to call this a grocery story, a gourmet shop or a bakery, because it’s all three and more. The meats are particularly good here, with good steaks; fish is pretty good, too. Oh, and the hot dogs from the deli case are the best I’ve had anywhere, perfect for a 4th of July BBQ. I also always get some bread. They have a great variety, and the employees are a hundred times nicer than they are at the bakery down the street.

Foodstuffs
2106 Central St
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 328-7704
http://www.yelp.com/biz/foodstuffs-evanston

Au Bon Pain

*** (3 stars)

This is one of the better places to grab something to take on a plane with you. The sandwiches are made to order (if you’re willing to wait in a fairly sluggish line) and the ingredients are fresh, especially the breads. If you’re in a hurry, the prepackaged sandwiches in the front case are actually quite decent. It certainly beats a bag of peanuts.

Au Bon Pain
9202 Jeff Fuqua Blvd
Orlando, FL 32827
(407) 825-7851
http://www.yelp.com/biz/au-bon-pain-orlando-2