“Don’t judge a book by its cover” ~ old English idiom
I probably drove by the Community Deli (901 Oberlin Rd., Raleigh, N.C.) a thousand times before finally stopping in a couple of weeks ago. The building itself is fairly nondescript – nothing really special to entice me to try it. Community Deli is close to Cameron Village Shopping Center, so if I’m hungry, I usually go to one of the many good restaurants there. But I kept noticing the daily special sign, with sandwiches, burgers or hot dogs at great prices. So I finally decided to give it a try and have been back several times in the past couple of weeks for the good deli food and the friendly, friendly service.
The interior of the Community Deli is nothing special – a couple of coolers full of drinks and beer, some soda machines, deli cases, the counter where you order and a small pub table with no chairs that is stuck in a corner. There are a couple of tables outside that have umbrellas, which I occasionally see occupied on nice days. Parking is minimal, but I’ve always been able to find a space on Van Dyke Ave.
You place your order with the extremely nice people behind the counter, and then wait for your name to be called. Even though the food is made to order, I’ve never had to wait long.
My favorite sandwich so far is the “Piled High BLT” ($3.69), which has lots of nice crispy bacon. I got mine on rye toast, and yes, it was piled high. Go on Tuesdays and it’s only $2.99.
On “Wiener Wednesdays” you can get a hot dog with mustard, chili and onions for $1.00. Yep, $1.00. The chili is really good.
The BBQ pork sandwich ($3.49 regularly, $3.00 on Thursdays) is eastern-style barbecue piled high on a soft bun, with optional slaw that is tasty. I actually got this on a Monday, when cheeseburgers made from fresh, hand-pattied ground beef are on special for $2.65. The place was packed with people ordering the burgers, which I will definitely try in the future.
I’ve also tried the Cajun Chicken Sandwich ($4.59, except on Fridays when it’s $3.79). This sandwich is good, but I think it could use some more heat. It comes with lettuce and tomato on a nice, fresh bun.
Sides to the sandwiches are extra, and include seasoned fries that look and smell awesome (I haven’t tried them yet), onion rings, fried okra or chips.
Community Deli also serves breakfast all day and offers a variety of sandwiches, biscuits, bagels and English muffins as well as breakfast plates and omelets. You can even get fried bologna with egg and/or cheese. So far all I’ve only tried the country ham biscuit ($2.99), which was good with nice, salty ham – a nice way to start the day.
While the sandwiches and biscuits are good, my favorites at Community Deli are the homemade seasonal soups ($3.29 for a 12-ounce cup). The chicken pastry soup is yummy and thick. Just add some salt and pepper and you’re ready to go. This goes great with the BBQ sandwich.
The Veggie Beef soup is thick and full of a variety of vegetables and ground beef – it hits the spot on a cold day.
The Brunswick stew is delicious and has shredded chicken, chunks of tomato, corn, limas, green beans, peas and potatoes. Wonderful flavors, and better than many Brunswick stews I’ve had in BBQ joints.
My favorite soup so far has been the chicken gumbo soup, which is out of this world. It has chicken, tomatoes, okra and seasonings. When I first saw it I was a bit skeptical since it didn’t have any rice in it, but once I started eating it, the rice was not missed at all. The only thing this soup needs is a spoon in it!
The Community Deli has been around since 1973, and is open Monday through Friday from 7 am to 5 pm, and on Saturday from 8 am to 3 pm. Call-ahead orders are welcome (919.896.6810) and the deli accepts Visa and MasterCard. And don’t forget about the daily specials.
If you have not visited The Community Deli for breakfast or lunch, do so next time you are near Cameron Village. It is definitely a great little neighborhood gem!
- Price: Excellent, especially the daily specials.
- Service: 5:0. Superb! Everyone is so nice and friendly.
- Food: 4.0. Nothing fancy, just tasty, good, Southern deli food.
- Recommend: Absolutely.
- Kid friendly: Only if you can grab one of the few tables outside since there’s no inside seating.
1= hater, 2=poor, 3=adequate, 4=above average, 5=superb
Eat, drink and be merry!
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