Just east of downtown Baltimore is a 107-year-old family-owned Jewish deli that has celebrities, presidents, and long lines of locals and tourists stopping by to try their overstuffed sandwiches.
Attman’s Delicatessen was recommended by Baltimore Banner reader George Waldhauser, who said the restaurant “has the best corned beef anywhere.” In my continued series Ask Charm City Table, where I try your favorite restaurants and offer my own dining recommendations, I revisited the deli for an early weekday lunch.
The inside of Attman’s tells the story of Baltimore and the business itself. The walls are adorned with photos and newspaper clippings from the early 20th century to the present, featuring landmarks of the city and noteworthy moments in the deli’s history, such as when President Jimmy Carter visited and posed alongside owner Seymour Attman. Opposite the deli counter is a seating area known as the “Kibbitz Room.”
The menu is seemingly endless when it comes to sandwich options. While Attman’s is best known for corned beef, pastrami and hot dogs, there’s also shrimp salad, tuna salad, chicken and turkey options. Soups including Maryland Crab and sides like french fries are on offer.
I had trouble narrowing down my choices until I looked over the counter to see a much smaller menu titled, “Top 10 of the last 100.” Since Waldhauser recommended their corned beef, I skipped the pastrami and hot dogs this time and ordered the #2 Cloak and Dagger on rye bread, a dill pickle, and a bag of plain Utz potato chips.
A Cloak and Dagger is a corned beef (sometimes pastrami) sandwich with coleslaw and Russian dressing. Attman’s Deli makes a version twice the size of any I have seen and claims they are the original creators of the sandwich. As the deli operator sliced the corned beef for my order, he handed me the first thin slice to sample and make sure the cut and taste were to my liking. He then stacked layers onto the slices of rye dressed with slaw and sauce. Biting into this sandwich proved to be somewhat of a challenge, but it was worth it.
The corned beef was chewy and salty, but not overwhelmingly so. The saltiness of the meat was muted a bit by the creaminess of the slaw and Russian dressing. And the sandwich paired well with a perfectly crunchy, briny pickle, and the familiar, crisp Utz chips. I usually go for a Reuben sandwich, which has sauerkraut instead of coleslaw, but will consider the Cloak and Dagger when wanting a less sharp taste.
If you cannot get to Baltimore’s beloved “Corned Beef Row” to try Attman’s, there is another location in Potomac, Maryland, at 12505 Park Potomac Avenue.
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