Rye isn’t your grandma’s deli—there are no warped floors, jammed tables, and loud counter guys; no hefty loaves of pumpernickel or shaved mounds of corned beef; no gribenes or much of the old-timey Jewish stuff we love to love. Got that. So, what is it? Rye is a sunny spot for breakfast or lunch with a cozy bar, and it lights up the old Auriga space, which was left achingly dark for far too long.
Breakfast brings a bonanza of French toast, egg scrambles, omelets, and, yes, bacon (go figure). The bagels are light and airy (too much so for my tastes), but the lox is fine.
For lunch, the fresh tarragon chicken salad or turkey sandwich with tangy lemon aioli does the trick. Beware of the chopped liver, borscht, and pickles—they still need work. Rye’s smoked meat (aka pastrami) is hand-cut into thick, flavorful, but clumsy chunks that slide out of the sandwich with each bite, so go ahead and kvetch about whether deli meat should be machine-sliced thin. Finish up with a tender, old-fashioned black-and-white cookie or those tiny, flaky cinnamon and sugar–dusted rugelach (get more than one).
Come evening, head right to the bar and mix with the tweedy Kenwood crowd, younger versions in tight jeans, and tattooed 20-somethings who stroll in from the apartments around. Sip a solid Manhattan or the house Fiddler on the Juice, made with kosher brandy (holy water?). Meet a nice Jewish beer like HeBrew Messiah Bold, or find solace in the selection of reasonably priced wines by the glass.
If you feel the need to define Rye, let me give you a bit of context: It’s a neighborhood spot. With its gleaming white tile, street-facing windows, and requisite cases of salads and meats, it’s a casual place to eat in or take out with a friendly bar, and it’s a fine place to meet. Rye Delicatessen and Bar, 1930 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-871-1200, ryedeli.com