#201: Roundhouse Deli

Roundhouse Deli is a tiny little breakfast/lunch spot on Church Street right across from the Union Pacific rail yard engine maintenance facility.  It’s been around for a long time, 35 years or something like that.  Recently, however, it has come under new ownership and, after a brief closure, is back to work serving up breakfast, deli sandwiches and Mexican cuisine.  Somehow, I’ve never been here.  I decided early this morning that today was the day and had a small lunch in anticipation.  They close at 5PM M-F so I was plenty hungry by the time 3:45 rolled around and I pulled up.

There is no parking lot but a lot of room on both sides of Church Street to park.  I took the above picture a while back when they were closed, but when they are open they have a couple of small tables and umbrellas set up outside where you can sit and eat.  Inside was actually a bit larger than I had expected.  I wasn’t even really sure if there would be seating on the inside until then.  Indeed there was though, and a decent amount of it, considering the size of the place.  I sat in the far back corner, so what you see in the photo is pretty much 90% of the space.  The only thing you can’t see is a series of large coolers, like you’d find in a convenience store, which had a large selection of bottled beverages.

I had planned for quite some time, even before they reopened, to have a reuben when I finally visited.  Unfortunately I did not see one on their menu.  It’s a pretty basic one, a handful of deli-type sandwiches and sides along with breakfast burritos and sandwiches.  I ended up deciding on a simple hot pastrami [$6.99] and a side of fries [$1.99].  I also ordered a fountain drink which must have been just over a dollar as the total was $10.79.  As I paid the cashier told me that the pastrami came with mustard only, but they could add produce if I wanted.  I said to go ahead and add lettuce and onions.  I took my seat by the coolers and waited while I listened to some sounds coming from the kitchen and the TV.  There were a couple of guys that had just finished eating when I arrived and they were getting up to leave as I sat down.  A few minutes later, just before my food was ready, a couple came in, then another, and some more.  They had a bit of a rush there for a while up until I left.  Good to see for a little place like this off the beaten path.

It was maybe just over 5 minutes from when I ordered when I saw my sandwich and fries being assembled on a tray up at the counter with napkins and my drink.  I got up to grab it and the gentleman who I think made my food asked me if I ended anything else.  I grabbed at a red bottle that looked like it was probably ketchup which turned out to be mostly empty and he reached under the counter to get a handful of packets to place on my tray.  With that I was back to my seat and ready to chow down.  The fries were the crinkle-cut type that you can get at the supermarket.  That said, they were fried perfectly and had a good crisp to the outside while still being soft and hot inside.  They seemed to have some salt on them, but most of it had filtered through to the bottom.  If just a bit more had stuck to the fries, they might have been perfect on their own, but these needed a little dab of ketchup to enjoy.

The hot pastrami was probably about a foot long, maybe just a touch under.  There was less pastrami than I had expected, having heard rave reviews for this place for a couple of years I had built up an image of a monster sandwich.  This is my own fault, as no reviews I’ve ever read/heard made a big deal about the size.  I dug in.  The mustard, despite being very thinly applied (none oozing out in any place), was quite strong and at first I felt like it dominated the sandwich.  With each further bite however, the pastrami slowly asserted itself more and more.  Taking a couple of test bites of stray pieces on their own, I found that it had a solid, strong flavor by itself.  These two ingredients were battling for my attention.  The pastrami was oddly dry and moist at the same time.  I find it difficult to explain.  As if the outsides of the meat had dried out and somehow sealed in some moisture deeper within.  It was a little odd.  The lettuce and onions seemed fresh and crisp.

Overall I was fairly happy with this sandwich and with Roundouse Deli in general.  It was not mind blowing, but it was simple and tasty.  The bread was soft and I enjoyed each bite to the end.  The service was minimal but friendly.  To be honest I think I like the idea of this little place, and it’s potential, more than the execution.  I feel like this could be one of those famous little hole-in-the wall joints that gets a feature on a show with a spiked, bleach-blonde headed host who wears flaming button-up shirts, and blows up bringing in food tourists.  In the end, it’s just a decent deli though.  Oh well.



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