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New Sandwich Menu at Zingerman’s Delicatessen

There are a handful of perennial events here in Ann Arbor that are all signs that the long days of summer are winding down and fall will be blowing in before we know it. You’ll probably spot those University of Michigan students making their way back to town—along with them, Zingerman’s Delicatessen will be debuting its latest sandwich menu! With the Deli’s 36 years in business and a menu totaling 32 pages full of more than 125 items, no wonder it’s something of an event. 

The first question most Deli diehards ask, of course, is “What are the new sandwiches?” This year, there are two new carefully constructed creations joining the famous roster. 

First up, there’s #64 Gitkin’s Chicken Rendition. Brother and sister Alex and Staci Gitkin, won the chance to create a Zingerman’s Deli sandwich at an auction to benefit the Chad Tough Foundation. When they sat down to talk turkey (well, chicken it turns out) they had one non-negotiable: grilled challah bread. Here’s what won out after tasting some combinations (it’s somewhat of a modern take on the club sandwich): grilled chicken breast, crispy applewood smoked bacon, house-made and addictive creamy red pepper spread, and mashed fresh avocado, on grilled challah bread.

Gitkin Deli Chicken Sandwich

Next on the list, introducing #95, the Frantastic. This sandwich’s namesake is Fran Alexander, and is a thank you for her years of work with the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. Laura Wonch, sandwich chef extraordinaire, worked with Fran on dreaming up this lighter sandwich that highlights some lesser-known foods found at the Deli. It features the flavor asset also known as the roasted Moroccan carrot spread and freshly milled whole grain True North bread from Zingerman’s Bakehouse

Rodger Bowser, Deli co-managing partner, says “For me, True North is the best new sandwich bread to come out of Bakehouse in five years. It’s amazing what they’re doing to source the grain and mill it in-house. The loaf has great flavor, crumb, and crust. When grilled, it really lights it up! The Bakehouse knocked it out of the park.” 

Are you in yet? Because they’re not done. Deli sandwich chefs take that grilled naturally leavened bread and the smokey sweet carrot spread and add olives, tomatoes, spinach, onions, cucumbers, and a touch of dijon vinaigrette. This new sandwich is flavor-packed from the bottom to the top. You may have noticed it also just so happens to be vegan.

Frantastic vegetarian sandwich at Zingerman's Deli

The Frantastic joins an ever-expanding vegetarian and vegan selection at the deli. As guest needs and tastes have evolved, so has the menu. The classic reubens on rye bread will always be signature to Zingerman’s Deli, but more veggie-forward selections, gluten-free bread substitutions, and making any sandwich on a bed of greens rather than bread are all options for Deli diners.

So what comes off the menu to make room for these newbie sandwiches? “It’s always a hard choice,” says Rodger. “When you make 50,000 reubens a year, and something is just a small fraction of that, that’s where we look. There has to be winners and losers.” This year, seven sandwiches get the knife. One of which is the #77, Jimmy Wants Rosemary’s Baby, which had a solid run on the menu for more than two decades. It was named after Jimmy Simonte, Deli purchasing manager in the 1990’s. Rodger called him personally to let him know his menu item would be retired. Jimmy, who’s still local, loved that personal Zingerman’s touch. Also heading on vacation are the long-standing #24 The Ferber Experience, #91 No Whey Goat, #102 Nathan’s Double Play, #44 Architect’s Four Club, #90 Todd’s Cheezy Wheezy, and the kid’s Miles’ Mathmozztician.

The menu cover gets special attention too, with new artwork each year, created by Zingerman’s in-house illustrators and graphic designers. This year’s cover is what we’d call “classic Deli”. The original Zingerman’s name script, bold in black and white, and a nod to the Deli’s iconic checkered tile pattern. You’ll still set your feet on that original floor tile when you visit the cheese, meat, and bread counters inside the Deli entrance.

Brand New Zingerman's Menu

To help you navigate the 32-page menu and find your sandwich soulmate faster, there’s a helpful index on the inside cover organized by protein of choice (corned beef, fish, turkey, etc) and by type of food (salad, vegan, breakfast, etc). While you can’t go wrong with your choice, you could go with the tried and true, the all-time top ten list also on the inside cover. For newcomers (Ann Arbor and the Deli see a lot of visitors from the University of Michigan School and Hospital, Ann Arbor Art Fair, and so on), the menu offers handy definitions of need-to-know Zing Deli terms: fresser (the regular size), nosher (the smaller size), new pickle (crunchy and fresh), and old pickle (briney and seasoned).

With all this great food in front of him every day, what does Rodger go for? “The cheesemonger and fishmonger platters are a menu secret for sure. They’re really nice, made just for you, and highlight whatever is best that day, served with all the accompaniments.” But he’s also partial to the #33, Benny & Zach’s Bagel Over Tokyo, with smoked salmon, wasabi cream cheese, sprouts, and tomato on a toasted sesame bagel. Something else to try! Like we needed another reason to visit Ann Arbor’s very own food paradise!

Over Tokyo Bagel Sandwich at the Deli

-Sara Hudson, Zingerman’s Community of Businesses