I was raised Catholic in Fargo, North Dakota, and married a fantastic, beautiful Jewish woman from Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. (Yes, I married a hot Valley girl!) We honor and celebrate each other’s traditions and holidays.
She and her family introduced me to the wonderful world of Jewish delis. These establishments generally not only sell meats, fish, salads, soups, and other delights to take home — but many are also full-fledged restaurants. And they serve pretty much anything you want.
Whenever a family member doesn’t feel well, one of us visits Weiler’s Deli in Canoga Park, California, to pick up some matzo ball soup. (“The Jewish penicillin,” as it’s known.) When taking someone to the Hollywood-Burbank Airport, breakfast at Brent’$ Deli in Northridge is practically required. (The dollar sign for “Brent’s” is intentional. It’s delicious and the staff is amazing — but the prices are a little uffda. That said, their brisket sandwiches are fantastic.)
Speaking of uffda, I read with great interest a New York Times travel story about Fargo — my hometown. I’m delighted the profile’s writer, Danielle Braff, and her daughter enjoyed their Fargo visit. The city has grown and developed so much — especially in the 24 years since I left. (Was it something I said or did, Fargo?! 🙂 )
Ms. Braff visited a number of Fargo restaurants — and was particularly taken with a place named BernBaum’s.
“(As) a Jewish New Yorker currently living in Chicago,” she writes, “I can now say that the best Jewish deli I’ve ever visited was BernBaum’s, on Broadway, a five-year-old Jewish-Scandinavian deli in downtown Fargo.
My eyes lit up. I never knew Fargo had anything close to a Jewish deli. (There isn’t a large Jewish population in the area.)
“We have to go there!” my wife said when I told her about Ms. Braff’s glowing review.
So, we paid BernBaum’s a visit during a recent Fargo trip. Would it be the best Jewish deli we ever visited?
BernBaum’s Jewish Deli in Fargo — Review
BernBaum’s is open daily from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM. You’ll find BernBaum’s at 402 N. Broadway in downtown Fargo. (Just above 4th Avenue.) Here’s their website.
Some of the dishes place Scandanavian twists on Jewish food.
We placed our lunch order at the walk-up counter and received this grasshopper praying mantis toy (thanks, GreggB57!). We placed it on our table so restaurant staff knew where to deliver our food when it was ready.
We ordered the Latke + Brisket, Sarah’s Blintzes, and Myron’s Chicken Matzo Ball Soup.
I love a good matzo ball soup. BernBaum’s was OK. Their soup featured some crunchy onions (or something like that). That twist didn’t do much for us. We weren’t very wowwed by this version of a usually wonderful comfort food.
The blintzes were quite good. The crepe was cooked to near perfection and the cheese filling tasted so good. We’d definitely order them again. Sarah deserves five stars for them 🙂 .
Both my wife and I love latkes and brisket. So, how could we go wrong with the Latke + Brisket?
We found the latke pretty tasty. The brisket was fine — but nothing too special. It needed a little more flavor. (And that’s me — Mr. Bland — saying that.) The meat also was a tad dry. That said, I know brisket can be a tricky meat to cook. My wife and René both know how to cook brisket. Some members of family will attest that I know how not to make brisket.
I’m glad we visited BernBaum’s in Fargo — and we truly hope it continues to do well. (Hey, it’s a Jewish deli in a metro area that doesn’t have a lot of Jewish people — and has been around for five years!) I love small businesses — especially in my hometown!
I think we entered with extremely high expecations. When someone who, we presume, grew up visiting New York City Jewish delis like Zabar’s, Katz’s, and Carnegie Deli said BernBaums is the the best Jewish deli she ever visited, we figured we’d love it. But “best” is usually a subjective term.
BernBaum’s is definitely the best Jewish deli — in Fargo.
Don’t get me wrong: we found BernBaum’s to be fine. I don’t know we’ll visit again — at least, for lunch. Maybe we’ll stop by for a bacon, egg, and cheese some morning during our next Fargo trip.
If you’ve been to BernBaum’s, what do you think? How do you think it compares to Jewish delis in major cities? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below!
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That’s no grasshopper. That’s a Praying Mantis!
You’re right! I corrected it in the post. Thanks, grasshopper!
I live in the SFV as well —North Hills to be exact and I love a good Jewish Deli. We’ve been going to Art’s Deli in Studio City for years. It’s a staple in the east Valley.
I’ve never been to North Dakota, only by train when traveling on the California Zephyr route ( another story at a different time), however I wish BernBaum’s much success!
I used to work in Studio City. Jerry’s was good — but Art’s is so good. I haven’t been in a long time — thanks for the reminder!
In Reno of all places, the Manhattan Deli at the Atlantis casino was voted the best Jewish deli in Nevada. I actually ate there. The grilled hot pastrami was great.
Great tip, thanks!
Zabar’s is more of an appetizing shop (more akin to Russ & Daughters and Barney Greengrass) than a delicatessen.
One of my in-laws’ favorite presents: when their NYC family or friends ship (or bring) rugelach or hamantash from Zabar’s. So good.
It is KOSHER STYLE AND ITS NOT KOSHER!!! Pls make sure that it’s known as not kosher thank you
Geez, sorry, I’m just a goy trying his best.
The keen eye would have spotted that your meal included both meat and dairy.
Technically, the Biblical prohibition is against cooking them together but not against eating them together. The prohibition against eating them together comes from the Talmud, which some non-Orthodox might deem “flexible.” Since you’re already there, feel free to add some Swiss on top of your next hot pastrami.
Yeah…..thinking of heading back for a “bacon, egg, and cheese” surely shows your knowledge
You surely have reasons for your comment. Please enlighten us.
That was a different Barry but he was probably referring us not being allowed to eat bacon, although I wouldn’t have said it quite so bluntly. It certainly would be an improvement if it were kosher. To be 100% Jewish and for me to eat there, it would need to be kosher too. Maybe some day… I did visit North Dakota once, as part of my goal to visit all 50 states (which I have now done). At the time I was flying American not Delta, through Chicago. I took our 5 year old son with me, as a treat for him (and me). My son and I stayed there for one night and flew back the next afternoon. We visited a theme park there. It was a great trip! Sorry for only spending one day there though, Chris!
I made one of the worse travel mistakes ever on that trip. I booked the flight out of DCA but drove to BWI by mistake. My wife had taken the kids to Baltimore and we agreed to meet up at BWI. Although they had flights with seats to Chicaco from BWI too, they wouldn’t allow us to change flights. Luckily, rather than doing my usual thing of arriving 20 minutes before departure, I had arrived 2 hours early, so I had just about enough time to get my car from the parking lot and drive to DCA, with my wife driving our son separately (since I was able to warn her in enough time before she got into BWI) where we did in fact arrive 20 minutes before departure, living up to my reputation.
I’m glad that you had a chance to go “home.” Fargo has changed so much! I love going back.
Right? I really love what’s become of downtown — but dearly miss Lauerman’s.
We don’t need to mention the years — but what schools did you attend? (Holy Spirit, St. Anthony’s, and Shanley here. The OG, fire trap Shanley in north Fargo. Not the bougie one that’s closer to Whapeton than Fargo — at least, as we knew it.)
For real kosher deli in NYC go to 2nd avenue Deli and get the pastrami or corned beef or a wild combo and do NOT order the meats extra lean(feh)
They make great kreplach to have with chicken soup OR get mushroom barley soup with kreplach hahah.
Go to “breads” bakery for their amazing
Chocolate croissant rugalach…..
And go to Russ and Daughters for their appetizing aka
Smoked fish and fixings! They do not serve meat.
And buy their Chocolate Babka cake!!!
Or go to veselka on 2nd ave east village.. it is an Eastern European restaurant. And they have the BEST short rib filled pirogies!!!!
Now I am drooling!!! We’ll meet up when you come to NY also can order o. The gold belly site but cut I. Front of you is better … trust me
We’re still noshing on babka from Passover last week (which we also had for Easter dessert!). Rugelach is such a major weakness. Moreso than potato chips. It’s impossible to have just one. Or two.
If lunch fits into our schedules, you’re getting a call next time I’m in NYC.
Come for Shabbat when you are in Maryland!
And, should you ever find yourself in Palm Springs, Sherman’s Deli is a local favorite, and we all know Palm Springs is NOT without a Jewish population.
No corned beef or pastrami. I did not see chopped liver or potato salad on their menu.
I prefer Sarge’s in New York, now that the Stage is gone.
If anyone wants to really learn about Jewish Delicatessens, watch the profile of Ziggy Gruber on Youtube.
He has dedicated his career to maintaining the traditions of his family
ay Kenny’s and Ziggy’s Deli in Houston, (which has over 4 dozen synagogues whose members KNOW what ‘appetizing’ is.) No offense to Chris but great delicatessens in the US are as rare as hens teeth. And, sorry to let your readers know, but without the Yiddisher Zeitgeist it is not a real Jewish or Jewish-style deli.
No offense taken! Thanks for the tips!
Being from San Antonio, my wife and I never visit the Houston area without stopping by Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen. Their Matzoh Ball Soup and Ukrainian Meatballs are just a couple of favorites from an absolutely amazing menu.
I may need to visit Houston soon.
What? No knishes? Cute article but, as a New Yorker, I’m confident there’s no such thing as an authentic Jewish deli in Fargo. Hence the crunchy onions or whatever in the matzo ball soup. Oy vey.
And that’s the thing. BernBaum’s doesn’t really promote themselves as an authentic Jewish deli. Frankly, I’d never heard of it until I read Ms. Braff’s feature. (Or, at least, consciously heard of it.) When she called it the “best Jewish deli (she) ever visited,” my wife (who grew up visiting Jewish delis in Los Angeles and New York) and I were truly excited.
You know what’s personally driven me crazy about this post? I get hungry for matzo ball soup and a brisket sandwich every time someone comments. 🙂
Here in Israel, surprisingly, few good delis but we have our share as well.