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Dave's Deli makes sandwiches king on the Eastside

October 22, 2009 |  6:00 am

Now that we know that L.A. may very well be the deli capital of the U.S., it's time to stop a moment to shine the spotlight on a little-known Eastside deli called Dave's Deli. Opened late last year, Dave's is owned by George Shalaby (and named after his year-old son).

Shalaby has been a deli aficionado since he was a child. He grew up down the street from Factor's and his grandfather opened up a deli called King Deli on South Robertson in the 1970s. It was there, at the impressionable age of 10, that Shalaby began making sandwiches. He also put in time at his father's restaurant, Mikey's Pizzeria. When he grew up, he worked in the insurance industry, serving as a liability claims adjuster. Still, his heart remained in the sandwich business.

When he finally reimagined his life and opened Dave's he decided to do it on the Eastside because he thought it was underrepresented in deli-land. Especially considering that the area was home to a number of classic delis in the '30s and '40s, including Canter's, which opened its first L.A. location in Boyle Heights in 1931.

"Some of the old-time residents are so happy that I'm here," Shalaby says. "And a few really old-timers say they remember when Canter's was here and that it had the best French dip, and now they can get one here."

And a juicy French dip sandwich is just the beginning of Dave's offerings. Shalaby, who admits that maybe he got a touch carried away, says that the menu has 99 sandwich choices. "I'm trying to narrow it down to focus on 15 specialty choices," he says with a laugh, adding that there is always a build-your-own sandwich option (diners choose from more than 15 meats, seven types of cheese and more than a dozen sauces).

All sandwiches are made fresh to order using Boar's Head meats and cheeses, fresh veggies, rye bread from Beverlywood Bakery on Pico and white and wheat baguettes made especially for Dave's by neighboring Linda's Bakery. Menu highlights include a Reuben packed with tender meat and tangy sauerkraut; a no-nonsense pastrami and Swiss sandwich; an Italian hero stuffed with salami, pepperoni, ham, garlic bologna and provolone cheese and sauced with a zesty Italian dressing; and a light but satisfying turkey and Swiss sub with coleslaw and creamy thousand island dressing.

Best of all, Dave's delivers anywhere in the city, so you don't have to live or work on the Eastside to explore the flavors of yet another deli in your deli-tastic city.

Dave's Deli, 213 S. Mednik Ave., L.A. (323) 265-3555. www.davesdeliela.com.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Dave's Reuben. Credit: George Shalaby