The last thing NYC needs is another Deli (especially a chain!) but Lenny's continues to open up new locations- with one of the newer ones being right in Midtown on 48th between 5th and 6th Avenue. I feel like eating at a chain deli in NYC is like eating at Taco Bell while you're in Mexico. With so many sandwich choices already in midtown, when I walked by the sign the first time, I wondered why anyone would get a sandwich at a seemingly yuppified, over-priced chain like this.
Well, after eating there a few times, the answer is simple… it's pretty damn good. As for it not being authentic or home-grown, apparently the chain is an offshoot of a place opened in 1989 on the Upper West Side by Sei Hoon Lenny Chu, possibly the most unlikely named "Lenny" to ever open up a New York style deli in the history of the city. They've recently begun franchising with plans to open 80-100 stores in the Northeast over the next 5 years.
As for the food, I'm sure everyone has their favorite deli to get a sandwich in Midtown- but it's ok to branch out every once in awhile, and Lenny's is definetely worthwhile. The ingredients are fresh, every sandwich is made to order (unlike a lot of the Midtown delis) and the choices are endless. You can order your ingredients ala carte, or choose one of their TONS of pre designed choices like Lenny's All Time Favorites, Cold Cut Combos, Grilled Combos, Homestyle Combos and Lite Sandwiches.
The place is not without it's problems, but alot of those can be solved with a few easy suggestions… more on that, and the +/- after the jump.
First things first… the ordering can be a little frantic. When you walk in, go straight ahead, and across from where the make the sandwiches there is a kiosk where you place your sandwich order only, but don't head there too quickly. The menu is huge and takes some time to dissect. You don't pay at the kiosk, so there's never too much of a line. The board with the most expensive "specialty" sandwiches are positioned behind the kiosk, so be sure to look to your right, for the rest of the choices- or just pick up one of the paper menus along the wall. Once you order you sandwich, you can go to the back and pick out your drinks and chips, and then take everything to one of the cash registers on the right to pay and get your claim ticket. When they call you number, you exchange the ticket for your fresh made sandwich and you're done. They also have salads, but I've never ordered one so I have no idea how that works.
The other issue is price. Lenny's is definetely not going to win the award for cheapest sandwich in Midtown. It's actually sort of expensive. Most of the specialty sandwiches served on sliced bread cost $7.25, and if you go for the wrap or Hero, they are $7.99, meaning before you know it, with a drink and chips you're spending well over $10… and the sliced bread sandwiches don't really seem that big. The price difference between the hero and regular sandwich is understandable- the hero is much bigger.
But in the end, I'm a sucker for grilled sandwiches (with cole slaw and russian dressing) so I don't mind paying the little bit of extra money… because this is where Lenny's excels. If that sounds good to you, go for the Lenny's Combo (Hot Pastrami, Corned Beef, Swiss, Coleslaw and Russian Dressing) or the H4 (same sandwich with Oven Roasted Turkey instead of Pastrami). They also have one of those turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy kind of things if you're into that.
I tried to save a little money by ordering ala carte once to save a little money, but the sandwich was a little dry and closer to being just a boring old sandwich. Stick with the specialty sandwiches (especially the grilled ones) and you should be all set…
- Tons of choices with every topping imaginable (not every sandwich is a winner, but if you try enough you're bound to find one you like)
- Sandwiches are all freshly made
- The cleanliness and comfort of a "chain" that many people need
- Better if you like Sandwiches with a lot of different toppings
- Price. (Although the more I think about it, when you consider the location, the ingredients and how much a sandwich at The Stage Deli is, it's not too bad)
- Not going to be the best, biggest, or most authentic New York deli style sandwich you ever had in Midtown
- If you like plain sandwiches, these might not be worth the price. It's the specialty sandwiches that are better here.
Lenny's [Official Website w/ Menu]
60 W.48th St. btw. 5th & 6th Avenue., 212-871-6677
1024 2nd Avenue btw. 54th & 55th St., 212-355-5700