Philly's Famous Fourth Street Deli, a New York-style Jewish deli just off of South Street, is famous for their large portions, not necessarily the quality of their food. Americans love large portions, so the monstrous sandwiches and other sides fit for the famished at Famous Fourth tend to make the masses happy and greedy-eyed.
This is not my first trip to Famous Fourth; I seem to find myself there about once a year. These yearly visits happen mostly out of laziness and lack of inspiration of where to go. Philly digs were once a block from Famous Fourth, and are currently about seven blocks south of the deli, so it's not uncommon that I find myself wandering the neighborhood.
This last visit occurred after being awake for 24 hours, which caused me to be cranky (lunch inspiration was not flowing) and perpetually hungry (a huge sandwich would solve that problem).
Sandwiches can be ordered regular or zaftig. Regular is large. Zaftig is a joke. If you can tackle a sandwich that is six or more inches tall, go ahead and order the zaftig.
Sandwiches aren't the only thing large at the deli. The salad is large enough to be set on a Thanksgiving buffet table, and a single serving of kugel will sink a ship. Large is Famous Fourth's schtick.
I ordered the regular egg salad sandwich with a side of cucumber and onion salad. I pushed half of the faintly dill spiced, but otherwise bland egg salad along with all but one tomato slice and one leaf of lettuce out of the sandwich so that I could wrap my lips around that mother. I then adorned the sandwich with the slightly sweet and tangy cucumber salad for flavor. The rye bread the sandwich came on was very good - soft and not too heavy on rye.My partner ordered the cheese omelet, which came with potato pancake, and a bagel with cream cheese. The omelet was huge; fine, but the bland cheese inside was nothing special. The potato pancakes are much crispier than latkes I'm used too. The potato pancakes sort of remind me of smooshed, overcooked Tater Tots. He's a bagel snob, and liked the bagels just fine. He also ordered the lox.
Half of his brunch went home with him. I passed on the doggie bag of bland egg salad sandwich innards left on my plate.
I admit, I like large portions when I'm famished. And when I'm not, I don't mind taking home leftovers. But a half pound of leftover cold cuts, or in my case egg salad, does not make the most anticipated leftovers the next morning. I'd be better served with a smaller sandwich at a cheaper price (most regular-size sandwiches will run you about $12).
With your check you get two small chocolate chip cookies. Don't ask me how they were, because I was too stuffed to eat them. For those strongly in one camp or the other on cookie texture, they felt like crunchy cookies, not soft.
Famous Fourth Deli did the trick of stuffing my indifferent, hungover, cranky stomach, but it was not entirely pleasurable. I'm sure I'll see the inside of the deli next year under a similar uninspired situation.
Famous Fourth Street Deli
700 S. 4th St., Philadelphia, PA, 19147