By Eileen Sondak
This month, as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the San Diego Jewish Journal, we look back with pride at the first edition of our publication and the community support that brought us to this important milestone.
D.Z. Akin’s, a name synonymous with New York-style Jewish deli, was the first restaurant reviewed on these pages and remains one of the most beloved delicatessen/bakeries in town. Although the deli has undergone a few changes over the past decade, there is no skimping on the old family recipes.
“We refurbished the outside a few years ago, but we were in the middle of a recession so we couldn’t get to the inside,” said Debi Akin, co-founder of the family-owned eatery. “We wanted to keep the prices down and the quality up, even though our costs were rising. We couldn’t pass the increases on to our customers when everyone was feeling the recession.”
Changing tastes and eating habits were not lost on the Akins, who have kept the business thriving at their Alvarado Road location since 1980. As son Elan Akin pointed out, “We added six new salads” (in addition to the traditional salads on the menu). Now you can enjoy Santa Fe chopped chicken salad, Mandarin chicken, Thai steak and noodle, Mediterranean salad and other new additions, along with standards like tuna, whitefish and fresh vegetable salad.
Veggie and turkey burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches offer healthy dining options, and “lite eaters” can request a scoop of cottage cheese with a platter instead of the potato, macaroni or three-bean salads, fruit cup or fries. Low-fat and non-sugar items are a boon to diabetics and dieters alike. You’ll find plenty of sugar-free cookies and a tasty sugar-free cheesecake in the bakery.
Of course, the reason D.Z. Akin’s is a local landmark is not because of its changes, but because of its consistency and high quality cuisine. Where else can you get chopped liver like Grandma used to make? Or light-as-a-feather matzo ball soup? The menu abounds with Jewish delicacies, including corned beef, pastrami, tongue and an assortment of smoked fish. But that’s just the beginning.
Breakfast is served all day long, and D.Z.’s features blintzes and matzo brei, along with the usual variety of eggs, omelets, waffles and hot cakes. Look for plenty of lunch and early bird specials on your table and on the blackboard.
Soup and salad combos are a great choice for lunch, and D.Z.’s has so many specialty soups that they have to rotate many of them. If you sign up for your favorite, they will e-mail you when that soup is being served. Our favorite is the matzo ball, but the barley is just like you remember and the sweet and sour cabbage is fantastic. Those are always available, but we receive e-mails when the salmon chowder is ready, and we try to drop everything and take advantage of that wonderful dish.
We love the soup and half-sandwich combo. You can get any bread you want for this heaping sandwich (it’s a half sandwich in name only), and the choice of fillings includes most of the cold cuts on the menu, brisket, pepper beef, chopped liver, whitefish salad and many others. This popular lunch or dinner offering is $11.95.
Dinners are special at D.Z. Akin’s. They include a wide array of entrees, plus salad or soup. Some of the tempting entree selections on the dinner menu are brisket of beef, chicken livers and onions, mushroom chicken, chicken cutlets and rib eye steak with grilled mushrooms. The list goes on and on, and each entree comes with your choice of potato or kasha, among other sides. If you like to eat early (before 6 p.m.), you can benefit from D.Z.’s reduced price early bird specials. Another great deal at D.Z.’s is the low-priced Wednesday wine special.
Desserts run the gamut from cakes and pastries to sundaes and shakes. If you’re too full to enjoy dessert with your meal, take home some of the luscious concoctions at the bakery. You’ll find fresh breads, bagels, and rolls, deli items, and smoked fish, just to name a few offerings at the take-out counters. We even take soup and knishes home for family gatherings. And who can plan a party without help from D.Z.’s catering department?
The secret ingredients at D.Z.’s are quality, freshness and great service. Most of the staff has been there for years, so they know what they’re doing. You’ll find Elan or Debi keeping a close eye on everything out front, while Dad Zvika and son David are hard at work in the kitchen. No wonder D.Z. Akin’s is such a success. A
Address: 6930 Alvarado Road
San Diego, CA 92120
Contact: (619) 265-0218 www.dzakinsdeli.com
Reservations: For parties of 6 or more
Happy hour: Not yet
Take Out: Yes
Delivery: For catering
Patio Seating: No
Group Events: Yes (no private room)
Signature Dishes: Reuben sandwich, Matzo ball soup, Bagel and lox, Sweet ‘n’ sour cabbage roll, Potato latkes, blintzes
Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 7 a.m.-9 p.m.
Fri.-Sat: 7 a.m.-10 p.m.