World’s First Jewish Vegan Deli Opens in Chicago, Offers Chopped ‘Livah’
Sometimes it can feel like being vegan in an omnivore's world is like walking through a desert seeking an oasis. Now there is yet another fair harbor, or at least a unique option, for anyone trying to eat a plant-based diet and still stay kosher or enjoy traditional Jewish eats.
Chicago just became home to the world's first Jewish Vegan Deli, when Sam & Gertie's opened last week in the Uptown neighborhood. Serving traditional Jewish fare like chopped "livah" (no chicken, no liver) and other specialty treats like vegan smoked salmon, vegan knishes, latkes, vegan brisket and other traditional Jewish deli delights—all plant-based.
Sam & Gertie's deli is named after owner Andy Kalish's maternal grandparents who came to America and made a life, a family, and a business. He and his wife Gina Marino-Kalish, owner of the popular vegan diner Kāl’ish, opened Sam & Gertie's full-time this month, in the space Gina had run a non-vegan pizza restaurant when they had a successful soft launch as a pop-up in December. Andy Kalish wanted to recreate his childhood favorite deli foods as vegan options since he had a fondness for classic Jewish deli foods growing up in Detroit.
So now, Sam & Gertie's has staked a claim on vegan Jewish delicatessen options. The menu features plant-based versions of Eastern European Jewish classics such as a pastrami "Reuben" sandwich with JUST egg, as well as Schnitzels, knishes, smoked whitefish salad, Latkes, and more—all vegan. The founders have a sense of humor; they call the liver dish Chopped Livah!
Check it out for yourself the next time you're in Chi-town or if you're lucky enough to live there. Till then we can only hope that Sam & Gertie's opens up in New York, LA, and lots of other locations soon. Then, we can have the "world's first vegan Jewish deli" to love of our own!