Old School Spotlight: Famous Fourth Street Deli

NOTE: We at the Passyunk Post focus almost exclusively on what’s new in the neighborhood, but South Philly wouldn’t be such a great place if it weren’t for all that came before it. For that reason, we’ve decided to launch the Old School Spotlight, an occasional feature in which we demystify some of those places that have been around forever. Want to nominate a place for an Old School Spotlight? Email us at punk@passyunkpost.com.

It’s easy to forget that amid all the Italian, Mexican, New American, and even Nordic (soon) restaurants around here, we also have one amazing New York-style deli, the Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen, which has been serving  Jewish delicacies at the corner of 4th and Bainbridge since 1923. They serve sandwiches in two sizes: regular and zaftig. Zaftig is a Yiddish word  that means “bigger than your head”*.

We can attest to the deliciousness of the food (especially the potato latkes), the generous portions and the complimentary pickle bowl that is bestowed on each table. And don’t forget the warm chocolate chip cookies you get with your bill!

There aren’t many places to get good bagels in South Philly, so don’t be afraid to pop into Fourth Street and pick up a baker’s dozen. We also recommend the pastries: rugelach, elephant ears and chocolate babka are some of our favorites.

Incidentally, the Famous is also famous because of Election Day, when scores of local politicians head there for lunch every year to rub elbows, slap backs and catch up. A couple politicos started going there for a bite about 30 years ago, according to this WHYY story. Others joined in, and before you knew it, you had a bona fide tradition on your hands, which were probably quite messy trying to wrangle those gargantuan sandwiches.

*No, it’s not.


Seinfeld positively ruined us for black and white cookies.



This bakery scale looks like the love child of Princess Leia and R2-D2. “Apricot hamantaschen, you’re my only hope!”


–  Rachel J. Cox