Steppin’ Out – The German Deli (Sacramento)

German DeliA few weeks ago my friend Russ Salazar sent me an email that said a friend of his told him of a great German deli that he thought was located on Auburn Blvd., in Sacramento, where Fair Oaks Blvd. ended.

I called my daughter in Carmichael to see if she knew about such a place, but as she didn’t (she actually did, only I gave her the wrong streets), I started a computer search.
While searching I came across several notes on a German deli at the intersection of Manzanita Ave. and Auburn Blvd.

I got back to Russ and pointed out that when Fair Oaks Blvd. turns east in Carmichael, its continuation is Manzanita Ave. Therefore, I believed this was the spot. Now armed with a location, we started out on a Friday about noon to visit the place.

I have to tell you that Russ spent a lot of time working in Sacramento, but almost entirely downtown. I know a bit about the streets in and around greater Sacramento, but not as much as I thought.

On our way west on Highway 50, we decided it might be easiest to take Hazel Blvd. north to Madison or Greenback and then head west. Madison, I found out later, crosses Manzanita, but Greenback meets Auburn Blvd. north of Manzanita. Guess what, I told Russ to take Greenback since there would be less traffic.

Well, we reached Auburn Blvd. and turned not south, as we should, but north. Finally we turned around a found the place.

The German Deli is both a store and a mostly to-go restaurant. There are two tables with maybe six chairs, but you could always eat in your car out front.
It has been at this location for some 50 years, but the present owners have only had it for seven or eight.

Alyson Smith, who is the general manager and part owner with her father, told us that her father loved this place. When he found out that Bavarian born Elizabeth Gibson, the founder, was going to close it, he came home and said, “I think I am going to buy it.” A short time later he came home and announced “I bought it.”

Russ and I looked over the menu on the wall and after asking lots of questions and sampling several meats (they are very knowledgeable and generously let you taste), we decided on a hot pastrami on German sourdough rye and liverwurst (braunschweiger) on a sandwich roll. We also ordered a side of their sauerkraut (they buy it and then do wonderful things to it).

Both the pastrami and liverwurst are the excellent Saag’s brand from San Leandro (since 1933), as are many of their other speciality sausages and meats. But they have a lot of other brands, so you can choose from eight kinds of bologna, several other liverwursts, salamis and lots of other German speciality meats.

I like pastrami with fat on it, but, although delicious, most of them I find are a bit too lean, as this was. The German sourdough rye bread was wonderful. The liverwurst was the best – creamy and full of flavor. It would have been better on the rye than the sandwich roll, but it was still great.

Their sauerkraut was delicious, slightly sweet and with lots of bacon and other ingredients. Russ took a half-pint of it home and just last week I picked up another quart for him, along with some liverwurst.

We tried a couple of gourmet root beers with our meal (they sell lots of domestic and local beer and wine, but not to drink on-site). One was a Virgil’s Bavarian Nutmeg root beer in a swing-top bottle, the other a Sprecher. The Virgil’s was very good and the nutmeg gave it a nice, but different, flavor. However, both of us like the Sprecher brand better.

The German Deli sells all kinds of sausages, including frankfurters, bratwursts, bockwursts and more, along with bacon, patés and almost anything German or German style you can imagine. But that is not all. They have mustards and more mustards, horseradish, pickles, sauces, canned sardines, unique clothing, breads and sweets of all kinds.

I love pfeffernüsse, a small German spice cookie also found in other nearby countries. My Dutch, Scots-Irish grandmother introduced me to them a long time ago.
They are usually part of the early December Sinterklass celebration (you don’t suppose Sinterklass is where they got the name of a man in a red suit who has a sleigh and reindeer?), but are now mostly associated with Christmas. The German Deli has lots of them, so I told my daughter she could buy me some for Christmas.

Well, I don’t have much more room and surely not enough to list even a third of what they have. I guess you really have to stop by and at least check out their inventory. Like Russ and I, you will end up buying at least a variety of sausages and breads (excellent pretzel torpedoes) to take home and try.

The German Deli is located at 5859 Auburn Blvd., at Manzanita Avenue. it is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 until 6 and on Saturday from 10 until 4. Closed on Sunday and Monday. They also do catering.

For more information you can call them at (916) 349-9493.

Oh, don’t confuse them with the mail order German Deli in Texas.

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