Deli Delights 

Fourth Avenue Delicatessen offers solid, simple deals in a small space

As a general rule, I like simple food. The most frequent questions I get when people find out that I have this food-writing gig is, "What's the best restaurant in Tucson?" or "What is your favorite restaurant?" Both are impossible to answer because there are thousands of factors that can affect my response. However, one constant remains—I like places that keep it simple and let the food be the magic. That applies to five-star haute cuisine as much as it applies to a 12-seat downtown deli.

Fourth Avenue Delicatessen, which opened in August in the former Buddha's Dog House space, is a recent addition to the eclectic restaurant scene on Fourth Avenue. You shouldn't plan to eat in because there are only four tables. And if they're all taken, you're out of luck. But the food comes out fairly quickly, so you wouldn't be waiting long for a to-go order. You can also call in your order to avoid the wait.

There isn't a single pretentious thing about the deli, with its industrial-sparse décor and random, brightly colored artwork. The counter service is friendly and customer-centric, and oftentimes you're face to face with the owner, Austin Counts, formerly of Nimbus, as well as other local digs (and full disclosure, once an intern for the Weekly). It's also one of the few non-fast-food places open for post-last-call noshing—until 3 a.m., Thursday through Saturday.

The menu is varied, with lots of options (but not too many, for those of us who suffer from choice paralysis), including vegetarian dishes, hot sandwiches, cold sandwiches and hot dogs. Prices range from $1.50 for a hot dog to $10 for the Tucson Streetcar sandwich, and you can always get your deli-standby whole pickle ($1) and chips ($1.50) added on (most sandwiches come standard with a cold, crunchy pickle spear).

The South 6th ($8.50) and the Mensch ($8.25) were the two standouts from our visits, both hot sandwiches. The South 6th is slap-your-momma spicy, with ham, pepper jack cheese, tons of jalapeño slices and "T-town mayo," a spicy mayo concoction, served on a hoagie roll. Even with the heat, the sandwich had great flavor and was stuffed to the brim. The Mensch sandwich was really tasty, with hot pastrami, slaw, Russian dressing and melted Swiss on rye. The slaw had just a hint of sweetness, which made the sandwich extra delicious.

Fourth Avenue Deli is definitely a great option for the budget-conscious consumer. We tried three items from the "under $5" menu: the Chicago dog ($2.50), the chili dog ($2.50) and the brie and apple B.L.T. ($4.25). Both of the dogs were great. The chili was rich and meaty and absolutely smothered in cheese, and the Chicago dog was complete with all of the traditional fixin's, right down to the neon-green relish, sport peppers and poppy seed bun. The B.L.T. with brie and apple, on toasted white bread, was a bit disappointing, however. The bacon was cold (blerch!) and there was way too much mayo on the sandwich, overwhelming the light, creamy brie.

We also tried The Tucson Streetcar ($10), a cold, grinder-style sandwich loaded with all the goodies—turkey, ham, salami, roast beef, bacon, Swiss, provolone, cheddar, pepper jack, lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayo. Like the B.L.T., the mayo was a little heavy-handed, and again, the bacon was cold, but otherwise the flavors were good, and the filling-to-bread ratio was perfect. Don't expect New York deli-style 6-inch towering sandwiches from the Fourth Avenue Deli, but they dish out hearty portions, especially for the price.

Fourth Avenue Delicatessen is keeping it simple with its easy, tasty sandwiches, which I'm sure are extra delightful after a long night of bar-hopping on Fourth Avenue. Even with something as simple as a sandwich, if you take quality ingredients and combine them in interesting but thoughtful ways, the end result is a great experience. As long as they figure out a way to heat up that bacon.

Related Locations

More by Jacqueline Kuder

  • Identity Crisis

    You might want to stick to the booze milkshakes at HiFi
    • Sep 17, 2014
  • Off the Road

    Seis leaves its mobile days behind to provide another delicious option at the Mercado
    • Sep 4, 2014
  • Juice and Stuff

    On a street with a lot of dining options, Goodness provides a healthy addition to the neighborhood
    • Aug 21, 2014
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Dive In!

    The Boondocks has new ownership, a revamped kitchen and near-perfect pub grub
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • Regional Attraction

    The newest location for Seis Kitchen has an expanded menu and is delightfully enclosed and air conditioned
    • Nov 16, 2017

The Range

GUT Announces Summer Dinner Series

Postino WineCafé Opening Midtown Location

Downtown Kitchen Hosts "Happy Hour with Gary Nabhan"

More »

Latest in Chow Feature

  • Kitchen Confrontation

    Who will be Tucson’s next Iron Chef?
    • Jun 20, 2019
  • Food Fiesta

    Tucson’s best Mexican cooking is bringing the party
    • Jun 13, 2019
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Food Fiesta

    Tucson’s best Mexican cooking is bringing the party
    • Jun 13, 2019
  • West Side Satori

    Maru is proof that Tucson can never get enough ramen
    • May 30, 2019
  • More »

People who saved…

Facebook Activity

© 2019 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation