Traipsing Around Town: Taking on the True Deli Experience at Cecil's

By Taylor Uggla

Cecil’s has been around since 1949, a fact that’s not hard to believe when you first come across the small brick building nestled on a shaded corner of Cleveland. A nondescript red and white sign adorns its facade, and there’s nothing special about the interior either, but once you enter you somehow feel that you’re part of something. Maybe it’s the tables placed so close to one another that you can’t help but overhear everyone’s conversations, or the animated banter that takes place between the owner and his customers. It just seems like everyone inside has been there more than once, another credible supposition when you consider its attributes.When you first walk in, you’ll see rows and rows of food, as the first half of the establishment contains items available for purchase. A variety of goodies fill the freezers, my personal favorite being an appealing box of vegetable knishes. You can buy kosher meat at the deli counter, and Cecil’s also offers cheeses, pickles, ice cream, soda, snacks, freshly baked breads and other bakery items. All look delicious and come in satisfying proportions.

Of course, the true fun in Cecil’s is eating at its restaurant. Filled with children, the elderly, and everyone in between, it’s a true family experience. Photos of brides and girls in white dresses line the knotty-pine walls, and maintaining personal space becomes impossible with all the waiters and customers walking around. (This is definitely not a place for private conversation or contemplation.)

Brad, Cecil’s grandson, will come up to you soon after you’ve been seated and ask you quite frankly what you’d like to eat. He knows the menu up and down and will answer any questions you might have, although he might be surprised if you come with a table of vegetarians like I did. Never fear, however-the menu provides enjoyable options for all. I ordered the Veggie Reuben, and was surprised to love it despite its lack of tempeh. Sandwiches at Cecil’s come quite large, and mine was literally overflowing with sauerkraut, fried onions, tomatoes, and green peppers. I found the dark rye bread, Reuben sauce and Swiss cheese to be quite satisfying as well, and I definitely recommend the deli’s famous creamy coleslaw-unlike most coleslaw, it was actually zesty and pleasant to consume.

I also tried the restaurant’s homemade potato knishes, which came large, plump and heated to perfection. I’d never had a knish before, but after trying Cecil’s I’m definitely a fan. I also absolutely love Cecil’s Egg Cream, a velvety chocolate drink served in a silver malt cup. Like the knishes, I’d never tried it before, but I’ve already found myself craving another taste.

Cecil’s also offers Coney Island dogs, a wide range of sandwiches and salads, chicken broth with matzo balls, two kinds of borscht, malts, and an exceptional cheese and jam blitz. I’ve never dined there for breakfast before, but I’ve heard such good things about their French toast that I’d be crazy not to go soon. (A hint: you would too.)

So head over to Cecil’s if you’ve been looking for a deli in the area. No other place will fill your belly in the same way, and you’ll definitely feel like part of the community.

Cecil’s
651 South Cleveland
St. Paul, MN 55116
651-698-0334