Palm Avenue Deli Is Now Open for Lunch

The downtown Sarasota restaurant marries a classic Jewish deli with a '50s diner and pinch of modern technology.

By Lauren Jackson July 27, 2023

Palm Avenue Deli's diner-style interior.

Palm Avenue Deli, which opened for breakfast earlier in the month, has officially rolled out daily lunch service from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The restaurant is another endeavor of Hi Hospitality Group, which also owns neighboring downtown restaurants Bar Hana and Kojo, as well as Speaks Clam Bar.

“A few years ago, the owners, Mark and Natalia Levey, were talking about wanting to honor and pay homage to their backgrounds. Natalia was born in Russia and Mark grew up in a Jewish household in Long Island," says Rob Castellon, Hi Hospitality’s director of operations. "There is a through line with those cuisines and a lot of generational recipes. From those conversations, Palm Avenue Deli was born.”

The lunch menu features traditional deli fare, like smoked fish platters and matzo ball soup, and adds diner favorites like a hot dog (kosher, of course) and a grilled cheese sandwich.

“We took the perspective of the iconic delis of New York and then married it with the 1950s diner with an architectural style that, to me, looks like Grand Central Station,” says culinary director Hart Lowry. “We aren’t trying to do chef-y tweaks and spins on this menu, though. We wanted to get the best ingredients and do it the way it’s been done for generations.”

The Reuben at Palm Avenue Deli.

For example, the Reuben tastes like a Reuben. The corned beef, which is sliced thin and piled high, is braised for hours and so tender. Heavily seeded rye bread, sauerkraut, pickles and Thousand Island dressing complete the sandwich, and none of the ingredients one-up the others. The accompanying potato salad is simple, flavored with white vinegar and onions, which cleanse the palate between bites of sandwich.

But Lowry and his culinary team have also had some fun with these dishes. Whitefish croquettes are made with, well, whitefish, plus potatoes. They're shaped into bite-sized balls that are breaded, fried and served with a dill pickle remoulade. They remind me of Portuguese bacalhau (salted cod) croquettes—but in this case, make it deli.

Whitefish croquettes at Palm Avenue Deli.

Whitefish croquettes at Palm Avenue Deli.

The service, however, is different from a traditional deli or diner. Guests are greeted at the host stand and led to their tables, where a server stops by to fill waters. But as you make your lunch selections, you're invited to either place your order at a nearby kiosk or directly on your phone via a QR code on the table. If this sounds like a daunting process, I assure you it’s not. The dining room is teeming with attentive servers who will happily guide you through it.  Those same servers will also continue to check on you throughout your meal to make sure your needs have been met.

Palm Avenue Deli will continue extending its hours as the restaurant finds its groove. Dinner service will roll out in the coming weeks, too, and the team has goals to operate 24/7 in the future. The menu will also continue to evolve, with promises of braised brisket and stuffed cabbage leaves coming soon.

About those stuffed cabbage leaves: “No matter where you come from they taste like home,” Castellon says.

Palm Avenue Deli is currently open from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. seven days a week at 1297 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota. For more information, call (941) 263-3742 or click here.

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