George's Delicatessen: A step through the looking glass

Up from Vito's on the same side of Madison Street, there's an unprepossessing door worth opening.

George's Delicatessen, at 907 Madison St., has been around for a quarter century. Step inside and the small, dimly lit space, replete with tinned goods stacked high and a glistening meat case, transports you back to the Old World.

Central Europe, to be exact. Sometimes you'll hear Polish spoken on both sides of the counter.

This is the place for real sandwiches - liverwurst, turkey, freshly made sausages, a variety of smoked meats - at a decent price. The new, lavishly garnished chicken panino comes in under five bucks.

The sandwiches appear out of the back in quick order, wrapped by one of the nice ladies behind the counter. Potato salad makes the perfect accompaniment.

George's remains one of those underground secrets, despite an alt-weekly's food writer's emetic effusions about the place: "chances are you truly believe that you've seen God - or at least smelled him" and how the aroma from the smoker "brings meat lovers to their knees."

What a country we live in.

Never mind. The Real Ones, the hospital-worker crowd and nearby construction hardhats appreciate George's and so do Central European immigrants.

A dilemma, if you don't live or work nearby, remains: Where to take your cache?

On a sunny day, the steps of St. James Cathedral will do quite nicely.

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