George's Sausage & Delicatessen on First Hill caters to the on-the-go lunch crowd with a limited menu but some spot-on sandwiches and potato salad.
There’s nothing precious about George’s Sausage & Delicatessen, except maybe for the fact that this sliver of a bygone Seattle, hidden among dive lounges and medical buildings on First Hill, remains charmingly untouched by time. It’s a no-frills lunch spot for working people on the go, specializing in sandwiches that’ll put meat on your bones.
An added attraction is that this Polish-style deli is run by natives of Poland, including cheery owner Janet Lidzbarski, who greets customers from behind the counter dressed in a crisp-white restaurant coat. The starchy formality of her attire is fitting because she could run a clinic on how to throw together a mean sandwich. The deli even smokes its own meats in the back.
The menu: Sandwiches include grilled tuna and sauerkraut, grilled chicken panini, grilled Polish sausage, hot pastrami on rye and a corned-beef Reuben. You can also build your own sandwich from a more expansive selection of meats in the deli case. Warm pierogi platters, potato salad, mushroom and sausage-and-vegetable soup were available on my visit, too.
What to write home about: Though smoked pork loin is the most popular sandwich here, I ordered the hot pastrami on grilled rye — which came fit for a lumberjack — stuffed impressively thick with slices of spicy pastrami, along with pickles, Swiss cheese, onions and mustard. George’s is also known to have excellent potato salad. After devouring a side of it with my sandwich, I concur.
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The setting: George’s cramped storefront space preserves an Old World sensibility with shelves of Eastern European dry goods, pickled everything, a huge selection of jarred beets, imported cakes and cookies, seemingly unpronounceable Polish specialties and a deli case that’ll make visions of sandwiches dance in your head. The atmosphere is even more European on Saturdays, when many of George’s Polish regulars come to do their shopping. “Saturday is usually the day I speak Polish all day,” Lidzbarski says.
This is strictly a takeout business; no tables.
Summing up: Pastrami on rye ($6.95), sausage and vegetable soup ($3.50) and potato salad ($2.35) came to $13.95, and that was more than enough for one. A Jamaican rum cake ($4.95), imported from Germany, could feed five people.
Tyrone Beason is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff writer.