BEST DELI (2004)
Many a wayward Gothamite has found himself or herself in the Valley thinking, "What the hell have I done?!" Sometimes you find them hyperventilating, in a state of shock that they can't find the Village Voice and the Daily News on every corner of P-town. There's even a special ward at the Mayo Clinic devoted to ex-New Yorkers who've never recovered. They lie around all day watching Seinfeld reruns with glazed eyes, muttering, "All I wanted was a matzo!" Poor sods. Someone should've told them about Chompie's. With locations in Tempe, Phoenix and Scottsdale, Chompie's is so close to the real deal, you'll think you hopped the F train to Kew Gardens. That's because these kosher-style delis are run by the family Borenstein, who themselves moved to the Valley from Queens back in the late '70s to establish an outpost of Gotham in the desert. Sure, they've got classic American and Italian fare, but we go for the bagels and bialys with a schmear, the kasha varnishkes and kreplach, the matzo ball soup and the brisket au jus, the stuffed cabbage and plates of pickles that come with each order. And if we're feeling especially sinful, we'll order a side of the chopped liver, the best in the Valley, which comes in ice-cream-like scoops and is so smooth and rich we think Ben & Jerry's should consider adding a pint of Chompie's chopped liver sorbet to its repertoire. So next time, if you see an expat New Yorker going into convulsions, send him to Chompie's. He'll survive.
Readers' Choice: Chompie's Deli