My morning was spent sitting on a golf course, in the rain, passing out business cards and coozies. Thankfully I had the foresight to bring a rain jacket, so by the time it concluded I was only half drowned. Before heading west on I-10 towards home, I decided to pay a visit to Whiteway Delicatessen. My first visit to the storied deli located in Riverside was thwarted by their early closing time. This time I made it with a few minutes to spare and made it inside before they bolted the doors shut for late lunch. Whiteway Delicatessen has been serving Jacksonville since 1927 when Sam Salem’s father opened the deli at Whiteway Corner. Mr. Salem was part of a wave of Arab immigrants to Jacksonville whose influence can still be felt today in the local cuisine.
Upon entering I was greeted by several people milling about in front of two refrigerated cases. Behind the counter a trio of women collected orders. Whiteway’s menu is a series of printed pages haphazardly pasted along the wall, shelf, and cooler. It took some time for me to work through all of the sandwich options, and although I heard their burgers are legendary, I wanted something with more Mid-East flair. After being racked with indecision I decided to order the Dr. Long, which was advertised as pastrami, salami, turkey, and Swiss cheese topped with tabbouleh and served in a pita. A cherry limeade completed my order, and instead of being asked to pay I was asked to take a seat in the adjoining dining area.
I took a seat at a small table near the front window. The dining area was conservatively decorated with white walls, formica tables, and simple padded metal chairs. Local artwork provided a splash of color and dotted the walls. A lone flat screen television hung on the back wall and thankfully was silent.
A few minutes passed and my sandwich was brought in a small paper lined basket by the same smiling clerk who had taken my order. Half a pita had been stuffed with meat, cheese, and tabouli. I picked it up and was impressed with the heft of the sandwich. The combination of pastrami, salami, and Swiss cheese worked and when combined with the fresh taste of the tabouli made for a delicious sandwich. The bread was fresh and soft, and as I learned while paying, available for purchase. The limeade was also very good, although I wished they had additional lime pieces available to allow patrons to up the tartness level.
With my plate cleaned I proceeded to the check out. Tickets are not provided to customers, and instead Whiteway relies upon the honor system. The line slowly proceeded as the owner chatted with customers, many who appeared to be frequenting the deli for many years. Aside from the food, the neighboorhood feel was my favorite thing about the restaurant.
Whiteway Delicatessen is located at 1237 King Street and is open Monday through Friday from 7 am – 3:30 pm. The deli can be found on Facebook and contacted by telephone at (904) 389-0355
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