Not quite under the Tobin Bridge and across from the dilapidated Mystic Mall sits a throwback to the days when Chelsea was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. Only a few homages to that past remain. One is the tiny, much-praised bagel spot, Katz’s. The other is Arthur’s Deli. In 1973, around the time of the infamous Chelsea fire, it was known as Superior Provisions. Then it became Arthur’s Wholesale Meat Market. Now, it’s as close as present-day Chelsea gets to the glory of Sam Pressman’s late, legendary delicatessen.
Along with better-known cohorts Rubin’s (Brookline) and Lendy’s (Saugus), Arthur’s gleefully tempts dieters away from their lunchtime green tea and carrot sticks. The deli is unapologetically “neighborhood” in a Boston that’s top-heavy with celebrity chefs. There’s not much here by way of décor, aside from a mural of the New York City skyline. But never mind the ambiance. Sandwiches here resemble overstuffed suitcases. Crinkled, grilled pastrami ($5.99) and moist, fragile strips of corned beef ($6.99; $7.99/extra lean) are picture perfect between slices of dark rye, with crunchy pickle spears on the side. For noshers, have a schmeer of cream cheese on a bulkie roll ($1.75). For fressers (good eaters), power up nearly any sandwich into a substantial sub for about a buck extra. Specialties like “The Classic” — roast beef, turkey, coleslaw, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese, and horseradish — set you back $7 to $10. If you’re still peckish, slabs of Joyva-brand halva (a sweet, uniquely-textured sesame candy) are sliced to order.
Knishes, knockwurst, liverwurst ... it’s all here and then some. Really, the only thing missing is Dr. Brown’s cream soda to wash it all down. Pay close to $15 for a dainty Reuben in the South End, or opt for a more blue-collar but formative deli experience here. Hey, it’s your money.
Arthur’s Deli, located at 139 Arlington Street, Chelsea, Mon.- Fri.8 am to 4 pm, Sat.8 am to 1:30 pm | 617.884.9538.