I discovered Unreal Deli when I was walking through the Denver airport a year or so ago and saw an ad for a corned beef sandwich using plant-based deli slices at Quiznos. It’s been years since I had Quiznos and most of my dollars go to supporting local, small businesses versus chains, but I still thought it was responsible and cool as hell that Quiznos has joined the plant-based movement. So, I snapped a pic, posted it to my Instagram story, and tagged both businesses, giving them major props.
Unreal Deli replied to my post (I love when businesses actually respond) and we got to talking. I learned that Unreal Deli was a fairly new company started by Jenny Goldfarb. but growing and in the process of expanding to more cities in the US. Mrs. Goldfarb is carrying on the family business with a vegan spin. You could imagine my disappointment when I found out that Unreal Deli didn’t have quite the presence in the Midwest as it did on the West Coast. However, Unreal Deli was sold at two places in Metro Detroit: one spot, I think a small grocer (who’s name escapes me) and I didn’t recognize and Mudgie’s Deli. MUDGIE’S! Mudgie’s was one of my favorite Detroit restaurants in the Corktown neighborhood and had an awesome vegetarian and vegan menu. I was super pumped that I could try out these new plant-based deli slices AND support one of my favorite local businesses.
Fast forward to the weekend before St Patrick’s Day 2021, I finally got around to ordering a sandwich and trying Unreal Deli plant-based deli slices. Don’t ask me what took me so long. Hey, better late than never, right?
Vegan Corned Beef Reuben
Seitan based “corned beef,” vegan cheese, sauerkraut, and vegan 1000 island served on grilled sourdough rye. This sandwich is the real deal! I was honestly surprised at how good the Unreal Deli slices actually are. The slices had texture, flavor was spot on, and they juicy. Bonus! Mudgie’s stacked this sandwich extra high. The vegan corned beef was perfect paired with the briney kraut, creamy 1000 island, buttery, grilled sourdough. My mom tried it and even said the slices are good. Trust me, that’s a compliment! This sandwich definitely satisfied my hankering for a Reuben sandwich.
It’s important that you understand that before this experience, vegan deli meat intimidated me. I’ve tried sandwiches made with tempeh, tofu, or seitan at my favorite restaurants, but hadn’t explored packaged vegan deli meat yet. Every time I’m at the grocery store, I check out the selection, read the ingredients, and ultimately put the options back on the shelf. I always pass and cannot bring myself to buy it. What if I don’t like it? What if it doesn’t taste good? I also try and focus on whole foods and reduce the amount of meat substitutes I consume because of the fillers some contain.
Unreal Deli has opened up my eyes to how delicious plant based deli meat can be. It has been so fun following Unreal Deal and watching their growth. I am happy to report that Unreal Deli is now sold at Fresh Thyme (multiple locations throughout Metro Detroit) and Oak House Deli in Royal Oak, MI. I am no longer intimidated and super excited to try Unreal’s other products, roasted turkey and steak slices (coming soon).