I am from the Midwest, where we know how to eat. And back home in Chicago, we have some terrific bakeries and delis. I long for the old-fashioned bakery and deli, with the large variety of the fresh baked bread or the thinly sliced pastrami and cheeses.
While I don’t see any here that remind me of either my childhood or the city, there are some places you can find quality fresh food and baked goods. Generally, they are within grocery stores.
1.Gelson’s: I have a girlfriend who swears that is the only place to go for entertaining. The food is always fresh, but you pay for it. The prices are high, but the food is delicious. This is the place for your next get-together or New Year’s party.
2. : I like Vons for the everyday in-and-out. The Alicia and Pacific Park location has good paninis to go. Fresh and warm, turkey and Havarti is my favorite. Vons is also good for soups, as well as the occasional pre-made party tray and cupcakes.
3. It has a good bakery at the La Paz location. I have worked with the bakery, and part of what I like is the service. For a kids party, make or buy plain sugar cookies and ask to have icing put into piping bags with decorative ribbon at the top. Get a variety of colors. Cut the tips, and you are ready to go! The bakery here makes cookie-decorating a fun, inexpensive activity and treat for the kids. Not many places I know will go to the pains that this staff does. Here in Laguna Niguel, you can find a little of something at each location.
If you are traveling, I recommend visiting Kaufman’s Deli and Bakery on Dempster in Skokie, IL, just north of Chicago. It has the freshest bagels I have ever had, with arguably the most delicious corned beef and pastrami I have ever tasted. If anyone else has another recommendation, local or long distance, please let me know.