It’s not very often that J and I make appointments for the early afternoon, but today, we had something to do in Okemos around one o’clock. Our appointment wasn’t going to take long, so we decided we could squeeze lunch in after what we needed to do and before she needed to go to work.
Since we didn’t have a whole lot of time, I asked the question, bar food or deli. She chose deli which narrowed the choices to Panera or McAlister’s. Since I’ve only eaten at a McAlister’s once and she never had, I chose the latter.
McAlister’s Deli is a chain of restaurants founded in the late nineties in Oxford, Mississippi. There are three locations in the Lansing area. Since we were in Okemos, we went to the Marsh Road location which is near the intersection with Grand River Avenue in a small strip mall.
When we walked in, J’s first thought it was a sit down restaurant, but the aisle from the door leads you right to the order counter. The decor is made to resemble the original restaurant which was in a gas station. The lighting is pretty dark and the tables are sectioned off with dark wood dividers
We made our way to the counter and looked over the menu boards while a lady in front of us ordered. The only other time I’ve eaten at a McAlister’s Deli was when we still lived in Peoria. The restaurant had just opened and the place was packed. I ordered the French Dip which I remember as rather disappointing so I passed and tried a different sandwich.
I went with the New Yorker which is on the “Deli Choices” section of the menu. The sandwich comes with corned beef, New York-style pastrami and Swiss on toasted rye. If you look at the picture on the menu, it looks nothing like the one I got. The sandwich was good, but it wasn’t piled high with meat and the cheese was smaller than the bread and melted into the meat. It was very tasty, but not as good as a sandwich from a New York-style Jewish deli. The sandwich came with a side and a pickle spear. I got chips which were Lay’s potatoe chips. I also got a Coke to go with my meal.
J ordered the Smoke Turkey sandwich which is also on the “Deli Choices” section of the menu. Her sandwich came with hickory-smoked turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, lite mayo, spicy brown mustard and a choice of bread. She left the mayo off and chose the sliced wheat bread. She seemed to really enjoy the sandwich and didn’t have much to say other than she liked it. She got mac ‘n cheese as her side and that she said was really good. Instead of a pop, she went with McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea which is a signature of the McAlister’s chain.
After ordering, you sit down at a table with a plastic number and they bring the food to you. We waited less than five minutes for our sandwiches to be brought out. When we were done, I didn’t see any trash cans and a few other tables just left their empty plates, so we did the same.
Our bill was just over seventeen bucks which isn’t so bad. We both got enough food to satisfy the hunger and we were in and out in less than a half hour. McAlister’s Deli isn’t going to replace a local place like State Side Deli or Zingerman’s, but when you’re in a hurry it’s not a bad choice. The prices are much cheaper, but you’re not going to get the big “deli-style” sandwiches that you would at some places. When it comes down to it, McAlister’s is a chain. You get good quality food at a good price, but it’s not going to knock your socks off.