St. Pete Gems: JO-EL’s Kosher Deli offers authentic Jewish soul food

St. Pete Gems: JO-EL’s Kosher Deli offers authentic Jewish soul food

A sandwich plate
Photo courtesy JO-EL's

One of St. Pete’s best-kept secrets, JO-EL’s Kosher Deli, Market and Café is hidden just off the 22nd Avenue corridor. Tucked away in its neighborhood at 2619 23rd Avenue North, JO-EL’s may be tough to find, but it’s even harder to forget.

Open for breakfast and lunch, the popular deli offers what it calls “authentic Jewish soul food.” Hand-cut meats, fresh-baked breads and pickles take center stage alongside Reuben’s, bagels, lox, toasted rye and much more, available for dine-in or take out.

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The extensive menu features egg scrambles, smoked fish plates and bagels for breakfast daily, while the lunch list is a truly massive smorgasbord of Kosher eats. The standards are present like hot corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, potato knish, potato salad, all-beef hot dogs and a chicken soup with matzo ball.

However, JO-EL’s delivers far more than just the usual few classics. Try Hungarian stuffed cabbage, beef tongue, chicken schnitzel or baba ganoush. JO-EL’s specialties run deep with chicken pot pie, BBQ ribs, Reuben puffs, gefilte fish, chicken wings, fried eggplant and potato pancakes.

Massive market and beloved butcher shop round out offerings

Beyond breakfast and lunch, of course, the market and butcher shop are a treasure trove of Kosher goods, gifts, wines, meats and more. The market itself, according to owners, is the largest selection of kosher foods and Israeli foods on the west coast of Florida, all under one roof and hidden in the middle of St. Pete.

JO-EL’s butcher shop has had the same butcher for more than 30 years, offering dozens of cuts of beef, lamb, veal, turkey and kitchen. And while the meats are the main draw, the butcher himself, Gregory, has developed a following all his own. A man born in the USSR who speaks seven languages and served eight years in the Israeli army before moving to the United States, he has plenty of stories to share.

The entire establishment has been open for over 40 years, initially started in a four-car garage in Gulfport. JO-EL’s was opened by a couple named Joel and Ellen, and it’s their combined names that gave the deli its title.

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As the store has grown, so has its reputation. And while it may not be as widely known as others in the city, JO-EL’s has developed a cult following of passionate regulars who won’t hesitate to sing its praises. As the store itself will point out, it’s a place to see old friends and new friends alike.

Whether you’re grabbing breakfast or lunch, or just picking up something to make for dinner later, JO-EL’s is one of the Burg’s best spots for eating well.

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