DELI-cious D.Z. Akin’s

| May 18, 2014 | 0 Comments
A mural depicts the energy and colorful personality of D.Z. Akin's.

A mural depicts the energy and colorful personality of D.Z. Akin’s.

Customers were lined up three deep at the takeout counter at D.Z. Akin’s, waiting to pick up fish, chicken, brisket, matzo and other goodies essential for the upcoming Passover holiday, but no bread. Bread is not part of the Seder celebration.

In the adjacent dining room, diners were biting into delicious mile-high pastrami sandwiches, overflowing salad bowls, chicken soup with matzo balls, mouthwatering entrees, and extraordinary desserts. Even with the advent of Passover, the bakery was pumping out huge bagels, full seeded rye breads and other wonderful products.

There are only a few “delis” in San Diego county, particularly ones that serve that kind of menu available at D.Z. Akin’s. This restaurant, located in the College area, is perhaps the oldest deli and certainly one of the best.

Founded in 1980 in a small store in a strip shopping center, D.Z. Akin’s is about to celebrate 34 years of service to the community. The small shop has expanded over the years, absorbing adjacent stores to the point that it now occupies the entire building. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, operates a successful catering business and has a small gift shop on the premises selling specialty items that are appropriate for holidays like Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year and Passover, the holiday of redemption.

Throughout the year, racks of loaves of breads run along the back wall next to challeh, braided sacramental breads used on Sabbath and Jewish holidays. Boxes of matzo, halavah and other packaged goods divide the arc of displays.

It started off as a family affair. Debi Akins (the “D” of the restaurant’s name) operated the front of the house, sitting on a high stool like a queen to survey her servers helping diners. At the same time, her husband Zvika the “Z” of the restaurant’s name) worked the back of the house, making sure that all the dishes the left the small kitchen met their high standards of quality and appearance. Debi’s father, wearing lots of gold chains and a golden smile, roamed the restaurant, greeting guests and welcoming friends.

The word delicatessen comes from German and means delicacies. There are many types of deli: German, Polish and others. D.Z. Akin’s is a Jewish deli and serves such delicacies as kugel, kishke and kreplach. If you’ve never tried this cuisine, you’re in for a treat.

The restaurant adheres to a simple success formula – give customers lots of delicious food. Prices may a a bit higher at the margins but customers always leave satisfied and never hungry. I can order a dinner entrée, eat my fill and still have enough left over for breakfast and maybe lunch (I love cold leftover dinner food for breakfast).

The success formula works! D.Z. Akin’s has a large following of devoted customers who delight in the casual ambiance, the speed of the service, and the consistency of good, tasty dishes. The menu is quite large, so there’s always something that will satisfy and breakfast is served all day. Who isn’t happy when ordering a lox and whitefish platter that comes with large bagels, cream cheese, sliced tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and Greek olives?

Now, the business is managed by Debi and Zvika’s son, Elan, who left a promising career in television production in order to take over the family business. It is a family business, so you know that everything will be done right.

The recipes come from a number of sources. Some are old family recipes, some are “old world” dishes, some were created in-house. The ingredients are always fresh (they sell so quickly that delivery trucks are always replenishing) and of highest quality. Meats are from the Midwest and nitrate free. Turkey is low sodium.

“Today’s customer has become very health conscious and we’ve oriented ourselves to providing good healthful cuisine,” Elan said proudly. And loyal customers know what to expect. That’s why they come back.

Who doesn’t love a bargain? Check out the breakfast and early bird specials for pricing that will not only satisfy one’s appetite but one’s wallet as well.

D.Z. Akin’s Restaurant & Deli is located in the Alvarado area, just down the road from SDSU and conveniently off Highway 8. Parking is free. Prices are moderate. Portions are memorable. Reservations are not taken. Be sure to check out the fabulous bakery and takeout offerings. The pastry tastes as good as it looks. The meats and fish taste as good at home.

D.Z. Akin’s is located at 6930 Alvarado Road, San Diego 92120. Call (619) 265-0218 for information and directions.

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Category: Business, Local News

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