Attman’s has been on Lombard Street in Baltimore since 1915. This was the original place in the city where Jews lived; there’s actually a theory that all places with a “Lombard Street” have had Jewish merchants, going back to the days of the Lombardis and the de Medici families. Attman’s is family owned. Okay, enough with the history lesson. Let’s talk eatin’! I was very happy to have a chance to sample some of their finest and to learn more about the place open 7 days a week.
Attmans bills itself as an “Authentic New York Style Delicatessen” and it is, but with the charm of Charm City. You just never know who you’ll see here, but you can bet on anyone from your neighbor to the city’s A-list noshing in the “Kibbitz” room in back. How to translate kibbitz? I instinctively wanted to write, “kibbitzing,” but I can do better. It’s kind of gossiping and catching up on things, maybe with a touch of procrastination implied.
You stand in line, which goes by amazingly fast. The workers behind the counter working noisily, yet efficiently, could rival a NASCAR team. They are busy slicing up tender, luscious, secret recipe corned beef, brisket, tongue, pastrami. This is not grocery store deli meat, if that’s all you’re familiar with! You’ll taste authentic heartiness in sandwiches like the Bye Bye Black Bread, with their roast beef and Hebrew National liverwurst. The Tongue Fu has (almost) all your favorite meats: beef tongue (don’t be afraid, it’s like a tender corned beef!), corned beef, pastrami, with Swiss cheese. For those of you “in the know,” no, Attman’s is not Kosher. But if you are having a catered occasion, they can do everything Kosher, wrapped up and all.
The sandwiches are huge. And still, I’m gonna encourage you to try a bunch of sides… “you look hungry”. (That’s what my bubbies would have said. Then, they’d talk about the latest diets after you put down your fork.) So, have you had kishkes? They are a Polish-Jewish type of beef sausage with potatoes, spices. It’s mild and fork tender. Kishkes refers to the casing used. Attman’s also makes a variety of pickles in-house, ranging from sweet to sour to cucumber-y. G’head, try them all! The fries and onion rings are extra crispy and hot.
Some people are just not red meat people. That’s okay, we’ll forgive you. Attman’s does coddies and a mean whitefish salad. If you haven’t had that, think of a white peppery, super white tuna salad with a kick.
The best thing to wash these dishes down is with Dr. Brown’s seltzer, such as cherry or Cel-Ray, but they do have beer, too,
Do you have room for dessert? Get the noodle kugel (pudding) and ask for them to heat it up. The topping gets all buttery and caramelized.
So, what’s new since your bubbie and zayde’s day? Well, catering is a big deal now, with big time celebs and politicians hosting their chic parties with Attman’s goodies. A favorite for kids’ parties is the hot dog stand they can set up chez vous, complete with bologna slices. Yes! They go together like peanut butter and jelly.
And now, it’s like Attman’s had a kid after all these years… like their own little Isaac. They have a new branch at Oriole Park — 333 W. Camden Street! And you don’t have to wait for game days, either. They’re open Mon. – Friday and unlike the papa location, they’ve got hot breakfast items starting at 8 am. They’ve got a pancake platter that includes an order of home fries for $3… talk about your steal/deals. Actually, everything on the breakfast menu is $5 and under, with some $1 and $2 items.
For lunch, they serve many items from the “home team”, as it were, but not the complete menu. If you work downtown, this is a new yet old-school, convenient option. If you’re doing an office gathering thing, they’ll even deliver.
What’s not on the menu anymore? Gefilte fish, schmaltz herring, stuffed cabbage, borscht, kreplach, and rolled beef. I know, it’s a shanda. Some of these, like gefilte fish and kreplach, are very labor intensive. My mom’s mom used to say, “Why make it from scratch when Manischewitz does such a good job?” Others are, well, kind of stinky — like the herring and the stuffed cabbage. Maybe they just are too much for today’s palates and noses.