Danny’s Deli Restaurant
Newport News, Virginia
By Joe Tanner
Folks like to name the things they love. Their kids. Their pets. Their boats.
So when you run across a sandwich with a name, you know you have something special.
Of course, this wasn’t the first time I’d eaten at Danny’s Deli.
I discovered it when I was a snot-nosed college kid attending nearby Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA.
Now I eat at Danny’s whenever I’m in the “Bad News” and have the chance.
It’s cheap, has a homey atmosphere, and good food.
Scratch that. Danny’s has GREAT food.
I rolled up at about 1:30 in the afternoon and the place was packed. I was escorted to the back by the same hostess that’s worked there since I started patronizing Danny’s over ten years ago.
She recognized me and asked me how I was doing—I’m sure I looked a lot less hungover than I did back in college.
I didn’t need to look at the menu, but I did anyway.
It’s the same laminated, two-sided one they’ve had forever.
My favorite Danny’s sandwich is the “Billy.” Served on a sub roll, the Billy comes with grilled roast beef and pastrami, then topped with cheese, fried onions, lettuce, tomato, and a slathering of their famous “special sauce.”
Let’s just say that if I was ever shipwrecked on an island, I’d want Billy to be there.
But the truth is, I’ve never had anything bad at Danny’s.
Another one of my favorites is their 12” sub called the “Mick”.
No, it isn’t a drunken Irishman on a bun. It’s a foot-long cheeseburger.
How awesome is that?
Another favorite of mine is their 12” fried chicken sub.
But if you’re looking for something a little lighter, they’ve got the “Jan,” the “Felicia,” and a few others that feature turkey or ham.
They also make a great Rueben and have traditional deli favorites like knockwurst and lox.
And no worries if you aren’t feeling a sub roll, there’s an assortment of bread you can choose from like rye and pumpernickel.
And while you’re trying to decide your sandwich, the waitress will bring you a bowl of their homemade pickles.
They’re salty, vinegary, and have a great crunch.
It’s impossible for me to sit there and not eat all of them.
Danny’s Deli also serves beer. And while nobody really goes to a deli to drink, they carry the standard American fare plus a few imports like Heineken and Becks.
They also carry a pretty decent list of mostly Virginia wines because maybe you’re feeling wine with your pastrami sandwich. Hey, who am I to judge?
Since I already knew I was getting the Billy, the only real choice I had to make was my side.
I thought about their potato salad, which is great. I thought about their onion rings which come big, fluffy, and delicious.
But I decided on the fries.
Why? I wanted to take my fries and dip them in “Mister Mustard!”
You don’t find Mister Mustard everywhere, but it’s an extra-horseradishy, extra-spicy mustard that comes from Ohio.
Danny’s choice of mustard alone shows you how much they care about your deli experience.
But they care about everything that’s important.
Their decor is personal but tasteful, you know what city you’re in when you eat there, and it feels like going to an old friend’s house.
There are family photos of the owners’ kids and grandkids on the walls, sports heroes from the 60’s when Danny’s first opened, sports team pennants—there’s even a framed copy of the local newspaper that came out the day after Kennedy was shot.
There’s also an old photo of the 1966 Mustang convertible the owner bought brand new.
They weren’t super-expensive cars back then, but he was so proud of it and so it had to be put up on the wall.
When my Billy came out, I smiled and said, “Hello, old friend,” and then sunk my teeth into my sandwich.
Every time I take that first bite of the Billy, I wonder why I don’t make it a point to come to Newport News more than just a couple times a year.
First you taste the sweet flavor of their special sauce, with the cheese, tomato, and fried onions mixing in together.
Then you taste the meat.
And the meat is not shy. It’s salty, juicy, and smells incredible.
It’s probably the best pastrami I’ve ever had, and the roast beef is top-notch.
The bun holds up, but not too much.
It won’t fall apart on you, but it still absorbs every last bit of juice and is perfectly moist and warm.
I ate every bite. Every bite of the sub, the fries, and the pickles.
I thought briefly about ordering another one to bring home for later.
But I didn’t.
So the waitress brought me my check and I went up to the register to pay.
Oh, and they have T-shirts now. That was new.
The cashier said they didn’t have one in my size though.
Darn. I guess I’ll have to keep going back.
Rating: Will One Day Buy the Shirt No Matter What