The 12 Best Grocery Store Deli Counters, Ranked

It's easy to take grocery stores for granted. But the truth is that having an abundance of food at our fingertips is a truly miraculous feat that we should be continuously grateful for. With rotisserie chickens, piles of fresh apples, blocks of cheese, and hand-cut steaks — grocery stores offer all kinds of delicious ingredients to help us cook our favorite recipes. Deli counters are another convenient facet of grocery stores that offer a wide variety of sandwiches and tasty treats.

Most grocery store delis tend to feature cured meats, like salami and pastrami, along with custom-made subs. But some grocery store deli departments go above and beyond. Homemade soups, steaming hot bars full of prepared food, flame-grilled cheeseburgers, oven-baked pizzas, fresh salads made from scratch every day, and juice bars are just a few of the delectable offerings available at some grocery store delis. That said, the reality is that there are a lot of grocery stores to pick from. 

You probably have a few mainstream grocery stores that you frequently visit — and some of those bigger chains are truly great. Still, there's a good chance that there are some smaller, regional grocery stores with amazing deli counters in your area that you might be overlooking. The good news is that we've taken the time to put a few of our favorites in the spotlight to help you out. Here are 12 of the best grocery store deli counters, ranked.

12. Sedano's

Sedano's is a family-run grocery store that features Latin specialties like Cuban sandwiches. The operation has several locations in Florida. Customers tend to love the large portions and reasonable prices at Sedano's. 

At the deli, you'll find everything from ham and cheese croissants to roasted pork sandwiches. Sedano's also has signature prepared food available like freshly-roasted pork shoulder, Creole-style meatballs, and fried sweet plantains along with rice and beans. Having so much prepared food ready to eat makes it easy to grab meals on the go, to enjoy at work or home.

While the delicious food of Sedano's deli counter pushes the grocery store into the top-tier territory, some may find the company's focus on Latin food somewhat limiting. That said, Sedano's does have some more traditional deli items on hand, like Cobb salads and simple sandwiches on white bread. The bottom line is that there are grocery store delis out there that offer a much more expansive menu that will appeal to more palates. If you're in Florida and you want to get an affordable taste of some local flavors, Sedano's is a great pitstop. 

11. Stew Leonard's

Rather than offering an excessive inventory like most grocery stores, Stew Leonard's takes a different approach. Since the company opened up for business in 1969, the grocery store has prioritized quality over quantity. The store's concept has clearly proven successful, considering Stew Leonard's rakes in hundreds of millions per year and employs thousands of workers around the Northeast.

The deli counter and prepared food departments offer an array of delectable choices. Chicken parmigiana subs, Philly cheesesteaks, and eggplant parmigiana grinders are just a few of the options available. Wraps with chicken, bacon, ranch, tuna salad, and chicken Caesar salad are some of the other tasty handheld fares that Stew Leonard's has on deck for you. There's also a calabrese antipasto mix, hot soppressata, and different flavors of ravioli to pick from — to name a few other items. Stew Leonard's also sells freshly-baked bread.

We additionally appreciate how affordably priced the products at Stew Leonard's are, compared to some other grocery stores on this list. These reasonable prices are a big reason why Stew Leonard's has earned much-deserved praise. One potential downside is that some customers feel this store is overpriced, which can make some deli goods a bit out of reach. The company's well-chosen stock of deli goods and good deals land it a solid spot as one of the best places to shop, but there are still some better options out there that are more affordable.

10. New Seasons Market

Since opening its first location in 2000, New Seasons has grown to operate several stores, mostly scattered around the Portland, Oregon region. It uses a percentage of its profits to donate funding to over 1,000 organizations that assist with important issues like education, environmental protection, and hunger relief. This grocery store is known for its fresh variety of locally-sourced produce and smartly-curated inventory of high-quality products. 

The deli case offers a wide range of seasonal dishes that are prepared and pre-cooked by the store's chefs. Grilled slices of succulent steak, locally-raised brisket, baked spinach mozzarella cakes, and an assortment of cold cuts like prosciutto are just a few of the dishes that New Season's has whipped up. There's also a hot bar with a rotating menu of seasonal items. Freshly-baked rotisserie chickens and macaroni and cheese are some customer favorites, along with other daily specials created by each location's chefs. In fact, the rotisserie chickens at the New Seasons deli are so popular that the store occasionally runs out of stock. This issue is one thing that holds New Seasons back from placing higher on our list.

One thing that sets New Seasons apart from some of its competitors is its wok station. At many New Season locations, customers can order different stir-fry dishes made with chicken, beef, tofu, pork belly, and vegetables tossed in various sauces. The wok bowls at New Seasons are affordable and filling, which makes them a popular choice among the store's customers. 

9. The Fresh Market

The Fresh Market opened up in 1982, with the goal of bringing a European-inspired market to the United States. Over the years, the company has expanded into nearly half the states across the country with more than 150 locations. As its name suggests, The Fresh Market sets itself apart from the pack with high-quality, fresh ingredients like top-notch produce. The company's dedication to offering premium products extends to virtually all areas of the market, including The Fresh Market's deli counter and prepared foods department.

The company's Bistro Meals just need to be heated up — it doesn't get any easier than that! Some Bistro Meal choices include meatballs, roasted turkey, and grilled salmon filets. To round out the meal, you can also select sides to pair with your entree, like whipped potatoes and some lusciously rich macaroni and cheese. The company also offers some clever ideas about how to transform some of its side dishes into full-blown entrees. 

The store's deli also sells a variety of different bakeable dishes, like lasagna, chicken pot pie, and flatbread pizza. The Fresh Market also whips up freshly-grilled paninis, roasted chicken wings in a handful of different flavors, snack packs, and sushi rolls prepared by trained chefs. While The Fresh Market's deli is certainly wonderful, we'd like to see some more inventive offerings. There are other delis on the market that put a more exciting twist on the menu.

8. Doris Italian Market

Starting as a humble deli in 1947, Doris Italian Market has bloomed over the decades into several locations around South Florida. The grocery store has made a name for itself by offering a deliciously superb lineup of exceptionally fresh produce, an Italian-style deli menu, baked goods, prepared meals, and more. 

The company's catering service is part of what nudges it ahead of its competitors, due to how amazingly extensive and high-quality the menu is. Doris caters for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, offering everything from pancakes and french toast to olive platters and stromboli. There are also massive subs available on the catering menu that are up to six feet long. The Italian Style sub — thickly stacked with pepperoni, mortadella, salami, capicola, and provolone cheese — is a popular choice. Of course, there are all kinds of smaller sandwiches in the deli that are always available, too.

The store's weekly advertisement frequently features great discounts in the deli, with savings on tasty items like honey-baked ham. The deli department at Doris showcases domestic and imported deli meats for custom-made subs, flavorful marinated vegetables, a wide range of olives, and more. The store also has gourmet cheese and fresh mozzarella that is made in-house. The only problem here is that the deli is so popular that the store can get quite crowded, which can make shopping here a bit stressful. 

7. Zupan's Markets

With a few locations in the Portland, Oregon area, Zupan's Markets is a smaller chain of grocery stores that specializes in high-quality food products. The deli department at Zupan's is teeming with all kinds of mouth-watering options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In fact, the whole store is full of so much temptation that it can be hard to stay on track while shopping.

The deli department has everything from breakfast burritos and smoked tri-tip sandwiches on focaccia to artisan baguettes with ham, dijon, butter, and gruyere cheese. On those days when you just don't have the time to whip up dinner yourself, Zupan's is happy to take the wheel and steer you to tastiness. The deli has several meal kits that are designed to quickly put a delicious dinner on the table with minimal effort. 

Zupan's spotlight on high-end ingredients with creative recipes in the deli makes it one of the best delis we've encountered. It's not every day that you find a grocery store deli with amazing lobster rolls and red chile pork tamales. The only downside is that it can also be quite pricey. This makes Zupan's feel more like an occasional treat, rather than a daily destination.

6. The Metropolitan

Since 1971, The Metropolitan has been bringing superior goods to the people of Seattle. That's partly due to the fact that the company has a team of specialists that it sends around the world to discover exciting new products for the store. This dedication to quality can be seen throughout the grocery store, especially in the deli department.

Customers tend to praise the deli department for its enticingly tasty fare. One of The Metropolitan's best sandwiches is the prime rib sandwich. Made to order with tender slices of fire-grilled rib eye, dijon horseradish, and a little savory au jus on a fresh baguette, this sandwich is simple yet high-flavorful. The prime rib is grilled to a perfect medium rare, and the rich au jus is made from roasted pan drippings. It's a textbook example of how a few well-chosen ingredients can deliver sky-high results.

But the deli goes above and beyond, with plenty of other flavorful offerings. Lemon and herb rotisserie chickens, tomato basil soup, and turkey and cheese sandwiches are just a small sample of some of the other options in the department. There's also a wide variety of sushi, including salmon avocado rolls, spicy tuna rolls, and crunchy shrimp rolls. The deli counter at The Metropolitan is truly magnificent, with options to please just about everyone. That said, the prices here can be a little steep. If The Metropolitan Market threw some more value-based bargains in the mix, it would score a higher spot.

5. Arbor Farms Market

Arbor Farms Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan has been around since 1979. The store has become well-known for its organic meat and produce, beer and wine selection, along with its excellent deli department. While the deli is always happy to make you a customized sandwich to order, we'd recommend checking out the menu and trying some of the grocery store's signature sandwiches.

The Roast Beef Grinder — made with roast beef, garlic aioli, pepper jack and cheddar, horseradish, red peppers, and arugula on ciabatta — is easily one of the best on the menu. But it's the Ham and Granny Smith that's a real surprise. Loaded with succulent slices of uncured ham, cheese, granny smith apple, red onion, organic spinach, and honey mustard, each bite of this sandwich is loaded with flavor. The tartness of the apple helps balance the inherent saltiness of the ham, while the havarti adds creaminess, and the honey mustard ties everything together.

The deli also makes seasonal entrees that are made from scratch on a daily basis. Smoky bacon macaroni and cheese, shepherd's pie, and Mediterranean frittatas are a few of the tasty meals that the store cooks up. Between the company's emphasis on organic products and extensive signature sandwiches, the deli at Arbor Farms Market is easily one of our favorite places to shop. The only thing holding this store back is its limited availability since there's only one location. 

4. Kowalski's Market

With several locations around the Minneapolis area, Kowalski's is another regional grocery store with some unique appeal. The store's deli features a hot case with dishes like kalbi salmon, but it also has traditional deli bites like grilled paninis.

While Kowalski's offers some fresh sandwiches like most delis do, the department has one delicious trick up its sleeve that is particularly alluring. Kowalski's custom pasta bowls are one option that sets it apart from other grocery stores. The pasta bar gives you a choice of different types of noodles, sauces, proteins, and vegetables so that customers can easily customize their dream bowl of perfect pasta. Some of these options tend to include fresh broccoli, spinach, artichokes, and bell peppers. The made-to-order pasta bar offers a filling and comforting meal option that you don't typically see in most grocery stores. As pasta lovers, this is a major reason why Kowalski's ranks so high on our list.

If you don't have time to wait for a bowl of pasta, there are also tons of grab-and-go items available. Mesquite turkey wraps with cheddar cheese, cranberry chicken salad with feta and walnuts, along with snack platters of fresh fruit and cheese, are ready for the taking. Kowalski's innovative pasta bar and extensive prepared grab-and-go items make it one of our favorite delis in the country. The only drawback is that some customers feel that Kowalski's store-made sausages are mediocre, compared to other local markets.

3. Publix

Publix is a growing chain of grocery stores in the South. It could be argued that Publix's swelling popularity is largely due to its deli department. The deli at Publix is best known for its made-to-order subs stacked on fresh loaves of bread. Publix provides a variety of breads, including white and Italian five-grain, along with plenty of cheeses that include cheddar, pepper jack, and muenster. You can also add different toppings, like bacon, guacamole, and jalapeno peppers. One of the best subs at Publix is the chicken tender sub. Made with fried chicken tenders, this sub is filling and flavorful. Pro-tip: ask for a drizzle of buffalo sauce and a sprinkle of blue cheese crumbles to add some extra zing.

The deli also has rotisserie chickens that are incredibly tender and flavorful. Potato wedges, macaroni and cheese, and fried chicken wings are a few more popular items that you can find ready to go in the deli. The food at Publix's deli tends to be deliciously rich and heavy, which is great when you're in the mood for a big meal. 

One of the things holding Publix back from being situated a little higher on our list is a lack of lighter options. We'd like to see a few healthier choices available in the deli on a regular basis, like more veggie burgers, tofu-based dishes, or grilled salmon. At the end of the day, though, there's no doubt that a Pub sub just about always hits the spot.

2. Dorothy Lane Market

Dorothy Lane Market has been open since 1948 and now has a few stores around Dayton, Ohio. The company has been forward-thinking for decades, as evidenced by the meat department's commitment to high-quality protein and animal welfare standards. It serves customers products that are free of hormones, antibiotics, and steroids. Dorothy Lane Market's deli is equally impressive, with a hearty selection of delicious food options. Customers tend to applaud the freshness of Dorothy Lane Market's deli, which is certainly something to celebrate. But the store's sandwich station and grill are where the company's high standards really shine.

At the grill, you can order juicy half-pound burgers cooked to your desired level of doneness. You can also select a wide variety of different cheeses, including provolone, swiss, and American. Not in the mood for a burger? Salmon and cod are also on the menu. If none of those options rev up your appetite, the cooks will let you get creative with your grill options.

At the sandwich bar, the store has a surprisingly diverse menu of signature sandwiches to select from. Norm's Retro Pimento comes with pimento cheese, bacon, and tomato — a simple yet unbelievably tasty sandwich. Deli-dwellers are bound to love the Mount Royal Reuben, stacked high with beef brisket, swiss, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye bread. Dorothy Lane Market's focus on freshness and exceptionally extensive sandwich menu and burgers make it one of the best delis that we've come across.

1. Wegmans

In business for over a century, Wegmans has steadily expanded to more than 100 grocery stores along the Northeast. Chefs at Wegmans use fresh ingredients from around the store to cook up a variety of different cuisines, including classic deli sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, and sushi. But what brings Wegmans into the coveted top slot here are the tons of genuinely surprising touches. A few of these include a wall of hummus varieties, toy trains that roll by with little boxcars, and luxurious corned beef sandwiches made with marbled American-style Kobe beef.

The deli counter has a tempting mix of sandwiches and subs for sale. Some favorites include a chicken Caesar and bacon sandwich, or a spicy turkey sandwich with avocado. Meatball subs and chicken tender subs are also available — and highly recommended. The prepared foods section has treats like rosemary lamb shanks and glazed ribs, all beautifully laid out. 

Walking through Wegmans, it doesn't really feel like you're walking through a boring grocery store — it feels more like you're strolling through a food paradise. While it may be a bit upscale, this is a case where you truly get what you pay for — and shopping at the Wegmans deli is worth every penny.