Restaurant of the Week: Old World Deli

Old World Deli, 281 S. Mountain Ave. (at 8th), Upland; open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily except Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A storefront in the Mountain Green shopping center next to a former Mervyns and Kohl’s is on the surface an incongruous spot for a restaurant named Old World Deli. It calls itself “an international delicatessen featuring Italian, German, Jewish and American food” and began as a meat market in Downey in 1969.

The Upland location began in 1973 on Foothill Boulevard, according to one of the many newspaper writeups framed on the walls. There were multiple locations at its height; today there’s Covina (126 Shoppers Lane) and Upland.

I ate here once or twice in the ’00s and had positive experiences while never feeling motivated to return. A few months ago, a soup-lovin’ friend told me the soups are top-notch, putting the restaurant back on my radar. During the holidays, an attempted visit to my go-to pizzeria, San Biagio’s, in Mountain Green was thwarted due to vacation.

So I hit up Old World Deli. After the shaded patio tables out front, you enter to a deli case, tile floor, a wall-filling mural and some Italian market items. Rather than order at the deli counter, you order at the regular counter, where the staff is friendly.

The menu has hot and cold sandwiches, a salad bar, soup, pizza, pasta dinners, hot dogs and broasted chicken. They are broad-minded sorts.

I got the tuna melt ($8), a special that day. As careful readers know, the tuna melt is my baseline sandwich, the one I will almost invariably order if it’s on a menu to get a sense of the restaurant. This was a good version with pickles, cheddar and tomatoes on sourdough.

A week later, with San Biagio’s still closed, this time for painting, I had the excuse for a repeat visit to Old World Deli. I wanted a soup and, with five choices, went with cream of mushroom, which was sold out. I opted for broccoli cheese, plus a half sandwich, roast beef (around $8.50).

The sandwich, about 4 inches, was packed with roast beef. The soup was the standout, an 8-ounce serving, creamy and, remarkably, hot all the way to the bottom of the foam cup. Both made for a decent-sized lunch.

I ought to try one of the dinners, which they serve after 4 p.m. and which include a daily special, like fish and chips on Friday. Fish and chips? Broasted chicken? Lasagna? They seem to know what they’re doing, so it wouldn’t surprise me if all these items were pretty good. Although I would advise them against branching out into sushi.

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  • DebB

    I’ve eaten at Old World once or twice over the years, and always enjoyed it. But I’ve never tried the soup – looks like I’ll need to go back soon!

    • davidallen909

      Good places for soup are hard to come by, but this one qualifies. Let us know what you think if you go.

  • Doug Evans

    My book club, that I used to mention frequently in the monthly Reading Log posts, met for years at the Old World Deli in West Covina, which moved to a much noisier location in Covina so we had to stop meeting there, and then the book club disbanded, which happens. The place that we moved to before disbanding was the West Covina El Torito, mentioned in a comment in your previous post about Chevy’s/Acapulco’s. Good comfort food for a guy who grew up in Southern California, but maybe not the greatest or most authentic Mexican food out there.

    • Doug Evans

      Aaaaand update to my comment above: Had lunch plans with a buddy today; texted him and asked if he wanted to meet at Upland Old World Deli which David Allen recommended in his blog. So that’s where we went! I had soup/sandwich combo, chili (yummy on a rainy day) and ham/swiss. Good stuff! Thanks for the recommendation, David!

      • davidallen909

        Glad to hear my recommendation was timely and that you enjoyed the place, Doug!

  • Bob House

    I remain disappointed that, apparently, no local restaurant has re-named their tuna melt, “The David Allen.” Choice of 2 sides, $9.09.

    • davidallen909