Ode: The Latke Reuben at Zaidy’s Deli & Bakery
I was one of many who shook my head in sadness when the news came that Zaidy’s was going the way of the dodo. I was also one of many who claimed to love the place but didn’t manage to get there as often as we could have.
Chalk it up to being stuck in my LoHi bubble — too lazy or dismissive to make a pilgrimage on an indolent weekend morning — or to taking the place for granted, or maybe just getting caught up in the hype of the latest brunch spot an easy stumble from home.
And though my hankering for Jewish soul food could be easily satisfied at a number of nü-deli Denver upstarts — with several youthful proprietors improving on the old standards with better bagels, richer cured meats, and even tastier versions of my go-to chopped liver and pastrami on rye — albeit at much higher prices — the thought of never again eating a latke reuben at Zaidy’s did bring a silent tear to my left eye as I scrolled through the many Facebook posts from locals about the passing of a true institution.
So I was elated and optimistic when news got out about a resuscitated Zaidy’s in a new location.
A second coming. But with an in-house bakery.
I was overjoyed because the latke reuben is the brunchy gut bomb that keeps on giving.
Zaidy’s potato latkes are too pancake-adjacent for me. I’m a fan of crispy birds’ nests of goodness (just wait until my ode to my own latkes this winter). They’re cakey and soft, with just a faint hint of a crunch around the edges. Tasty, but not, like, real latkes.
But they work perfectly as ersatz slices of bread for the reuben.
The dish starts with one of those flat disks of fried potato taking up the circumference of the plate, with a heart-stopping stack of house-cured corned beef piled on top, then sauerkraut, melty-gooey swiss cheese, and a generous dousing of thousand island dressing — all topped off with yet another latke, which droops over the edges like comforting blanket.
The perfect bite comes from slicing a wedge out of the “sandwich,” ensuring you get every layer onto your fork for the full effect. You might make it through three or four of those before you need a breather — a guzzle of Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Soda or a bite of pickle from the little communal bowl in the center of your table. And then you’re back at it, packing away the salty, fatty, saucy, cheesiness of it all, mindless in the sublime pleasure of consuming something that would kill you if you let it.
And then the real decision comes. You’re 2/3 through and the sandwich still has its sedimentary stability, the layers maintaining their integrity like the cutaway foothills off I-70. And you think, “Sure, I could finish this right here. But should I?”
Reader, I’m here to tell you: Should you opt to slide the remains into a to-go box and save it for later, you won’t be disappointed when you eat it cold and congealed, with your hands, right out of the container a few hours later. It will still be perfect.