This Deli Uses Pickles Instead of Bread for Its Sandwiches

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Courtesy of Elsie’s )

With the growing popularity of grain-free diets like the keto diet, the Paleo diet and the Bulletproof diet, bread is becoming more and more of an enemy to people’s everyday menus. I can’t exactly relate (I bought three loaves of bread at Trader Joe’s last week), but sometimes I understand the impetus to reduce the amount of sugar or carbohydrates in your diet which some breads contain a lot of.

For some folks, it’s not a choice that they can’t eat bread: for those with gluten allergies and syndromes like celiac disease, avoiding bread and gluten is as important to them as avoiding expired food is to all of us. Ingesting it means anything from a very sick reaction to a hospital visit.

Now one restaurant has been getting a lot of attention for its innovative solution to being able to serve a sandwich to everyone, regardless or whether or not they can eat bread.

Elsie’s, a sandwich shop in New Jersey right outside Philadelphia, is not your typical sandwich shop. Instead of providing sandwiches on bread, customers will find their sandwich orders encased between two halves of a delicious, sour, and extra-large pickle.

Elsie’s sandwich options are extensive, and you can get anything from the “Homage to Katz,” a meat-bending sandwich that includes turkey, roast beef, Swiss cheese, and coleslaw topped with homemade Thousand Island dressing to the vegetarian “Taylor,” which includes a hummus flavor of the week (like red pepper) and a smattering of sliced cucumbers. Sandwiches start at $8.50 and obviously, are for pickle-lovers only.

“These sandwiches have transformed people’s lives,” Elsie’s general manager Katherine Cohen told “We’ve had people literally crying when they see the product. So many individuals have cut bread out of their diet due to allergies and dieting and finally being able to actually enjoy a sandwich brings people to tears.”

Those who love the idea but would like a little less pickle with their deli meat are not to fret, Elsie’s also offers what they call “Roll Ups,” which takes the concept of a sushi roll to a delicatessen place. With options such as the “Philadelphia roll up,” which takes a thin slice of pickle or cucumber and fills it with cream cheese and roast beef, the “Falafel roll,” which fills your casing with crunchy falafel, roasted red pepper and hummus. You can get a set of six roll-ups from these or six other flavors starting at $9.

For Elsie’s full menu, check out their website, and if you live near Philadelphia, I’m jealous.