Mac's vs. Cecil's: The Reuben rumble

Categories: Food Fight

reuben1.jpg
Larry Hoffman
Reuben sandwich

How far can a little greatness take you? Does one great scene make a great film? Does one song make a great album? Does one great ingredient make a great dish?

This is the conundrum we face this week. Behold the Reuben, the most delightful hot sandwich around. Each bite is alternately sour and salty, creamy and crunchy, cheesy and saucy. A good Reuben is not just one thing done well; it's a little bit of everything done right. But pop quiz, hotshot: What happens when one part of this Reuben is so stellar that it elevates the dish beyond its competitor's solid performance in every other category? What do you do? What do you do?

See also:
Hilda's vs. La Loma: Chilaquiles cook-off

reuben2.jpg
KCET.org
Classic deli reuben

Venue: In the running this week are two unlikely competitors -- Mac's Industrial Sports Bar on Central Avenue and Cecil's Deli in Highland Park. Mac's is a fairly standard-looking bar on the edge of Northeast Minneapolis. Not far from Nye's and Surdyk's, it's a no-frills, black and concrete cavern with a few games, a good jukebox, and friendly, solicitous staff. Cecil's couldn't be more different. Occupying the spacious back room of a family style deli, Cecil's 1970s basement rec-room vibe explains why it's often filled with college students and retirees craving the flavors from their bubbe's kitchen. Be sure to pick up some hamentashen from the bakery on your way out. (We can't stress this enough. For G-d's sake, don't skip the hamentashen!)

Weigh-in: Dominating the discussion threads on Yelp, Chowhound, and TripAdvisor for the last few years, Mac's enters the fight as the heavy favorite. Yet Cecil's has been hanging around for a lot longer and it has its vocal partisans.

Round 1: The bread
Shoddy construction can ruin any sandwich; it's tough to enjoy stuff that falls onto your plate or into your lap. A great sandwich needs a great foundation that will stand up to heat or cold without crumbling apart. Mac's uses a lightly toasted marble rye that keeps all the tasty morsels in place, but it's nothing special. Cecil's uses a dark rye with a sour complexity. Its substantial crunch comes from the grill.


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27 comments
atravousnee
atravousnee

i've had both often and they both have their merits and are delicious.


but at macs (which has one of the most incredibly pleasant staffs in the twin cities) you wont see the manager chew his employees out in front of everyone every-single-fucking-time-you-go-there. seriously. that guy is awful.

Aaron Dahle
Aaron Dahle

Nicole Just Dahle Erin Elizabeth Eggan Jenifer Just Eggan

Kayla Fuller
Kayla Fuller

I wouldn't be surprised if they said those were taken with a cell phone + flash. >_

Josh Lynch
Josh Lynch

Craig Hermanson my mouth's watering!

Nick Klebs
Nick Klebs

Mac's all the way. You could order at Cecil's, drive to Mac's and have a Reuben and two beers, and still make it back to Cecil's with time to spare for your order to be ready.

John Paulson
John Paulson

never use a flash when photographing food.

debpias
debpias

Cecil's is way better. The Bulldog. Now THAT's a nasty Rueben.

Libby Summers Boucher
Libby Summers Boucher

You give Cecil's three out of four categories but still give the win to Mac's? Badly done of you.

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