By SUSAN ERICSON
International cuisine has become ubiquitous in Red Bank, adding to a plentitude of lunch options. But there are still some gems hidden away, and so when PieHole readers tell us about flavors unknown, we listen.
That’s how we wound up at Town and Country Deli in Red Bank.
Tucked away next to a laundromat in a Shrewsbury Avenue strip mall at the corner of Bank Street, this place is more bodega or convenience store than delicatessen, but looks can be deceiving.
There is so much going on in owner Harry Patel’s store that it’s at first confusing as to where to order lunch. A small opening surrounded by scratch-off lottery tickets, cigarette signs and racks of candy, we realized, is the only spot to order or pay for anything here.
Intending to order a sandwich, PieHole was blindsided by the variety offered. Large signs above the counter offer a delicious dilemma. Vacillating between fried chicken and biscuits, the “Spanish” lunch alternatives — including several Mexican staples such as tacos — and Cajun-style fish, we learned the hard way that if you snooze, you lose your place in line here.
And first, we had to ask Patel: what’s a memela?
He explained that it’s like a tamale, made with corn masa, but flat. More like a pupusa with cheese and beans, he said. He adds that tacos and sandwiches are their best sellers.
The order of bistek tacos, at $7.99, is substantial. Doubled up, six warm corn tortillas came filled with seasoned chunks of steak. A wedge of lime and small container of mouthwatering, extra-garlicky salsa verde were added as sides, and the green sauce proved a perfect condiment, standing up to the savory, spiced meat.
While waiting for your takeout order, you can pick up anything from an extension cord to hand cream. Groceries such as fresh mangos and heads of lettuce are available, too. Churros, jelly donuts and other colorful cakes were grabbed up by customers from a bin next to the front door.
Fried chicken, biscuits, red beans and rice, and Cajun-style fried catfish add a decidedly southern tinge to an already diverse menu that also includes breakfast and lunch sandwiches and burgers.
Town and Country Deli is strictly takeout, and orders may be called in for quick pick-up. The store is open every day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., with food orders accepted up till 8 p.m.