A sandwich, a salad, a bottle of rose and a sidewalk table for two in the sunshine. What could be better on a beautiful Friday afternoon? This perfection was made possible by everyone’s favorite deli in Bellingham—Old World Deli, which also happens to have a stellar wine selection.
Old World sets you up for the quintessential deli experience with pastrami, roast beef and ham-on-rye sandwiches, then adds a twist with grilled paninis, muffalettas and creative special sammies. Their daily soups and several salads nicely round things out.
And even though Old World deserves its yearly “Best Deli in Bellingham” award, we’re here to talk about . . . what else—wine! Old World will bowl you over with its large (and impressive) wine selection, which seems to consume more and more floor space every time I visit.
Wines are arranged by region, and there is a special section of Value Wines, all under twelve bucks. Summer time is rosé time, and Old World Deli has tons of it, from all over the world: Washington, Spain, Oregon, France, Austria. Stacked in boxes and chillin’ in the cooler, each one is just waiting for you to tuck it into your picnic basket.
Christos, wine buyer and Old World co-owner with his wife, Anna, likes to bring in wines that he likes, that his clientele will also like—and perhaps will expand their palates a bit. He eschews big alcohol and oaky flavors for high acid, lighter body wines. Of course, he also brings in wines he doesn’t particularly love, but his customers will.
“I just pick interesting things, and I get to know people’s palates,” says Chris. “I remember palates more than I remember names. I’ll move them from one side or the other of what they usually drink.” He especially likes smaller producers from Europe, who offer terrific wines for not a ton of money. Since the land in Europe has been owned for generations, winemakers don’t have to cover a big mortgage payment with every bottle. “You can find tons of great French wines for $9.00 or $10.00—not so easy to do with Washington wines,” he said.
Chris helped us choose a nice rosé to go with our Chicago beef sandwich and candied pecan salad. We were also munching on spicy dill potato chips, and the crisp, slightly sweet (but mostly dry) rose cut the spice really nicely. It only made sense to buy a bottle, with no corkage fee from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. We even managed to take some home!
Old World’s bright, flowered tablecloths and polished wooden floors make the setting cozy and casual, and super-high ceilings let in plenty of light to brighten up the space. But our goal on this last day of spring was to soak up some sun, so we headed out to the sidewalk and plunked our food and wine on one of the charming red tables. With pots of flowers and greenery surrounding us, and the city moving by, we felt very “Old World,” indeed.
Once we finished our amazing lunch, we browsed around Old World’s foodie section. If you’re into house-cured meats, house-made sausages, specialty foods like pastas, olive oils, salts and drinking vinegars (yes, they are delish!), you’ve got to check it out. And home bartenders will love the selection of bitters, vermouths, tonics and olives.
Old World Deli does a Food and Wine Club, too. Each month, members get three bottles of wines, an artisan cured meat, a housemade sausage or pate, a specialty cheese, and food items, like pickled onions or olive spread, that go especially with the wines chosen for that month. Themes are set around the wine region or varietal: Rhone wines, South African wines, or Grenache from all over. Chris picks the wine and then puts together foods that make it even better.
They also offer special wine dinners every month. And my favorite time of day—happy hour—is from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. every Thursday and Friday. Get a glass of wine for three dollars (THREE DOLLARS!), and discounts on sandwiches and bottled beer, too. All day on Thursdays, you can buy a bottle off the shelf and enjoy it onsite for no corkage fee. Saturday nights are also live music nights. So. Much. Going. On!
Make Old World Deli a stop when you’re in downtown Bellingham, whether it’s for a delicious sandwich or a case of wine. You’ll be so glad you did.
Old World Deli, 1228 North State Street (between Holly & Chestnut) Bellingham, WA 98225 360.738.2090
Hours: Monday, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Tuesday – Wednesday, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Thursday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.