4942 U.S. 98
Mary Esther (850) 664-7764 Hours: Open Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Reservations: Not Necessary
Children’s Menu: Yes
We ate on a recent weekend at Larry’s Deli restaurant in Mary Esther. I have never been to the other one on Racetrack Road, but the takeout menu had both addresses on it, so I assume the same food is available there. Larry’s stands right on the highway, one of a row of assorted shops that share a small parking lot. We got there early, and by the time we had our food, the parking lot was full.
Larry’s features an L-shaped dining area, with a counter for orders, and refrigerated cases, one for deli meats and cheeses and the other for soft drinks. Specials are handwritten on a board. You place your order and when it’s ready, the food is brought out to your table. The decor is minimalist, clean and simple. There are dine-in seats and tables, and Larry’s does a good takeout trade as well.
Me, my wife and the Tiny Diner—at her first deli—sat down and took some time to study the menu. Larry’s menu is good for lunch and dinner, and there’s a definite emphasis on sandwiches cold and hot. Categories are gourmet deli sandwiches, signature sandwiches, panini sandwiches, meal-sized salads, specialty hot dogs, combinations, soup and chili, and a kids menu. The house uses Boar’s Head makings for the sandwiches—including the hot dogs—and the meat and cheese case lists by-the-pound prices.
The TD has been making some inroads in trying new foods, and in the past indicated a liking for gyros, a taste she shares with my wife. That made one choice easy. I wanted something with beef, another easily obtained item at a deli. We got a gyro with a mixture of beef and lamb, and a sliced stacked roast beef with lettuce and tomato. Sandwiches are served on a choice of sourdough, rye, onion roll, croissant, pita, wheat sub, marble or wheat, French sub roll, and jalapeno cheese. Many of the sandwiches are available in half-sizes. The gyro, of course, demands a pita, and I got my beef on rye, ‘cause that’s what real men do. Right after they ask to hold the mayo, please.
Sandwiches come with a side of potato salad or chips, and a pickle wedge. Cheese can be added for a small extra charge, and there are soup and sandwich or soup and salad combinations. Soups vary daily (it was black bean that day).
Our food came. My wife opened up her hot wrapped gyro to share with TD, and the little one took her cut of the tender meat, even taking a few bites of the vegetables, probably because of the creamy tzatziki sauce. I did not sample the potato salad, but my wife said it was extra good, thanks to the thin-sliced potatoes, bacon and dusting of paprika.
I tried TD on some of my thin-sliced beef, but I think she found it a little pink for her youthful taste. It was right up my alley, by contrast, and I didn’t miss the mayo. I never do. Ever.
Other sandwich options include a Cuban, chicken gyro, muffaletta, Philly cheese, chicken cordon blue, Italian-style sub, meatball, bacon cheese and chicken grilled, chicken pesto panini, reuben, tuna melt, veggie, French dip, stacked ham, tuna salad, taco salad, chicken salad, chef salad, garden salad, BLT, club, surfer’s club, and beef hot dogs with assorted condiments and garnishes.
I did not see any beer or wine, so I assume soft drinks are the rule. Larry’s offers regular sodas, Stewart’s Classics, lemonade and iced tea. For dessert there are brownies and chocolate chip cookies, as well as specials.
Sometimes it’s called Longboard Larry’s Deli, sometimes just Larry’s Deli. It’s located in two places but shares a menu. There are surfboards—well, longboards— on the wall of the Mary Esther restaurant, and maybe at the one on Racetrack as well. Even with all those details, Larry’s is a straightforward establishment. Open six days a week for lunch, early dinner and carryout, Larry’s is a great place for sandwich lovers.