Mayonnaise makes a poor substitute for bricks and mortar (too squishy), but Nielsen's Delicatessen has built a business on the stuff since 1952.
"I don't think I'm allowed to know what goes in the mayo," says deli manager Arthur Nen.
Nielsen's mayo is made in-house daily and is used in pretty much everything, from the potato, egg and pasta salads to the deviled eggs. It's even mixed with mustard and spread on both slices of sandwich bread.
We stopped by Nielsen's (in its third generation, the family name is now Andersen) this week for lunch, sampling the turkey on rye, the chicken salad on wheat and a deviled egg.
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We ate the egg first, which, in hindsight, was equivalent to violating our rule against eating dessert first. We've never had a filling so creamy and rich, salty yet subdued. No wonder Nen says all 120 eggs in each day's batch tend to run out by 1 p.m. Deviled? This was Satanic, anti-Christ level stuff. We flogged ourselves for not nabbing more.
The chicken salad was finely chopped, with small shreds of chicken and what seemed to be celery bits adding a nice texture. We felt smart choosing wheat, which lent a nice sweetness to each bite. The headliner mayo lived up to its billing: creamy, subtle, light, buttery but not artery-choking. Though we tend to like chunky chicken salads (grapes, walnuts, etc.), we'd get this again.
Nen said his shop is the only one in Texas to roast its own turkey meat before slicing it for sandwiches, and we believe him. Even layered 10 slices thick, the meat wasn't dry. We were full enough not to choose any soups or salads (mayo-based, of course), but found ourselves wishing we'd taken some home. Nen said folks come from out of town to get the potato salad.
Just because we didn't hit up the extensive salad list doesn't mean you can't. Nielsen's, at 4500 Richmond just west of the railroad tracks on the north side of the road, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.