Of Half-Sour Pickles and Reubens at Sunrise

If you ever find yourself driving on 84 just north of Hartford at the front or tail-end of a hefty road trip, shore up your stomach with a little detour in Vernon, CT to visit Rein’s Deli.  Over the past decade of making multiple annual hauls between Boston and Philadelphia, I’m sure at least sixty friends, strangers, acquaintances, people on the 86 bus, people on the next treadmill, etc., urged a stopover at Rein’s. But somehow we never made it happen.

This year I remembered, just at the crack of dawn as we barreled down the highway trying to beat the inevitable Thanksgiving rush. While visions of matzoh balls danced in my head, Google maps showed that by maintaining our current semi-illegal speed, we’d hit Rein’s just as it opened at 7 a.m.  And arrive we did, to a line of ten inexplicably cheerful people already waiting outside the shuttered building.

The place is by no means a well-kept secret. That the on/off ramp of the highway deposits you into the front entrance probably doesn’t contribute excess anonymity either. But the lights came on, the door was unlatched, and we rushed in with the other ten to see a straight-faced staff three times our number clearly preparing for battle. To their credit, they didn’t blink at an order of 7 a.m. Reuben, potato knish, and breakfast bagel with a huge bucket of half sours to wash it all down.


It might not have been the best thing to start what is already an indulgent holiday, but it was worth it. So worth it that we stopped by again on our way back to Boston to see the midday crush waiting in a DMV-sized line for lunch. Now wily veterans, we skirted the crowd, and instead grabbed some frozen pints of matzoh ball soup and another bucket of pickles to enjoy later in the week.

We’ve since decided to make the Rein’s Deli stop our new family tradition.  So we’ll see you there in December, other 79% of the holiday highway traveling population!

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One thought on “Of Half-Sour Pickles and Reubens at Sunrise

  1. I had half-sours last week in Jersey City at a stand outside the subway and they were awesome. So salty. I loved this post– early morning car trips are so visceral. I’ll be doing one soon, and wish there were something as good that I could stop and pick up on the way. Once I drove from Virginia to North Carolina early in the morning for a fishing trip and I had a sweet potato biscuit with cheddar and ham inside. It was years ago and I think it’s the best thing (other than Dairy Queen, maybe?) I have ever eaten in my car.

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