Otto's Sausage Kitchen
4138 SE Woodstock
Remember when you were growing up, how your best friend's mom made sandwiches that always tasted better than the ones your own mom made? Your best friend's mom always added that one extra special thing that your mom just didn't love you enough to do. She'd shred the lettuce, add some extra mayo, or use deliciously soft white bread instead of that hippie whole wheat crap. Well, Otto's makes sandwiches like your best friend's mom used to make. They know how to please your palate, with combinations of ingredients that might look weird on paper, but taste so great your taste buds will kick the shit out of any dissenting brain cells.
A perfect example is the "Oktoberfest." In addition to four kinds of cured meats plus cheddar and Swiss cheeses, it's got cream cheese, pickles, and the secret weapon: honey mustard. I was a little shy of trying this one, since I generally don't like cream cheese on anything but bagels, and because, come on--honey mustard and pickles? But regardless of any preconceptions, this sandwich is like a party in your mouth. Rather than take on a starring role, the cream cheese is content to enhance the other flavors. And the sweetness of the mustard was a welcome contrast to the saltiness of all those cured meats. Like a milkshake with french fries.
On another visit, I tried the Dakota boy hot sandwich, which was basically a meat-piled Ruben with pastrami instead of corned beef. I remember dreading my parents' famed "Ruben night" that came around every couple of weeks. If only I had had the cheesy Otto's Dakota boy to substitute for the improperly assembled, non-cohesive mess my mom used to prepare.
If I could change anything about Otto's, it would be to add some chips, a pickle, or even just a piece of that butcher paper stuff to line the plate. Without such accoutrements, sandwiches look lonely--and their position on a large, bare plate gives the illusion of smallness. Even if they're perfectly filling, your mind will try to tell you otherwise. Try grabbing one of Otto's hearty deli sides to rectify the situation. The fantastic macaroni salad, made with hard-boiled eggs, is a marriage of traditional macaroni and potato salad, and is a decadent meal in itself.
Of course, anyone who has ever passed by Otto's knows they constantly have the grill going outside, sending enticing fumes up and down the street. I used to live three blocks from Otto's, but stupidly, I was a vegetarian, so I never took advantage of my proximity to all that juicy sausage. The best I could do was feast on the smell of the grill. There's a nice selection of sausages, and at $2.50 a pop, they're quite a deal, even if you need to eat two salty dogs to satisfy your manly hunger. The Polish frank is plump and good, but I recommend the spicy chicken sausage if they have it; the spices aren't overpowering, but still add a lovable kick.
So if you find yourself in deep Southeast, Otto's is the place to go (if not for lunch, stock up on some uncooked sausages for home). One warning, though: the layout of the deli is pretty confusing. But not to worry, they just do things differently at Otto's, and they're extremely friendly and willing to help. Hey... sorta like your best friend's mom.