Continental Store European Delicatessen

The first time I walked in, an imposing woman with piles of fantastic silver hair was minding the front counter and holding a conversation, in German, over the telephone. Her laughter was sandpapery and tough, and she wore tight black leather jeans. I loved the place immediately. A sign on the basket full of big, doughy, salty bread pretzels ($1.25) advises you that they're delivered on Tuesdays and Fridays, and that's when they're best. Shelves are lined with sauerkraut jars, spaetzle boxes, and even a few sarcastic T-shirts for the self-deprecating German in your life. But the deli counter is where it's at. Continental brags that they have the best selection of German sausage and imported cheese in town; they certainly seem to have cornered the market in things that end in "wurst." Jagtwurst, schinkenwurst, and boring old bratwurst are all for sale, by the pound or in a sandwich, as is veal loaf, headcheese, and, of course, Black Forest ham. (To go with the latter, there are also Black Forest cuckoo clocks.) Cheeses are especially tempting and very decently priced. I took home a half-pound of German Swiss cheese for $3.25. Sandwiches are cheap—almost all are five bucks—and simple. On a round roll, slathered with mayo and adorned with only lettuce, I doubt there is a better ham-and-Swiss in town. 5200 Roosevelt Way N.E., 206-523-0606. UNIVERSITY DISTRICT

 
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