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Food & Drink

Let’s Eat a Bunch of Sandwiches From the New South Lyndale Liquors

The culinary program here is helmed by the founder of the beloved Be’wiched Deli—and it shows.

Em Cassel

South Lyndale Liquors moved just a few blocks earlier this month, from its longtime home at 53rd & Lyndale to 5516 Lyndale Ave. S., but the new store feels worlds away from its predecessor. And if you’ve been in the neighborhood long enough to remember the shop during its early days, well, it’s really a whole new experience.

The business was originally founded by owner Dan Campo’s parents, who moved to Minnesota from Brooklyn in the early 1970s. Recognizing the need for a curated wine shop in the area, they opened South Lyndale in 1975, and eventually, in 2007, Campo bought it. 

“When I came in, I always joked that it was like Dr. Seuss: ‘If I ran the zoo, said young Gerald McGrew, I’d make a few changes, that’s just what I’d do,’” he chuckles. Campo became a business owner-slash-handyman, renovating the building and personalizing the space over the course of years. He fixed the leaky roof and exposed the gorgeous wooden beams; an old friend painted the colorful murals on the side of the building, complete with the mascot Saint Bernards that have always been loyal companions to his family. 

Inside the cheese case at South Lyndale's new marketJay Boller

“To me, South Lyndale is a passion project,” Campo says. “And what I try to do for people is, I can take them anywhere in the world through smell and taste.”

But as much as Dan and his wife Kate (who met when she strolled through the door as a customer) loved the old South Lyndale, they’d outgrown it years ago. It wasn’t just the lack of space for all the beer, wine, and spirits they wanted to bring in. It wasn't the cramped parking lot, either. Campo had a vision of running a neighborhood sandwich shop, but not the space to do it. He jokes that there’s been a deli slicer sitting unused in their basement for years. 

“I always wanted to do an Italian, Brooklyn-style deli… with some really cool sandwiches and some takeaway food, and be able to pair wines with it,” he says. “I wanted East Coast, proper, New York-style sandwiches.” 

So when the much bigger space just blocks from their longtime home hit the market, “I just charged headfirst into it,” Campo says. Kate laughs: “Kind of like a Saint Bernard.” Now, the Campos have 19,500 square feet of space to work with, more than twice what they had at their longtime location.

The new liquor store opened October 4, with the cheese/charcuterie shop, market, and deli following over the last few weeks. We’ve been anxiously anticipating those sandwiches ever since Campo told us he’d tapped Matt Bickford, former co-owner of Be’wiched Deli in the North Loop, to be culinary director of the new food program. 

Now, you won’t find deli menus or hours online yet. After the shop teased a pork sandwich on Facebook, we eagerly called to confirm that lunch would be served this past Wednesday. You see, the deep south of Minneapolis has long been something of a gourmet sandwich desert, hence our hefty, trigger-happy order of five of the available 12 options. And folks? Every sandwich we ate, we’d order again. 

The roast pork might have been the best of the five we tried.Jay Boller

Tearing into the butter brie ($13.95), we fully expected just that: butter and brie on bread. Instead, we were met with a mouthful of crispy radish and soft golden beets. A vinegar drizzle and spicy arugula nicely set off the richness of the brie and butter, which almost sneak in after, reminding you what the sandwich was called in the first place. The mortadella ($15.95) packs so much flavor and texture in—sweet peppers, fluffy ricotta, crunchy pistachios—and the mortadella itself practically melts on the tongue. This is a sandwich that really showcases how quality ingredients make an otherwise “fine” sandwich transcendent. 

There was the smoked turkey ($13.95), with tender shaved turkey, a whipped chevre cheese spread, and a sauce that, to our palates, was almost like spicy-sweet honey mustard. Topped with a sprinkling of sprouts, it’s the kind of sandwich you think you can make at home, but somehow never achieve a result quite this delicious. 

The roast pork ($14.95) arrives on a sesame roll, soft and densely packed with meat, then heaped with bright-green broccoli rabe. Dunked in the brodo, which arrived on the side, it might have been the richest of the bunch, but also our favorite? And then there’s the Italian beef ($14.95), which—all I can say is, where was this sandwich when we ranked Italian beef sandwiches in the area? It would have been near the top simply by virtue of boasting meat that isn’t gray, to say nothing of its perfect peppers and decadent spiced jus.

The one critique you could perhaps levy against these sammies is the price, but the thing about expensive sandwiches is: They’re usually worth it. (Be’wiched was a pioneer in establishing that revelation in the Twin Cities.) And anyway, a 6” Subway hoagie is like 10 bucks these days. We’d put any of these on par with Cecil’s—the gold standard by which all Twin Cities deli sandwiches are measured. 

South Lyndale is still in a sort-of soft open phase—when we picked up our sandwich order earlier this week, a kitchen worker remarked it was the largest they’d prepared yet—though don’t let that deter you. Soon they’ll have wine on tap, so you could grab a hot or cold sandwich and pair it with a glass of vino. Campo says he plans to have happy hours, with pop-ups from local chefs and educational tastings in restaurant space during the evenings. 

The dining room seats about 50—and check out those self-serve wine taps, in the background, which will be up and running soon!Jay Boller

“This is it,” Dan says. “It’s like our family legacy. And it’s a nice compliment, because it’s like, my Italian heritage, all of these things we wanted to do with the Brooklyn-style deli, but it’s… really kind of our contribution to Minneapolis.”

And though the new store may be bigger than its forebear, it’s no less personal, full of warm oak elements and homey decor. There are pieces you’ll recognize from the old store, and art installations on the walls made from wine barrels and corks from bottles Dan and Kate shared together or with the South Lyndale team. Somehow, though it’s more sprawling, the shop feels even more personal—we loved that the tape on each sandwich wrapper was decorated with small, red Saint Bernards.

It’s the South Lyndale Liquors you’ve loved since the ’70s… and it’s a little easier to navigate the parking lot.

South Lyndale Liquors
Address: 5516 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
Hours: Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

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