12 Grocery Store Chains With A Top-Rated Deli Counter

It's undeniable that grocery stores make our lives easier in more ways than one. Being able to pick up almost any ingredient from hand-cut steaks and seafood to ice cream, fresh herbs, and artisanal bread in a one-stop shop is the stuff multitasking dreams are made of. But the highlight of America's best grocery stores has to be a well-stocked deli counter.

The word "deli" might conjure up images of cured meats like salami and prosciutto, giant blocks of cheese, and premium pre-sliced packaged cold cuts, but the top grocery store chains raise the bar on the traditional deli counter with grab-and-go eats to rival many a traditional takeout spot. From housemade soups and picnic-worthy side dishes to steaming hot bars and take-and-bake pizzas, the humble deli counter has become a masterclass in no-cook dinners. And the best part? More often than not, you can have these ready-to-eat meals delivered to your front door along with your usual grocery order via your favorite shopping app.

So whether you prefer to shop in-store or from the comfort of your couch, grocery stores with a well-regarded deli counter make stocking up on low-effort meals a breeze. Based on a blend of personal shopping experience and online reviews, we've compiled a list of national and regional grocery store chains that are upping the deli game.


Those in the know understand that the Publix deli counter is among the South's best. The grocery store chain's signature sandwiches — known to regular shoppers as "Pub Subs" — are a staple of many a picnic, tailgate, and break table across the region.

So what makes this sub so special? It's simple: A well-baked base. Publix's beloved subs are made on your choice of house-baked baguette — white, wheat, or Italian five-grain — and piled high with premium deli meats, cheeses, produce, and even chicken tenders. Vegetarian offerings like egg salad, falafel, and marinated tofu ensure that those going meat-free can savor the flavor of a classic Pub Sub, too. Many a Southerner will tell you that one of these made-to-order subs is worth the trip to the Publix deli counter alone.

While you might come for the subs, you should stay to browse the rest of this grocery store chain's well-regarded deli counter offerings. A rotating trio of house-made soups like broccoli cheddar or turkey chili, a selection of flavorful chicken wings, and picnic-worthy side dishes are regular staples here, as is Publix's famous fried chicken. And don't you dare forget to pick up a gallon of the chain's popular sweet tea or lemonade. In fact, if you find yourself feeling thirsty while browsing the deli selection at certain Florida locations, you might even be able to drink craft beer or wine while you shop.

Whole Foods Market

Known for its preservative-free wares and premium price point, the Whole Foods Market deli counter is the place to go for sandwiches packed with organic produce and better-for-you sliced meats. While subs are an easy go-to when you need a quick meal, the grocery store is certainly well-regarded for its extensive selection of on-the-go choices.

But what sets this premium grocery store chain apart from the competition is the quality of its prepared food options. With an entire section of the store dedicated to gourmet heat-and-eat dishes, even the pickiest eaters can find something to satisfy their tastebuds here. Pizza by the slice and house-rolled sushi are among the chain's staple offerings, but larger locations might feature full-on food stalls offering everything from wok-fried favorites to barbecue plates.

And of course, the ever-popular Whole Foods hot bar is a must-try for anyone feeling stuck in a lunchtime rut. Pre-portioned packaged dinners suit almost any diet from paleo to vegan with options like grilled salmon, curried cauliflower, and chicken scallopini with mashed potatoes. A bevy of house-made soups ranging from Thai chicken to lentil provide a bowl of comfort without ever having to turn on your stove and fresh salads help round out a no-cook meal minus that extra bag of spinach destined to waste away at the bottom of your vegetable crisper. While the sometimes hefty price tag might induce sticker shock for some, the quality of a meal from the Whole Foods deli counter speaks for itself.

The Fresh Market

With classical music softly wafting through the air and aisles artfully arranged to resemble a European market, The Fresh Market's shopping experience is ahead of the grocery store chain curve. Anchoring the supermarket is a central deli counter, where nearly any dish your chore-resistant heart desires can be found.

From specialty cheeses that add a wow factor to your next charcuterie board to freshly grilled paninis made with artisanal ingredients, The Fresh Market's deli counter is certainly worth a second look. Golden rotisserie chickens and juicy mini-meatloaves provide hearty mains for a heat-and-eat weeknight dinner, while puff pastry-topped chicken pot pies and take-and-bake pizzas offer a one-dish option to feed a whole family. Pasta, salads, dips, and even deviled eggs round out the deli counter's mouthwatering offerings.

Of course, no meal would be complete without a little something sweet. Luckily, The Fresh Market has you covered there, too. In addition to its well-regarded deli counter, the grocery store chain is also home to a popular bakery that churns out fresh treats ranging from fruit tarts to house-made fudge and delightfully light cake rolls. Freshly baked baguettes and artisanal breads round out the bakery's beloved offerings and turn any take-and-bake dinner into a weeknight feast.


A beloved New England staple, Wegmans has been serving up premium produce and deli delights for more than a century. What started as a simple family-run grocer in Rochester, New York has grown to become a Northeast icon with more than 110 stores operating in seven states along the Eastern seaboard.

The grocery store chain may have started out specializing in produce, but its staying power is in its top-notch deli counter. Among its classic cured meat selection are real gems like imported Jamon Iberico from Spain and pastrami smoked for 18 straight hours. Naturally, quality meats like these make for one mouthwatering sandwich, and that's exactly what keeps its customers coming back. Made-to-order hoagies like Danny's Favorite — named for the chain's chairman, Danny Wegman — feature freshly baked bread packed with simple but tasty ingredients like salami, capicola, spicy ham, provolone, lettuce, and tomato.

If you're not feeling a sandwich, don't worry — the deli has plenty of other options from which to choose. Pick up a package of Wegmans' own house-branded sausages in flavors ranging from Hungarian-style smoked to German brats, and be sure to snag a pack of potato and cheese pierogies, too. The vibe at Wegmans is a bit more upscale with prices to match. However the quality of the products, especially at the chain's well-regarded deli counter, is evident and definitely worth the cost of admission.

Central Market

An upscale Texas grocery store from the folks who brought you H-E-B, Central Market is a foodie paradise in the Lone Star State. The smaller chain has just 10 locations across Texas, but its well-stocked deli counter and upscale prepared foods sections are worth a stop on any road trip from San Antonio to Dallas.

Essentially a specialty food store on a supermarket scale, Central Market has gained a loyal following of food lovers for its bounty of niche ingredients and elevated junk food offerings — think dried squid ink pasta, blue grits, and port wine-and-cheese-flavored chips — but its well-regarded deli counter-slash-cafeteria is where the store really shines.

Following its parent company's motto of "here, everything's better," Central Market's deli offerings are truly premium. Simple roast beef sandwiches are elevated with garlic rosemary wagyu beef roasted in-house and Niman Ranch European-style applewood smoked ham brings another layer of flavor to your humble ham and cheese. Specialty selections like DOP-designated Prosciutto di Parma aged for 18 or 24 months are miles ahead of other grocery store charcuterie selections. In the grab-and-go department, the smaller chain's housemade pastas and sauces are a weeknight timesaver on a gourmet scale, as are pre-packed tamales in flavors like market kale with fire-roasted tomatoes or chicken in red mole.

New Seasons Market

Originally opened in Portland, Oregon in 2000, New Seasons Market has since expanded to 20 stores covering the Pacific Northwest from Northern California to Vancouver. The small grocery store chain takes its role as the world's first Certified B Corp grocer seriously, putting an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, charitable donations, and sustainable business practices. It's exactly this regional focus that ranks the Portland-based chain's deli counter above the competition.

Sourcing from local growers means that chef-prepared specialties at New Seasons Market's well-regarded deli counter are often highly seasonal and worth snapping up if you can find them. Savor rotating selections like a turkey melt with pepper jelly and a side of curry peanut soup or stick with the classics like rotisserie chicken and super-creamy mac and cheese. Mix up your weeknight routine with more unique heat-and-eat options like spinach and feta risotto cakes or Asian chicken meatballs paired with grab-and-go sesame noodles.

And thanks to its Portland roots, New Seasons' deli also whips up a wide array of plant-based eats, too. Vegans and those avoiding meat can opt for grab-and-go burritos stuffed with curry or head for the hot bar for flavorful dishes like shawarma cauliflower or Korean tofu with scallions. If you're looking for something even fresher, some of the stores even offer a made-to-order wok station for customized stir fry to suit nearly any diet.

Sprouts Farmers Market

Value is the name of the game at the Sprouts Farmers Market deli counter. While its regular prices are on par with other grocery store chains, Sprouts' weekly door-busting sales on premium deli meats like Boar's Head turn the deli into a made-to-order force to be reckoned with.

In addition to its sliced-to-order offerings, the well-regarded deli counter at Sprouts serves up a wide variety of budget-friendly ready-to-eat selections to suit most dietary preferences. Buffalo chicken wraps can be found along with veggie-packed vegan chopped salads, paleo meals of salmon and roasted veggies, and even pre-packed kids' lunches complete with almond butter and jelly sandwiches and squeezable apple sauce. Family-sized meal kits of tacos and gyros simplify weeknight dinners without sacrificing flavor, while pre-shredded white meat chicken cuts down on meal prep time. Even breakfast is a breeze with individual servings of overnight oats and sous-vide egg bites ready to grab faster than you can click "add to cart."

When it comes to picnic-ready side dishes, the Sprouts deli has you covered there, too. Packed with hearty ingredients like quinoa, orzo, chickpeas, and taboule, gourmet salads packaged to order prove that healthy and flavorful don't have to break the bank.


Midwestern grocery chain Meijer is a fan favorite for its reasonably priced sliced meats and heat-and-eat prepared foods that can as easily feed one as a whole family. The unsung hero of Meijer's well-regarded deli counter is its variety of freshly sliced meats. In addition to nationally recognized brands, the regional grocer carries its own line of deli meats as well as offerings from Philidelphia-based Dietz & Watson, which regular shoppers claim is as good (if not better) than its more widely available (and more expensive) counterparts.

While stocking up on cold cuts, be sure to check out the Grand Rapids-based grocery store's wide array of prepared foods. Locals swear by its pre-shredded rotisserie chicken, which manages to hold onto both moisture and flavor for a quick and easy addition to your meal prep routine. When it comes to heat-and-eat meals, Meijer recently upped its deli game with a new line of packaged prepared foods at budget-friendly prices. Introduced in summer 2022, the Crafted Market by Meijer line includes mouthwatering favorites like Italian sausage florentine, homestyle meatloaf, and chicken with lemon thyme orzo that are all ready to eat in less than five minutes. Talk about a weeknight winner.


What the big box store lacks in the way of a traditional deli counter, Costco more than makes up for with its wide array of premade meals and sides sized to feed a crowd. It's no secret that Costco's well-priced rotisserie chickens are the stuff deli dreams are made of, and one of the top reasons to visit the grocery store's well-regarded deli counter in the first place. After nabbing your prized bird, peruse the aisles to find gallon-sized containers of pasta salad, shrimp cocktail by the pound, and deli platters to rival any catered option from your neighborhood grocer.

When it comes to classic sliced meats and cheeses, Costco's got you covered there, too. Sold under its own Kirkland Signature label, budget-priced bulk-sized containers of pre-sliced turkey and roast beef deliver just as big on flavor while cheese trays and vacuum-sealed packages of your favorite sliced cheese ensure you won't run out of sandwich fixings mid-week.

With so many quality items sold in such large quantities, you may be wondering how Costco is able to keep its prices lower than the competition. In addition to selling fewer items in bulk, Costco makes up the majority of its revenue in memberships. So if you want to get your hands on those coveted Costco deli goods, you'll have to fork over a membership fee — a worthwhile proposition for loyal fans of the big box brand.

Market Basket

With a 100-plus-year history and nearly 90 stores to its name, Market Basket is a household name in New England for its varied selection and reasonable prices, especially at the deli counter. Among one of the Boston area's favorite grocery stores for quality, Market Basket's well-regarded deli serves up a wide array of premium meats and cheeses for less than some other neighborhood spots.

Proudly boasting the slogan "more for your dollar," Market Basket is definitely a top budget-friendly option when it comes to freshly sliced meats and heat-and-eat meals. In addition to regularly low prices, the grocer shells out weekly coupons for everything from sliced-to-order turkey breast to even imported items like Parmesan Reggiano from Italy and marinated olives from Greece. Those low costs translate into affordable meat-packed subs like a classic Italian stuffed with Genoa salami, capicola, mortadella, cooked ham, and freshly sliced provolone cheese at just over $5 for a footlong.

When it comes to weeknight timesavers, the Market's Kitchen just can't be beaten. Signature golden brown rotisserie chickens, freshly baked pizzas, and seasonal soups like Angus beef chili and harvest squash reign supreme. Made-to-order lunchtime staples include meaty melts and lobster rolls, alongside seasonal selections like cranberry chicken salad. And at just $1.99, Market Basket's jumbo hot dog with fries might just be the cheapest lunch in Boston.

Stew Leonard's

The smallest grocery store chain on this list, Stew Leonard's has grown over the past 50 years from a single dairy store carrying just eight items to a seven-store enterprise spanning Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. While the family-run business has grown in size, it still prioritizes quality over quantity, insisting on hand-picking its limited inventory. So while your selections at the deli counter might be more restrained, you can rest assured that each and every one is a winner.

Of course, the grocery store chain's well-regarded deli counter serves sliced-to-order subs, but hot sandwiches are the real lunchtime hero here. Meaty hot pastrami sandwiches, Philly cheesesteaks, and meatball subs are comforting classics on a cold New England afternoon, while a grilled chicken Caesar sandwich on ciabatta or a fresh balsamic chicken wrap offer a lighter alternative.

When it comes to heat-and-eat meals, however, the only limit is your tastebuds. Stew Leonard's robust prepared foods offerings run the gamut from sushi to steakhouse sides and everything in between. Stock up on barbecue specialties like sweet chili-style barbecue ribs or smoked beef brisket, pick up Asian-inspired fare like hot and sour soup or shumai, or feed the whole family with a hearty house-made calzone and a side of pepperoni rolls for good measure. As an added bonus, if you manage to spend $100 on your meal prep shopping spree, you'll earn a free ice cream cone.

Harris Teeter

Lesser known outside of the Southeast, Harris Teeter is a North Carolina-based grocery store chain owned by Kroger. Like its parent company, the Southern supermarket has garnered a loyal following for its robust rewards program and an array of rotating sales that keep prices low without sacrificing quality.

Due to its size, Harris Teeter boasts a massive deli counter well-stocked with ready-to-slice meats and cheeses from both its own brand as well as a few nationally recognized names like Boar's Head and Private Selection. Better-for-you options like low-sodium roast beef sit alongside flavorful twists on classic sandwich stuffers like buffalo-style oven-roasted chicken breast and Cajun-style smoked turkey that is best stacked on a sub with slices of horseradish cheddar or havarti with dill. While stocking up on premium cold cuts, be sure to peruse the deli counter's array of sandwich extras like chipotle mayo, everything bagel seasoning, and just about any flavor of hummus you can dream up.

Grab-and-go options are on the basic side, with an array of sushi, take-and-bake pizzas, and rotisserie chickens on deck for last-minute meals, but where the grocery store chain's deli counter really shines is in its gift baskets. From the perfect collection of candy for movie night (appropriately popping out of a popcorn bucket) to an overflowing assortment of gourmet cheeses and accouterments for holiday gatherings, Harris Teeter's well-regarded deli flaunts its wares in the most delicious way possible.