Day-drinking at 2nd Deli and Spirits

by Angelica Leicht

It would be hard to hear the game’s scores over the roaring sound of Citizen Cope, whose music plays as a stream of hungry patrons make their way in and out of 2nd Deli and Spirits, a new restaurant housed in the old Toshi’s spot on East 2nd and College. It’s the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, but the lunch crowd seems geared up for the long haul.

This place may be new, but it has already attracted half of Durango’s residents, most of whom are crowded around the deli’s main attraction: the U-shaped bar, which is home to not only thirsty folks, but also the deli’s meat counter.

It’s an interesting concept, the idea of mixing a sandwich shop with a bar, and it’s one we admittedly didn’t quite get before we stepped foot in the shop. Still, despite our confusion, the concept appears to be a hit, even if it feels slightly counterintuitive to wash down a turkey sandwich with a glass of booze.

We watch as customers order Italian sandwiches alongside drinks like the Cucumber C4, a cocktail made with Tequila Blanco, cilantro and jalapeño simple syrup, muddled cucumber, and lime juice.

Intrigued, we follow suit. Our drink arrives quickly.

“Whoa. This has a kick, but it’s awesome. Taste it,” we say earnestly to the person sitting next to us. They’ve agreed to go on this mid-afternoon adventure with us, the promise of sandwiches and daytime booze too much to turn down.

“Wait – what is she drinking?” our lunch partner yells, clearly intrigued by a neighboring patron’s cocktail.

Her eyes have set on a fizzy drink with a smattering of pink layered toward the bottom. We attempt to ask what it is, but the blare of old school reggae, which has taken Citizen Cope’s place, makes it an impossible task.

We grab a drink menu and scan it for clues.

“Oh. I think it must be the Durango Daiquiri,” we half-shout, intent on getting our voice across the 1-foot space between us.

We’re only a few minutes into this lunchtime adventure, and it’s already clear why this place has drawn its share of attention in the last few days. It’s comfortable.

Between the buzz of the customers and the array of spirits behind the bar, this delis feel more like a pub than a sandwich shop. It feels familiar. The Pabst Blue Ribbon neon on the wall drives the feeling home.

“Wait, where did your drink go? Did you seriously chug that down?” our lunch partner shouts at us.

The drink is indeed gone, the glass bone dry except for the ice. Luckily, there are plenty of other interesting cocktails on the 2nd Deli menu to order, including the Sweet & Quiet, a cocktail made with organic tomato vodka, basil simple syrup, lemon and lime juice, and Lunetta Prosecco. We decide to make it our life’s work to get through the list. Or, at least this afternoon’s work, anyway.

As we wait for the next drink – this time, a Billy’s Holiday, a mix of Hendrick’s Gin, basil and watermelon simple syrup, lemon juice, and club soda – we eye the towering sandwiches as they make their way to their rightful owners. We’re intrigued, but we’re not here for those. We’re here to day drink, and day drinking we will do.

We slurp down the next drink with equal gusto, content to fill our bellies with booze and our ears with the constant chatter from the life that surrounds us. As we make our way through the drink menu, we discuss how this concept came to be. A bar and a deli? Nonsense. Who’d have guessed it? And yet somehow, as we suck down cocktails and watch the vibrant life pouring into and out of the shop, it starts to make sense to us, too.

A couple hours later, we topple out into the warm Durango sun, happy with our visit to 2nd Street Deli. This place landed in the right spot, and we’re sure happy it did.

Angelica Leicht

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