Living Here Guide

How We Go Columbia: Andy’s Special

Andy Shlon, a 73-year-old Lebanese immigrant, opened Andy's Deli in Five Points 35 years ago. You can still find him behind the counter daily, slinging sandwiches -- and salutes of "my dear" and "my friend" -- at his customers.
Andy Shlon, a 73-year-old Lebanese immigrant, opened Andy's Deli in Five Points 35 years ago. You can still find him behind the counter daily, slinging sandwiches -- and salutes of "my dear" and "my friend" -- at his customers. tdominick@thestate.com

Mom’s going to kill me when she reads this, but as much as I missed her cooking when I moved away from home, the taste I just couldn’t replicate in the Lowcountry came from Andy’s Deli.

Yes, you can find sliced roast beef, turkey, provolone and bacon bits just about anywhere, including Beaufort, where I took my first full-time job as a sports writer in 1992. But no one piles those ingredients into an Andy’s Special quite like the eponymous owner of the Five Points restaurant. (And the dipping sauce. Oh, the dipping sauce. You’ll need a roll of paper towels to eat this sandwich right, because you must make a mess with the dipping sauce.)

I discovered Andy’s Deli while in college and ate there at least twice a week, almost always ordering the special, eschewing the R2D2, Astronaut and other exotically named sandwiches. The newspaper clippings and old Gamecock athletics photos that plastered the restaurant walls became as familiar as bedroom posters. The owner who greets customers as “my friend” or “my dear” was as soothing to me as the babble of the Congaree.

For the first 10 years after I moved away, trips home almost always included a meal at Andy’s or Albert’s Deli on Parklane Road, run by Andy’s brother, who calls his version of the sandwich the “Captain’s Special.” Recently, another notable Columbia eating spot, Groucho’s Deli, opened a restaurant about five miles from my home in Beaufort. The STP Dipper is a tasty approximation of the Andy’s Special. But it is only an approximation. To me, it doesn’t quiiiite taste like Columbia.

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