Here’s What to Buy at the Publix Deli (2024)

By Ariana Losch |

Here’s What to Buy at the Publix Deli (1)

Howdy! It’s me, a Floridian and Publix enthusiast, here to bring you five Publix deli foods you should try the next time you’re shopping in the South.

If there’s one thing I miss about Florida (besides the white sandy beaches and bathwater ocean—sorry, L.A., but your beaches can’t compare), it’s spending my lunch hour perusing the fresh selection of ready-made hot foods at the Publix deli. And look, I’m not here to say Publix’s deli is superior to other major grocery stores. That would be very biased of me. What I can say is this: Publix deli food understands the importance of quality in some key areas. Like chicken (fried chicken, chicken wings, rotisserie chicken, you name it, I love it), hot Southern comfort foods, and classic barbecue sides. So the next time you walk into Publix hungry, here are five things you should try—professional taste-tester and Florida-girl approved.

Buffalo Chicken Tender Sub

On my last trip to Publix, I asked the sandwich artist on shift at the Pub Sub station to make me his favorite sub sandwich on the menu (shoutout to Anderson!). If you aren’t familiar, “Pub Sub” is the colloquial term for the sub sandwiches served at the Publix deli. In Florida, Pub Subs have a pretty strong cult following among high schoolers, college kids, and of course, the elderly. (Those groups may not agree on much, but they can all agree that Pub Subs freakin’ rock.) Now, Anderson bravely accepted my challenge and made his version of the perfect Pub Sub: a Buffalo Chicken Tender Sub on classic white bread with provolone, extra buffalo sauce, and nothing else. He pressed the sandwich and—here’s the kicker—gave me a side of their “spicy gold sauce” to dip the sandwich in. To this day, I’m not 100% sure what the spicy gold sauce is; it must have been some kind of BBQ sauce, but I can’t seem to find it on Publix’s online menu. But man, that sub with that sauce? This was easily one of the best sub sandwiches I’ve ever had. I highly recommend trying it the next time you’re scouring the Publix hot food bar for something to eat! Anderson, I’m forever in your debt.

Fried Pickle Chips

Only in the South can you find a tray of golden fried pickle chips waiting for you at the most popular grocery store. I can’t say for certain if these are always available among Publix deli foods (they seem to come and go depending on day and time), but on my last visit I spotted them right next to fried onion rings and potato wedges (the holy trifecta of Southern fried sides). These crispy, crunchy pickle chips, paired with that beautiful ranch dipping sauce on the Publix sub menu, totally made my day.

Original Popcorn Fried Chicken

Who needs KFC? That feels blasphemous to say, but the crunchy, tender goodness of Publix’s Original Popcorn Fried Chicken could really rival any classic fast food fried chicken chain. These addictive little chicken bites are dangerous. They come in large cups that sit nice and pretty in a grab-and-go section of the deli. Whenever I walk by the Publix hot food bar, I try to avoid making eye contact with them. And not to make this article all about the mysterious spicy gold BBQ sauce I tried with that Buffalo Chicken Tender Sub, but good lordy, try it with these. (Also, according to Reddit, the sauce might actually be this Carolina Gold Sauce. I have yet to confirm, but do with that information what you will.)

Cheddar Gouda Mac & Cheese

It’s 2024. Any major grocery store should now offer at least two different types of mac and cheese at their deli, or I simply can’t endorse them. Of course, the classic cheddar mac and cheese is always a good go-to option on the Publix hot food bar, but this cheddar gouda mac and cheese? Oh boy. It’s extra sharp and rich. These are some of the best store bought cheesy shells I’ve tried.

New York-Style Potato Salad

Publix currently operates in seven states, and unfortunately for everyone residing outside of them, their New York-Style Potato Salad is hands down the best grocery store potato salad I’ve ever tried. If you have the opportunity—nay, the privilege—to shop at Publix on a regular basis, please make sure to try this. At least once. Even if you think you don’t like potato salad, you will like this! Unlike many store bought potato salads, the emphasis here is on the perfectly cooked (almost breakfast-like) potatoes, and not the taste of sugar and corn syrup. I taste tested this potato salad at home, and my family gobbled it up in about five seconds flat. Those animals. I can’t even blame them—they were eating some of the best food at the Publix deli, after all.

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About the Author

Ariana Losch

Ariana Losch is a Sporked contributor, webcomic writer, java junkie, and bad TV enthusiast. She only ever feels at peace laying out on a beach like a kebab, roasting in the sun; sadly, she can never move back to Florida, her home state, because there simply isn’t enough good Mediterranean food. You can find her overstaying her welcome at just about every LA coffee shop, working on a screenplay and avoiding all eye contact. (She is embarrassed to be there, please leave her alone.)

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