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(PDX)Best Pastrami Sandwich?

  • p

Ok- been lurking here for a short time now and figure I'd jump in.

I saw marshall's post below about NY NY in the Barber area, but thought I'd see what the rest of you thought.

Togo's large #9 is still pretty good (for a chain)- i'd give it a 7-8 on a scale of 1-10, but maybe that's just because it's been too long since i've had a REALLY good one.

Anyone know of Johnny's Pastrami on Sepulveda in LA? THAT'S what I'm talking about. Juicy, steamy pastrami on a soft fresh white bun, nothing else. 3 different mustards and a bucket of pickles on the side.

anyone??

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  1. "fresh soft white bun"??? Are ya kidding me, pdxlizard (and btw welcome and thanks for taking the plunge from lurking to posting!)?! It's either rye or club where I am from. Yeah, I'm another one of those NYC transplants.

    Ben's Best deli on Queens Blvd. near 63rd Drive in Rego Park, NY (not that far from LaGuardia Airport, btw)is my gold standard. It's a kosher deli that is not part of a chain and their food is quite amazing. (btw: http://www.bensbest.com/ because they DO ship! ;o
    )
    But I do agree that nothing else but mustard belongs on the sandwich and the pastrami needs to be nice and juicy...and it should also have a little fat still on it (those "extra lean" folks are a hoot, ain't they?)!!

    I haven't seen anything that looks anything like something I would want to eat around here where pastrami or corned beef is concerned. The food at Kornblatt's looks awful to me and the corned beef sandwich at Balaboosta's on SW Washington off of 3rd is seriously lousy and ridiculously expensive at $9.

    Maybe I'll check out NY, NY someday but I don't have high hopes...

    Good luck!

    30 Replies
    1. re: Jill-O
      m
      Marshall Manning

      NYNY doesn't use rye (they might if you asked?) but they use a soft sandwich roll. The 6" is $6, and the 9" is $7, I believe. I get it with just pastrami and provolone and then bring it home and put some French mustard on it instead of the standard yellow mustard they use at NYNY.

      I don't think I've had their pastrami, but the sandwiches at Tribute's are usually really good, and it wouldn't surprise me if their pastrami is, too.

      Also, the house-cured pastrami sandwich at the Higgins bar sounded really good, and I'll get that the next time I visit for lunch.

      Marshall

      1. re: Marshall Manning

        If you really like and know pastrami (just got back from NYC and had the BEST at my personal fave, The Stage) Do yourself a favor and skip NYNY. As a previous poster said, they put it on a hoagie roll (?!!), with some mild cheese, like jack (??!!). Mustard is an afterthought. The people here seem very nice, but they are WAY out of their league, scarily so, when it comes to a pastrami sandwhich.

        Chefken, don't you want to try serving the best, if not the only, true pastrami sandwich in PDX? While I like the Stage, Second Ave., and Wolff's (RIP), the Carnegie is certainly a very worthy model!

        1. re: MichaelG
          b
          Brian Spangler

          Wow.. Wolff's! I almost forgot about them... R.I.P. Truly a great sandwich, not to mention their house made pickles.

          Brian Spangler
          Apizza Scholls

          1. re: Brian Spangler

            I long ago gave up on finding a good pastrami sandwich in Portland. I get my pastrami fix every year when I visit my brother in LA. That holds me for a while.

            1. re: vicki

              Ah. . .would that be Canter's Deli?

              1. re: vicki

                has to be Langers.
                I always get one to go for the plane rider home.

                Johneys is good and fun but not inthe same class as Langers

            2. re: MichaelG
              m
              Marshall Manning

              Michael, the quesiton isn't whether NYNY makes their sandwiches the same as places in New York (they use provolone, BTW). The question was who makes a good pastrami sandwich IN PORTLAND.

              Instead of criticizing other people's suggestions, why not come up with some useful suggestions of your own for places in town? Just because it isn't your preferred type doesn't mean someone else might not find it enjoyable.

              And there are some of us who don't like rye bread and would prefer another type.

              Marshall

              1. re: Marshall Manning

                Woah there, Marshall. Easy on the Red Bull, dude. I wish I had a recommendation for a better pastrami sandwich than NYNY, but I don't. Let's just put it this way: I wish someone warned me that the NYNY sandwich, while perhaps tasty to some, was as disappointing as it would have been if someone steered me to Godfather's for an authentic New York pizza pie. I went there, mouth a-watering, and came away hugely disappointed.

                As I said, the folks there seem to be nice, but to those in search of the authentic NY pastrami experience, I'm afraid I have to say either stay away, or get ready for something completely different.

                1. re: MichaelG
                  m
                  Marshall Manning

                  No Red Bull here...I'm more of a Red Burg guy.

                  The thing is that the original poster didn't ask about an "authentic NY pastrami experience", he said that his favorite was from LA, was on a sandwich roll instead of rye bread, and he was asking where he might be able to find something similar.

                  Maybe it's just me, but one of my pet peeves is when someone asks for something specific and after other people give him suggestions, they get responses like "that's not a REAL pastrami sandwich" or "it's not like it was back in New York/Boston/Pittsburgh/New Orleans/insert East Coast city here".

                  First, if someone is looking for something in Portland, telling them that there are better sandwiches in NYC doesn't really help him much. Second, who determines what a "real" sandwich is? I can't stand rye bread, and since I doubt the first pastrami was eaten with rye bread, why is that any more "real" than other bread choices? Just because it's NY tradition or what someone grew up with doesn't make it "real". "Real" pastrami (or pastirma) was created in Turkey, not NYC.

                  I can just see it...NYC circa 1905. Gennaro Lombardi cranks out his first pizza pies in America only to hear "this isn't REAL pizza, it's not exactly like it was back home in Italy."

                  Don't know if you saw "No Reservations" tonight, but a similar thing was brought up. Tony Bourdain was visiting Sicily and the guy he was with said that he had to try a cannoli. Tony, with his typical attitude, said that being from New York he's already had the best canoli (yes, I've heard people say that no one makes canoli as good as New York Italian restaurants!)...then he takes a bite of the Sicilian canoli, and his eyes light up. He's never had REAL canoli, apparently (G).

                  Marshall

                  1. re: Marshall Manning

                    Sorry Marshall,

                    You're out of your league on this one. Pastrami belongs on rye bread, period. Ask a latino if he'd prefer his carnitas on a hamburger bun, or ask someone in New Orleans if brown rice is ok for jambalaya. Sure, nobody's going to cart you away if you pile your pastrami on wonderbread and slather it with Miracle Whip..this is after all a "free country"; but please, allow those who know better the opportunity to gently steer the obviously uninitiated. Pastrami, regardless of your exhaustive internet research, is the very embodiment, the soul if you will, of the jewish deli. Portland does not, I repeat, does not have anything closely resembling a good jewish deli, so anyone suggesting that NYC or LA is the best place to get a good pastrami sandwich is doing the original poster a great service, and you my friend, should stick to wine, a subject (unlike this one) that you can speak to with some level of authority.

                    1. re: witzend
                      m
                      Marshall Manning

                      Despite your pompous comments and your inflated opinion of yourself and the importance of your culinary experience, you still don't get the point.

                      If someone is looking for a pastrami sandwich IN PORTLAND, it doesn't do them any good to tell them that the best sandwich is 3,000 miles away. So what...it's of no use to them right now. Do you want to try to be helpful to someone who is looking for a particular item, or do you just want to spout off about your impression of "real" food?

                      You may also want to consider that things change in the food world, and what you consider "real" or "authentic" may have only been around for 50 years, which is basically a fad in terms of time. I'm sure there are Turks out there who are complaining about the Jews stealing their pastrami, screwing it up by putting it on rye bread and taking all the credit.

                      Marshall

                      1. re: Marshall Manning

                        Actually, Marshall, I respectfully disagree with you. Sometimes it's nice to satisfy those food cravings for certain "authentic" food items from other regions.

                        Can we get a real authentic NY style pizza pie around here? As of recently, yes we can, at Apizza Scholls.

                        Can we get a real bowl of gumbo? I'd say yes, at Lagniappe.

                        Can we get some authentic dim sum? Sure, we all know about Wong's, but I wouldn't discount Louie's or Fongs.

                        Are authentic Mexican tacos available? Sure, as Extramsg has amply explained.

                        Can we find a real, authentic, fat-drenched, NY pastrami sandwich? The answer seems to be a resounding no. If you want to criticize others for not creating one out of thin air, or for unanimously lamenting their experiences at the place on Barbur, go for it. But the fact is, we're trying to help out other CH'ers, and it also sounds like there is an opportunity for someone to fill this void in Portland at some point.

                        In fact, it's quite possible that, due in part to our lengthy thread, there just may be a real, thick, juicy, and of course hot, pastrami sandwich available n rye in Portland within the next year.

                        But it will NOT be due to your repeated denials that none exist, or that some gutbomb made with provolone on a white hero roll hits the spot.

                        1. re: MichaelG
                          m
                          Marshall Manning

                          I have no problem at all with food that's originally from other areas, I eat a lot of it. My complaint is when people assume that's the ONLY way of making something or when it's assumed that it's the best way simply because it's traditional in one part of the country. I was also trying to point out that what's considered traditional or original may change, or what's considered to be "real" may depend upon where (and when) you were raised.

                          And it's worse when someone comes on here asking where he can get a good pastrami sandwich in Portland. He didn't ask for a NY-style pastrami sandwich, in fact, his description ("Anyone know of Johnny's Pastrami on Sepulveda in LA? THAT'S what I'm talking about. Juicy, steamy pastrami on a soft fresh white bun, nothing else. 3 different mustards and a bucket of pickles on the side.") sounds nothing like a NY-style sandwich. Yet people still have to say that there's no good pastrami sandwiches in Portland (even though my guess is they haven't tried every one) and recommend places 3,000 miles away. That doesn't help him. At least I tried to come up with a few suggestions for places that might make good sandwiches, and that would be within 10 miles. That's helping out a fellow hound, not telling him to just give up.

                          I haven't criticized anyone for anything in this thread other than in response to snide comments from people who claim that I "should stick to wine" or that other people can't possibly have any idea of what good sandwiches are because they aren't from New York.

                          Lastly, I'd love a place that served a NY-style pastrami sandwich, and would be a regular patron...as long as they'd put it on some real bread and not that rye crap (G).

                          Marshall

                          1. re: Marshall Manning

                            Wow. I leave the internet for a day or two and look what happens! Quite the stir in here over a friggin' pastrami sandwhich.

                            While I can appreciate everyone's suggestions on the subject- I must agree with Marshall on the fact that I was reminiscing about a specific sandwhich, not necessarily what is traditional to a Yankee.

                            I did not find EXACTLY what I'm looking for (yet), but in a sense, I got something better- a list of places to try that I have never been to. I may not find the ethereal "perfect" Pastrami, but I bet I stumble across some good eats in the process, which is all I can really ask for. (Like that Ruben recipe from the Goose Hollow Inn)

                            Sheesh. Such passion for food you people have! That's a good thing, though like all online communities, opinions and emotions run rampant on subjects near and dear to us all.

                            Now then, what's going to happen when I ask for the best Carne Asada Burrito? (Don't worry- I know it ONLY exists in San Diego)

                            1. re: pdxlizard

                              You mean San Francisco, right? Ha ha....

                              regards,
                              trillium

                              1. re: trillium

                                Trillium (if you're still scrolling down this far),

                                Out of curiosity, where in SF would you go for one? Went to school in SD, where Lolitas in Chula Vista and Roberto's by the Mission Beach coaster ruled. Lived in the Bay Area for 10 years after that, and could only get my fix at a place called "Aliberto's" in Vacaville and just outside of Sacramento.

                                Juicy Carne Asada, pico de gallo and guacamole. None of this rice, beans and produce nonsense!

                                Anyways- going back to SF in the not too distant future and would be interested to check out something new...

                                Cheers!

                                Jayson

                      2. re: witzend

                        I thought at first that this must be sarcasm but now I realize that it's just stupidity as usual.
                        Let's all just stick to salmon sandwiches with a side of wild mushrooms since there is no point in trying to find pastrami without a plane ticket in hand.

                        Jim

                        ps I will be trying carnitas on a hamburger bun. Thanks for the tip

                        1. re: Jim

                          Re: carnitas on a hamburger bun. It's called a torta and is quite tasty when you're in the mood. You can get them with carnitas, al pastor, lengua, pretty much anything that comes as a taco. They are an interesting amalgum of American sandwich meets Mexican taco stand. The better ones have real cheese, plenty of avacado, onion and mayonesa, the not-so-great ones have American cheese and too much lettuce. They all come on hamburger buns or even bigger hogie type buns. At Torta Gigante, which only does tortas, they're on a wonderful rich, homebaked tasting bun that would be like a hamburger bun if a hamburger bun was the size of a salad plate.

                          Aren't authenticity proclamations/arguments boring?

                          regards,
                          trillium

                          1. re: trillium

                            Yeah, boring sometimes. But more often than not they can be entertaining. They give some of us one more thing to make fun of when we are off line and enjoying a few local beers together. Which, by the way, are urine compared to some of the beers I had in Germany and Belgium.

                2. re: MichaelG

                  Guess I don't KNOW pastrami like a New Yawker, but I am a huge fan of the salty, spicy goodness that it is.

                  Will likely try NYNY since the Johnny's sandwich isn't exactly traditional either. Will let you all know what I think, but am still looking for your suggestions.

                  Thanks!

                  1. re: pdxlizard

                    I haven't had Tribute's or NYNY's. I still haven't actually eaten at NYNY at all (though I've sat down there twice). I generally trust Tribute pretty well on other things, so they might be worth a try.

                    I've had Higgin's pastrami sandwich (pictured below). Here's how they describe it:

                    "Open-faced sandwich of house-made pastrami, grilled onions & sharp white cheddar"

                    Not entirely traditional, but decent. Like their burger, expensive, though. They should double that pastrami at that price.

                    Image: http://extramsg.com/uploaded_misc/hig...

                  2. re: MichaelG

                    Wow! Talk about a challenge! And I just started trying to do the best BBQ in town...now I've got to tackle pastrami?
                    Let me think on it. Obviously, there's a lack of the real thing here, and a need for it.
                    And by the way, while I'm a big fan of 2nd Ave Deli in NYC, Carnegie is for tourists only. No real New Yorker would go there. They confuse bigger with better!

                    1. re: chefken

                      Oh, and by the way...I've seen pastrami here that's been sliced thin on a slicer, with all the fat trimmed off. Okay...it was Kornblatt's. What is that all about? Thick sliced, off the steam table, fat attached. Only way to go.

                      1. re: chefken

                        Did you say Kornblatt's? Oh please... the fakeusdeli of PDX.... even someone originally from upstate NY knows that place is not good..... Personally, I don't like pastrami..... but I can go for a decent Kosher salami.. or really good chopped liver

                    2. re: MichaelG

                      2nd Avenue, that's my standard! Fresh korn rye, mustard, moist juicy pastrami, half sour pickles on the table (at least when I was there). Can't get any of those things in Portland. Well, the mustard, but...

                    3. re: Marshall Manning

                      OK. I'd like to hit NYNY today to try it out. Anyone have an actual address for this place or at least a cross street or landmark?

                      Thanks!

                      Jayson

                      1. re: pdxlizard

                        7737 SW Barbur Blvd

                        Just take the Terwilliger exit off I-5 and then turn left onto Barbur. It's not that far up on your right. Or if you're downtown you can take Barbur the whole way.

                      2. re: Marshall Manning

                        I haven't had it for at least a year, but really liked the pastrami in the bar at Higgins. Enough fat to keep it nice and moist, good quality meat on good bread.

                        Link: http://www.portlandfoodanddrink.com

                      3. re: Jill-O

                        Yeah- I know. Not for you traditionalists (don't get me wrong, I can appreciate good pastrami no matter what bread they serve it on), but you love what you love- and man I'd love one of them Johnny's right about now.

                        Thanks for the welcome and reply. I'll give NY NY a try, as well as the one at Higgins as Marshall replied. Who knows- maybe NY NY is run by another one of you transplants!?

                        Cheers!

                        1. re: Jill-O

                          I heard Casba on NW 2nd and Davis has a good Pastrami sandwich. I've never had it myself, though, and since I'm from Portland and dislike rye with caraway seeds, I would not eat a pastrami sandwich "right" anyhow. I'd like someone who KNOWS a good pastrami sandwich to go there and try it out and let me know how it compares to other such fare in this town.Best regards,Amanda

                        2. b
                          Brian Spangler

                          Unfortunately, you won't find anything close to Johnny's, or my personal favorite, Carnagie Deli in Manhattan, here in Portland.... boy do I wish you could.

                          Higgins makes a good pastrami sandwich, but it is not of the classic deli variety. It is served open faced with a side of his house made pickles, which are more of the sweet brine style, rather than sour, and they are a mix of various vegetables. It is only available at the bar, btw.

                          Brian Spangler
                          Apizza Scholls

                          1. I've had a wonderful pastrami sandwich at Higgins several times. It's available at lunch and is made with house-made pastrami. Definitely flavorful with the right amount of fat with just the right amount of cheese. It's not a New York-style pastrami as it's on Ken's wonderful bread, but it's not trying to be. It's an awesome variation of the pastrami sandwich and well worth a visit. Besides, it comes with awesome pickles!

                            Sarah

                            1. Just tried the NYNY sandwich.

                              Hoagie split and toasted, Pastrami, Mustard and a slice of Provolone, melted on top. Pepperoncini and dill sliver on the side. That's the standard prep for this place, which is nice that I didn't have to ask that they keep the salad garnish off of the sandwich.

                              Not a bad sandwich, but still not quite what I'm looking for. He microwaved the pastrami a bit, then threw it on the bun with the cheese and then into the pizza oven for a few minutes. I'm hunting for that pastrami that comes right out of the steamer- piping hot, with fat and all.

                              Pat- the NYNY purveyor was a nice guy, and stated that his Pastrami sandwich was just OK, while lamenting the fact that he doesn't even know of a good Jewish deli in town.

                              I'll try the other places that chowhounds have recommended and let you know my humble opinion. Though the fact that there really have been only 3 or maybe 4 half-hearted suggestions, I'm not so sure I'm going to find Pastrami nirvana here in P-town. Not to worry- it's about that time of year for smoked salmon hash anyways...

                              Jayson

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: pdxlizard

                                Higgins makes their own pastrami, as does Viande. But I doubt either are very traditional, and you have to get lucky to have Viande's straight out of the steamer/smoker. And they don't make sandwiches.

                              2. l
                                LA Transplant

                                I realize that we're talking true pastrami sandwich here, and quite frankly I don't think anyone in PDX makes one. I'm spoiled by the stage deli in NY, and Nate and Al's in LA. However...If a Reuben can be in contention for the purposes of this conversation, I think the Reuben they serve at Carlyle (lunch) is right up there with the best of them; Nicely grilled corn rye, housemade pastrami, kraut, swiss, and the ubiquitous russian dressing. Also comes with stellar fries that I ask for extra russion dressing for.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: LA Transplant

                                  The Goose Hollow Inn makes the best Reuben in Portland. Bud claims planetary superiority for it, but I'm not so sure about that. Thing is, Reubens use straight corned beef, rather than pastrami. I'm not sure where they get their corned beef. In any case, I defy you to read the recipe in the link below and not get hungry.

                                  Link: http://goosehollowinn.com/events.html