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Corn beef special

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Looking for recommendations for the best corn beef special in Center City within a lunchtime walk from Rittenhouse Square. Also some questions:

-- Is the corn beef special sandwich (defined as sliced corned beef with cole slaw and Russian dressing on rye) a native Phila. item? Is it widely available elsewhere on the east coast?

-- Isn't a "special"--at least as it is meant in Phila a sandwich that contains cole slaw and Russian dressing on RYE bread? Is there a sandwich that is a "special" that is on another type of bread? Wouldn't that be sacreligious?

thanks -- ARH


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  1. Pardon a suggestion of the obvious, but Corned Beef Academy on the 1600 block of Walnut serves a very good version of the sandwich.

    I haven't seen the "special" elsewhere so it may well be a Philly thing. In Philadelphia, at least, with our strong traditions, it should be on rye bread.

    Slight message drift: If I'm going that direction (corned beef) for lunch I'd much rather dive into the greasiest of all sandwiches, the Little Pete's Reuben. At my business, people can tell when I'm having a particularly stress full day. No valium is needed when delivery guy from Little Pete's shows up with a Rueben.

    Holly Moore
    HollyEats.Com

    Link: http://www.HollyEats.Com

    1 Reply
    1. re: Holly Moore

      On the Reuben thread...

      There seem to be many places that have the typical 'grilled reuben' (a true sandwich, albeit wonderfully greasy to eat).

      But I haven't seen too many places with the open-faced 'reuben platter', which usually has such an enormous amount of corned beef and (hopefully) an insanely large amount of melted cheese on top, preferably slightly browned by a broiler. Any local Philly suggestions? I'm sure maybe one of the Jersey-side diners must serve an over-the-top platter.

      -=$>Dave<$=-

    2. Well, when I was in Jr. High in Atlantic City I sat next to a girl named Leona Kornblau whose family had the biggest and best Deli on Absecon Island. They were famous for their "Kornblau Special".
      We always thought it was their own invention. This was in 1943 and they were still there in 1955, last I remember. They are gone now.
      It was :Corned Beef, cole slaw and russian dressing on homemade rye!! Whenever I go to a Deli at one of the Casinos I look for it, haven't found it yet. Guess I'll have to go to Philly. but at least now my kids won't think I am crazy when I describe it to them. Thanks!!! Next time we take the grandkids to the zoo we'll introduce them to it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Grannypnuts

        This is amazing. I was just thinking about my favorite sandwich, the Kornblau's Special from my childhood. When my family went to Atlantic City to visit garndparents we always went down the street a block away on Virginia Avenue for a Kornblau's Special. Last time I was there was in 1963, and I still consider it the best sandwich ever.

      2. h
        Herbert Chan

        I'd look into Pastrami 'n Things at 15th and Locust. I've never tried the special, since I can't bear to order anything but their excellent pastrami, but one of my coworkers gets the corned beef all the time. (doesn't the corned beef really make or break the special??)

        1. A couple more ideas for corned beef special - Famous 4th St Deli on 19th St. and, a little walk, Hershel's in Reading Terminal Market.