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What goes better with pastrami?

O.K. this is an on going stupid argument that me and a friend are having. The argument is; which is the more traditional accompaniement for a good pastrami sandwhich; french fries or potato salad? We live in Dayton, Ohio and you can't get a good pastrami sandwhich without driving a 100 miles. I grew up in NJ and remember my parents going to the local deli and comming home with pastrami, rye bread and a pint of potato salad (usually German), so I say potato salad. My friend who was born and raised in the Dayton area, but is married to a NJ girl, and goes back to NJ about once a year and raves about the steak fries he gets with his pastrami sandwhich, he says fries! What do you east coast Chowhounds think, salad or fries? Like I said this is a stupid argument, let me know what you think.

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  1. I grew up in NJ as well and vote potato salad but would never use German Potato Salad with the best sandwich in the world. NJ had three great pastrami places in my neighborhood, Goodmans in Elizabeth, Kartzmans in Union and Tabatchnicks in Millburn. Keep the sandwich simple with rye bread (seedless)and a great brown mustard, never yellow. The potato sald had to be mayo-based. The German variety with the mustard and eggs would cloud the true flavor of the meat. The only add-on that would be allowed on the sandwich was a little cole slaw. Dr. Browns cream soda, root beer or celray on the side. Fries go with burgers and dogs, not pastrami or corned beef.

    1. Neither. Potato Knish.

      PS The delis I knew growing up didn't even have the option of fries or potato salad. I never ate potato salad (or mayo for that matter) until I got to college. Kasha varnishkes, stuffed derma, cole slaw (vinegar based) are some other options.

      12 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        Damn right. A potato knish, sour or half-sour pickles, pickled tomatoes, or maybe cole slaw. If the deli has really good ones, maybe a potato pancake with applesauce.

        Certainly some great Jewish delis have good potato salad or competent fries, but neither one is a "Jewish deli" item.

        Jfood forgot one other Dr. Brown's flavor: black cherry. Me, I'm a Cel-Ray drinker.

        1. re: hatless

          Cole slaw and sour pickles.

          For drink, there is only one choice (for me at least) and that is Dr. Brown's black cherry, but i'll give a free pass to any of the Dr. Brown's variety.

          1. re: hatless

            I agree about either a knish of some sort or preferably a pickle assortment with a few sours, half soures, garlic, news, and pickled tomatoes. Heck if you have a proper pastrami sandwich, hot, hand sliced, juicy, fatty meat piled six inches high on rye with mustard, you don't have room for more than a few pickles. Of course you have to have either a Cel-Rey or an egg cream.

            1. re: JMF

              no, it's pastrami on white with Miracle Whip and a glass of milk....

              1. re: Karl S

                Get out.

                Seriously, leave. Now.

                (And take your pastrami on white with Miracle whip, lettuce and tomato, and your glass of expressed cow liquid with you, you heretic!)


                1. re: Karl S

                  Classic ...

                  That combo is good with turkey pastrami, too. Give it a try.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    okeedokee, everyone who puts pastrami on white, please apologize, and if you add mayo please leave the room. it has taken me several days to recover from the idea of such denegration. It's a shanda to do this and anyone who understands shanda understands my comments.

                    Please Karl, so it ain't so Joe, oops sorry wrong Sox for you.

                    1. re: Karl S

                      Miracle Whip is the devil's "food." Manna from Hell.

                    2. re: JMF

                      Also from Jersey originally and agree about the knish paired with pastrami...lordy, lordy how I do miss a good Jewish deli here is w.a.s.py SW Florida...sort of like sub shops here asking if you want mayo on an Italian sub, makes me want to jump over the counter and, well...

                      1. re: Val

                        Mayo is heresy on pastrami, as even this mayo-lover will admit...but MIRACLE WHIP is fit for no good culinary purpose whatsoever, on any kind of sandwich, under any circumstances. Vile substance, only technically edible...

                        1. re: Val

                          I just read that your in SW Fla, I was in Naples in May,2005 and had a pretty good pastrami sandwhich at Pastami Dan's. Have you been there? It wasn't on a good rye bread, I think it was on a sub bun or something, but the pastrami was really good (by Dayton, Ohio stanards).

                      2. re: hatless

                        I bought some Cel-Ray at a farmer's market in Portland, OR. I brought it home and saved it for the perfect sandwich. It ended up being a pastrami!! I'd never had a Cel-Ray before that in my entire life. It really tastes like cold celery.

                    3. A corned beef sandwich.

                      1. Yeah, well potato knishes are another thing you can't get in Dayton, Ohio. When I've had them they are a great side to a pastrami or corned beef sandwich.

                        Unfortunately we don't have a good deli in Dayton, you have to drive to Cincinati or Indy to find half way good one.

                        Regarding German Potato Salad, the kind I remember from some deli's in the Teaneck/Hackensack NJ area didn't have mayo or eggs in them. It was usually made with a vinegar/sugar dressing and simply had thinly sliced potato and onions in it. I don't think it had any bacon or bacon fat in it like I've seen in midwestern recipes for the same dish.

                        We do have Dr. Brown's out here and that's what I order when I do go to a Cincy or Indy deli.

                        1. Neither. A nice potato pancake. Or slaw.

                          1. Cole slaw, w' a garlic dill , or a pickled tomato and some Cel-ray.

                            1. Potato knish, latkes, or cole slaw. NEVER German potato salad -- it wasn't kosher. Always pickles -- half sour or full -- and pickled green tomatoes.

                              I've never had fries with a pastrami sandwich. I can imagine it, but it doesn't seem right.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                I've always thought German-style potato salad contained vinegar, but no mayo. What makes it not kosher?

                                1. re: Darren72

                                  German potato salad in the US usually means with bacon.

                                  Btw, mayo is pareve, not dairy (eggs are not dairy), so it's OK with fleshmeat. I don't recall but Miracle Whip at one time may have been dairy rather than pareve. Any

                                  1. re: Karl S

                                    Thanks. I didn't realize it had bacon. That would be off limits. ;)

                                    1. re: Karl S

                                      You're right that mayo is pareve. We didn't keep kosher, anyway. We just never had it in our house growing up in NY and didn't know any one who did.

                                  2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    I think the reason it doesn't seem right is that you want something to cut the fat of the pastrami, and fries are possibly even fattier, and also starchy and therefore too filling/bloating in that context. Pickles and cole slaw (despite the mayo) are more vegetable and less fatty, so they go well with the pastrami. That's why the Dr. Brown's soda is good, too (soda helps to counteract fat, somehow). Having a potato knish or latkes with a fatty pastrami sandwich seems a little excessive to me, but I take everyone's word for it.

                                    Katz's (my local Jewish deli!) does make decent fries, I thought when my friend ordered some, but I never order them. When I go there, I usually get my pastrami sandwich (on rye without mustard, just a personal preference) with half-sours (ditto), cole slaw, and Cel-Ray.

                                    1. re: Pan

                                      That would be the way I would go. I am picky about condiments (quality and quantity) and generally order my sandwiches dry rather than risk excessive amounts of mediocre goop. As for pastrami, if any place boasts how lean its is, I know to not bother.

                                      1. re: Pan

                                        Katz's your local deli!!! Rough...
                                        Don't rub it in or gloat... for we who are deli-deprived! 9and Russ and Daughters, and Gertels and Pickles....!

                                        1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                          Yeah, I know. Life is shver, ain't it? But while it's nice that Katz's is there, I can't go more often than every 2 months or so. Too heavy and fatty.

                                    2. Fries are actually really common in NYC area delis, and are one of the things a lot of folks remember fondly from the heyday of the great delis (just ask Jim Leff). Always seemed a bit weird to me, since I'm from Detroit, where potato salad or cole slaw were much more common sandwich accompaniments in local delis (there were no knishes), and fries would have been seen as a very goyish order. Potato salad (creamy version) is, of course, served in NYC delis, and is very much my preferred option, but it seems to me that for those raised in NYC the deli french fries are very often talked about.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Woodside Al

                                        Boy from Brooklyn here....My Dad and i always had corned beef or pastrami on "Club" bread, brown deli mustard, half sour pickle, Dr. Browns cream soda AND big steak fries..(always asked for them crisp or "well done")

                                      2. Brooklyn-born Bay Area resident here...it has to be potato salad w/mayo, Dr Brown's (Cel-Ray or Black Cherry), half sour pickle (Ba-Tampte if not homemade), and nothing else. Cole slaw only if you don't like potato salad (and who belongs in that category??). Same accompaniments for corned beef, BTW.

                                        Same situation in my area--not a good Jewish deli for miles around. The only one that was here (Brothers, in Burlingame) went downhill under new ownership, closed and relocated a few miles away. No word yet on whether it's good or not.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: rednails

                                          I do. That is, I don't like mayonnaise with potatoes; texture is too slimy, chalky. I prefer a vinegar-based potato salad, like lots of folks.

                                          1. re: Karl S

                                            I meant "who doesn't like potato salad in general", not who doesn't like mayo-based potato salads. Sorry if I offended anyone!

                                            1. re: rednails

                                              Since I don't like potatoes in general (I think it's the texture) I do eat crisp fries...potato salad of any kind I just leave alone...

                                        2. Macaroni Salad, some cole slaw and a nice dill.

                                          1. Having grown up in Dayton, I didn't know what I was missing in regards to having a good deli. I seem to recall a place called The Upper Krust but it doesn't come close to what I have had since leaving.

                                            Here in Fairfax, Virginia we have Chutzpah Deli. A bowl of cole slaw and pickles is automatically put down before you order.

                                            Now...if we could just get a graeters next door....

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: rHairing

                                              Yes, I love the Chutzpah Deli! An Oasis of NY tastes in VA!

                                            2. I grew up in the Bronx, the only way that i ever had a pastrami sandwich growing up was with coleslaw and a sour pickle. Usually with a Dr Browns Cream Soda as a beverage. Maybe some chopped liver as a an appetizer. Come to think of it i usually had a hot open tongue sandwich with brown gravy and would get fries with that to dip inot the gravy. But not pastrami.

                                              1. The last Upper Krust in Dayton is closing this Saturday. In a pinch you could get an o.k. pastrami sandwich and Dr. Brown's. My big problem with the Upper Krust is the size of the sandwich. The whole sandwich had about 4 oz. of pastrami on it and they wouldn't add any extra even if you were willing to pay for it.

                                                1. If the pastrami is big enough, nothing is needed. Otherwise, cole slaw.

                                                  1. On the knish question: the proper knish to have with a pastrami sandwich (on rye, brown mustard, a nice pickle or two, a Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray, maybe a little cole slaw) is definitely a kasha knish.

                                                    Potato knishes are for corned beef and/or specials. Fries are for franks.

                                                    1. In my very New England, non-Jewish household, (peanut butter and bacon on white bread with a fried egg on the side and a glass of milk was a staple breakfast), hot pastrami on rye sandwiches were served with mustard, dill pickles and potato chips. Coleslaw if my grandmother had made it.

                                                      1. I'm a girl from Brooklyn. Definitely fries! My favorite in NYC is fatty hot pastrami with fries at Sarge's Deli on Third Ave. It can't be beat! Almost forgot: cream soda.

                                                        1. I'm sorry to show my ignorance, but is Sarge's in Brooklyn or Manhatten?

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: jackrugby

                                                            3rd Ave. betw. 36th & 37th Sts. Manhattan.

                                                          2. From Northern NJ originally (transplant to Boston) - a pickle and a Dr. Brown's Cherry or Cream soda on the side only. But that's just because I hated coleslaw as a kid.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: gini

                                                              Ahhhh....Dr. Brown's. Does that bring back memories...

                                                              I'm also from NJ and I definitely say potato salad. I can't imagine getting fries at a deli. It's either a good mayo-based potato salad or cole slaw (or both!), a pickle and a Dr. Brown's cream soda. Man oh man, could I go for that combo right about now!

                                                            2. Neither, cole slaw is best.

                                                              1. In my hometown, Montreal, they have not only perfected pastrami (we call it "smoked meat") but have also perfected its accompaniment: crispy fries with vinegar (white, not malt) and ketchup, a hot pickeld banana pepper, vinegary cole slaw, a half-sour pickle and a black cherry soda.

                                                                Heaven on earth.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: YYZSolly

                                                                  solly, montreal smoked meat is a wonderful thing, but it ain't pastrami. two completely different ways to eat the cow, my friend. pastrami is also smoked, but has more spices than ``smoked meat.'' personally, i love em both.

                                                                  1. re: YYZSolly

                                                                    Is this smoked meat different from say a bbq briskit?

                                                                    1. re: sailormouth

                                                                      yes. ``smoked meat'' is kinda almost like pastrami, but with fewer spices. nothing to do with bbq.