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Bye Bye Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop

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Had one of the worst experiences at Eisenberg's that I've ever had in a NYC restaurant. This institution needs to realize that you can't coast on a reputation -- and you need to have some concern for the customer. It's a shame.

Medium rare cheeseburger arrived beyond well done - and with american cheese when swiss was ordered. It was sent back and 15 minutes later, it reappeared -- the SAME burger now even more cooked (if that was even possible) -- and with two slices of unmelted swiss thrown on a piece of white bread. When I complained again, they asked if I wanted them to heat up the burger! I walked out. The owner was at the door. He told me "gee, you should have told me."

Another note -- the entire time I was there staff was complaining about people coming in when they were closing in a half hour.

Bye Bye Eisenbergs.

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  1. on my only visit to Eisenberg's, it took them three tries to make me a BLT with mustard, not mayo. They were nice about it, I have to say.

    1. I dont have much good to say about Eisenberg's unfortunately.

      1. I would be remiss if I didn't issue a voice of dissent on this topic. I work in the area and go to Eisenberg's probably once a week. You don't go to Eisenberg's for the service. You go because their sandwiches are some of the best in the neighborhood and if you've been at least a couple of times the waitstaff usually remembers you and is happy to see you. They may be a little disorganized but I respect a place that, despite many changes of ownership, has kept on their aging and somewhat harried staff. Call me crazy, but overhearing Rosie and Phil get into an argument because what she needed was tuna on wheat not tuna on rye just makes me feel more like a part of the Eisenberg's family...

        7 Replies
        1. re: nychowgirl

          I second nychowgirl. First off, you don't go to Eisenberg's for cheeseburgers. Just looking at the place will tell you they are not set up for that, and ordering one is asking for trouble. Why they even offer it is beyond me. I won't even order the pastrami - it just looks like a hassle for them to make it. Instead I stick with the tuna - which is excellent - and the BLT - which is even more excellent. And sure, service there won't remind anyone of a well oiled machine, but if that's not part of the fun for you, you shouldn't be going at all.

          1. re: cheapskate

            well said by both cheapskate and nychowgirl. I have never seen a cheeseburger ordered there. maybe that contributed to the debacle. stick with BLT, tuna or chicken salad. their turkey club is okay too.

            1. re: Yaxpac

              I think they only added cheeseburgers to their menu about a year ago...

              1. re: nychowgirl

                I'm of two minds regarding Eisenberg's. One, it's a NYC institution-ish place- i.e. the counter, the service, prices, egg creams, location. The other, they are the ultimate "assemblers" of sandwiches- i.e. they pull two slices of white bread from a generic package of ABC white bread, pull out out some ham from a generic package, and same for cheese. Then slap it in the sandwich press.- all right in front of you. And I guess a lot of places can be reduced to that. But all, things considered, I think I sentimentally lean toward the institution aspect of it. That sandwich press is a piece of history...And it's such an easy place to just sit down and eat something simple.

            2. re: cheapskate

              the tuna is probably one of the only edible things but is hardly noteworthy.

            3. re: nychowgirl

              I beg to differ, if you haven't had a pastrami sandwich at Eisenberg's with a side of onion rings and a lime rickey, you're missing out. I have to say it was a really outstanding pastrami sandwich. I work down the street from them and call for delivery when I really need some comfort food. I always put the phone down chuckling because they are such characters there...and then the food arrives within 5 minutes of calling. I had a grilled cheese and tomato the other day that was pretty gross, but for some reason if it's from Eisenberg's I don't mind.

              1. re: nychowgirl

                I couldn't agree more. I don't live in NYC, but every time I'm there, I make it a point to go to Eisenberg's because they have the best sandwiches and the best egg creams. It's a neighborhood business from top to bottom. They don't even give you a bill. You just go to the cash register and they trust you to be honest with what you ordered. And, by the way, you should definitely order the corned beef and pastrami with swiss on rye. Amazing!

              2. I don't think you can go wrong with a tuna, chicken or egg salad sandwich there. The sandwiches are generous in size and reasonably priced. I like the place myself.

                1. i love eisenberg's. my only complaint with the service is that sometimes it's too chatty for me. my favorite sandwich is a tuna/egg salad combo on rye.

                  1. I used to go to Eisenberg's at least once a week when I worked in the area. I had an appoinment nearby last week and asked the SO to meet me there. I was early and and as soon as I stepped inside the smell of rancid grease hit me. I waited outside and we had lunch elsewhere. Sorry to say, but since they expanded the quaility went way down. The tuna salad is great but who needs to smell like a grease trap when returning to work? I won't dine there anymore.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Sweatshirt Guy

                      They didn't expand. They added burgers to the menu to provide an alternative to the Shake Shake waits.

                      1. re: Beans

                        They did expand. There never was the back room until about 2 years ago. Please I ate there all the time.

                        1. re: Sweatshirt Guy

                          No need for hostility. "Restaurant expansion" can also imply that another branch has been opened, which is a common reason for the diminishing quality of food at an establishment. In this case, I don't believe food quality is/was affected one way or the other by the mere opening of the back room to the public.

                          If you are referring to the change in ownership (which took place about a year ago now .... see the NY Times article), I have to say that the new owner has definitely made E's more customer friendly. Custom orders were not an option two years. I couldn't even order a half sandwich.

                          Yeah, you'll have some bad meals there. I've had many a boring tuna sandwich there and I'm not big on the turkey. I've never had the burgers, but I would be hesitant to try them anyway, especially with Shake Shack across the way (well not in the winter). Stick to the diner staples (simple sandwiches, etc) and you should be OK. It's clearly not for everyone. As you pointed out, the greasy spoon atmosphere leaves something to be desired for some. For me, it's a slice of old NY sprinkled in between (literally) the Jambas Juices and T-Mobile stores. And judging by some of these other responses and the fact that's it been open since '29, I'm not alone in my opinion.

                          1. re: Beans

                            Old NY needn't smell like a grease trap. It never used to. I did not know that they changed ownership. Maybe that is the reason for the slide in quaility. My tuna sandwiches were always great there.

                    2. I'm sure the Tuna is good.. The point is reheating the SAME well done burger nearly three times is laughable. The worst deli in the city would not do that. Also, making it so apparent that you want everyone to just leave the restaurant so that you can close (in 45 minutes) is offensive.

                      1. I work in the area a few times a year.. I often order from Eisenbergs and have never had a problem.. I also think the people answering the phones are extremely friendly and funny.. I dont think you can completely discredit a restaurant that has been open for so many years because of one bad experience..

                        Obviously, it sucks that happened to you, but was this your only experience.. Also, a burger might be one of the last things I would order there..Next time get a deli sandwich and a lime ricky and you will be fine.

                        1. Would be sad to see them go, but then, nothing's permanent, is it? Used to work around the corner in the early '90's. Admittedly, I have not been there too much since, say, '93, but the tuna on rye is definitely gold-plated in my mind as a supreme NYC comfort food. The service always, on every visit, seemed to be on the verge of complete implosion, but they always seemed to get the job done. I have always rooted for this place to keep on piling those brown bags high and deep at the narrow counter; more and more, they are not just the neighborhood legend, but the underdog as well.

                          1. I like Eisenberg's just fine (I get the chicken salad and bacon). I will, however, say that I've been thoroughly underwhelmed by the Eisenburger. Just a big hunk of flavorless meat...

                            1. The quality of the meat is high, but that doesn't translate into a good burger. I overheard the owner once criticize the shack burgers because they use a fattier, lower quality cut of meat. Well, duh -- it's a burger and the fat adds flavor.

                              That said, I've never noticed any unusual grease smell. And my nose is pretty sensitive.

                              1. I agree with the posters who feel this place is more about sentimentality than good food. I used to live one block from Eisenberg's and went with some frequency as it was convenient. I stopped after I saw several bugs scampering on the countertop.

                                I was with my dad who was visiting town and he commented that he was just glad my mother wasn't there.

                                I know all restos probably have bugs to some degree, but this was way more egregious than I have seen in other restos.

                                The OP's burger experience is unexcusable. It sounds like it was not the original screw up that was so bad but their inability to figure out how to fix it.

                                1. We were mislead into believing Eisenburg's was some place special. Unfortunately it was only after I ordered the soup that I saw the label of a giant can of Campbellā€™s chicken noodle soup peering at me from the kitchen. The pastrami, while acceptable, paled in comparison to Katz's. Where upon we immediately realized our mistake of not going there instead. The unspectacular seedless rye we assumed was store bought. Noticeably absent were the pickles and brown mustard. Service was cheerful but the place overall looked run down, signifying an establishment that is way past its prime.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: little_puff

                                    sure, some people are turned off by the old look. But i kinda like a place that probably looks the same as it did 20,30,40,50 yrs ago. I love the Matzo ball soup, the tuna sandwich and the pastrami is pretty damn good too. I usually eat there 1-2 times a week
                                    and i think alot of people agree with me because you usually cant get a seat at the counter. I hope it stick arounds another 10, 20 yrs.

                                  2. Went here on the strength of the recommendations from this website, and I just don't get it. Yeah, it's got a great old fashioned look, frozen in time etc. but the food? We had a variety of things, and nothing at all was worth coming back for, including the "classic tuna sandwich" or the "classic lime rickey". I can't eat atmosphere.

                                    1. The place is fine. It's just a lunch counter / greasy spoon... what exactly are you expecting? These places used to be a dime a dozen, now there's just a few left so of course it's at or near the top of a very short list. The food is better than any chain or fast food joint that gets tuna delivered by the vat load from some commercial processor. If your expectations are in check, Eisenberg's is still very enjoyable and it's too bad there aren't more places like it.

                                      1. I can't defend Eisenberg's but your subject line made me think they were closing.

                                        1 Reply