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Detroit-- best corned beef or pastrami sandwich?

Just what is the best corned beef sandwich in metro Detroit? I've been to numerous delis in the metro area, mostly in Dearborn, to sample corned beef, but I haven't tasted any as good as the Star Deli in Southfield (24555 W 12 Mile Rd on the SW corner at Telegraph next to Starbucks). It's a hole in the wall--take out only.

I don't remember if I learned of the Star Deli first from a post by chowhound Cheri or from my neighbor when, at her son's Bar Mitzvah, I inquired as to what is the best Jewish Deli in the Detroit area, but I am thankful. Just as what makes a good burger is the beef, not the bun, cheddar, or grilled onions, so what makes a good corned beef sandwich is the corned beef, not the rye, swiss, or slaw. The corned beef at the Star is not the least bit chewy--it crumbles when you bite.

Oh yes, I've been to Zingermans, and their corned beef sandwich is good too. But I'm waiting to hit powerball before I return.

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  1. There is a little gem on 8 Mile Road, the north side, just west of Gratiot called House of Reuben. I lived in the area and have been going there since 1967. The menu hasn't changed, though the owner have. But the food is as good as I remember it from my youth. They still use 8A as the large reuben, and it is. The corned beef is lean, the pastrami tasty. Oh yeah, only about 11 stools, no tables, all counter dining.

    The place doesn't look like much, but as your momma told you, don't judge a book by its cover.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mty917

      If the place doesn't look like much but it's been in business for over 40 years, then you know the chow has to be good. I'll have to find it.

      1. re: dearborn barkis

        House of reuben IMMEDIATELY came to mind when I read your post...You Will not be disappointed ! Huge sandwich, with piled high corned beef at a price you won't need the powerball to afford. The place is owned by Armenians (fyi), try their grilled chicken, and the beef barley soup is awesome too ! Go hungry ! They have another location in a remodeled taco bell west of freedom hill on 16 mile (sterling heights ?) Two more reccomendations #1 eph mcNallys (http://ephmcnallys.com) eclectic sandwich shop in Corktown and a new location on Woodward Downtown. #2 Gratiot Central Market (There is a sandwich shop (hambones ?) located in the market that specializes in STACKED Ham sandwiches (I think they offer Ruebens Too) . Enjoy !

        1. re: bigcab

          House of Reuben... I went to location SW of 16 & Van Dyke - in the former Taco Bell.

          Reuben was amazing. Beef barley soup was good, but I went there for a reuben, and it was gooooood.

    2. Hey barkis. I, too, am familiar with the Star Deli, and while it's certainly no slouch, the corned beef at Stage & Co. in West Bloomfield (on Orchard Lake Road a bit south of Maple) is the best I've had. It's *not* inexpensive, either: my corned beef on Jewish rye with cole slaw and Russian dressing runs an eye-popping $11. Plus tax and tip. And yes, that is an outrageously high price. I fully admit this, and yes, it bugs me. Adding to that is the pretty lousy service the place has. I don't go there often.

      BUT! You knew I wouldn't leave you hanging out to dry, now didn't you? Anyway, the best idea is not to go to the actual original deli in West Bloomfield, but to go to one of the satellite locations that they have in a few of the local malls, like Somerset Collection for example. There's one in their food court area. I don't like to shop there, but hey: they do have Stage & Co. in their food court, and it's hard not to go. BEST OF ALL: the same sandwich that costs $11 at the West Bloomfield location only costs around $7 at the Somerset Collection, and it's just as good. It really is a cut above any other corned beef I've ever had. Star is good, but Stage is better for sure.

      Give it a try and tell me what you think. I'm betting you'll "see the light," so to speak. ;)

      1 Reply
      1. re: boagman

        I use to frequent the Stage Deli at Fairlane Town Center's food court in Dearborn. It was good. But unfortunately they closed. I guess at $7 a sandwich they were pricier than the competition-- A&W, Kerby's, Sbarro's, Taco Time, Bourbon Street Chicken, and a corn dog specialist whose name I can't recall. There was always a line, however. I don't know why they closed.

        Unfortunately I usually shop at K-Mart and Target--not Somerset Collection. But Somerset is great for a stroll when the weather is chilly, like today. I'll have to get go to the food court to get a corned beef sandwich.

      2. The Star is pretty damn good (I used to go there when I worked nearby, and miss it) and I am a big fan of Lou's Deli. It has lots of locations but the "flagship" is at 6 and Wyoming, near Marygrove College. NO ambiance and bulletproof glass, but great sandwiches.

        11 Replies
        1. re: AmyIM

          I like the Bread Basket, at Greenfield at Lincoln (10 1/2 Mile). Huge sandwiches, great crusty bread. I know they now have several outposts, but the original location is best. Also much cheaper than Stage.

          1. re: gooddog

            Ick. Much lousier than the Stage, too. And the Star. In fact, when I tried the BBD, I did try the original location, and it was some of the most tasteless corned beef I'd ever had in my entire life. I guess there's a *reason* that it's cheaper.

            Stage continues to get my money, though Star isn't bad, either.

            1. re: boagman

              I have to disagree 100% with the slam on Bread Basket. It is, in fact, some of the most flavorful corned beef to be found anywhere (the original location in Oak Park). I grew up in Southfield and have enjoyed many dozens of corned beef sandwiches at both BB and Star over the years. I've also worked in two deli's. There's absolutely no way that Star is superior to Bread Basket. In fact, the quality of food is pretty similar except that the sandwiches are a bit larger at Bread Basket. The only thing you have to do (at either place) is pay a bit more for extra lean. I've also had Zingerman's a few times, and what I've had there hasn't been on a higher plane than Bread Basket.

              With all of that said, this is my personal taste. I don't claim to be the ultimate authority on corned beef, just someone who loves it and has had more than my share of it over the years.

              DB, I hope you try as many of the suggestions as possible and let us know what some of your favorites end up being.

              1. re: Jeff from Michigan

                "I have to disagree 100% with the slam on Bread Basket. It is, in fact, some of the most flavorful corned beef to be found anywhere (the original location in Oak Park). I grew up in Southfield and have enjoyed many dozens of corned beef sandwiches at both BB and Star over the years. I've also worked in two deli's. There's absolutely no way that Star is superior to Bread Basket. In fact, the quality of food is pretty similar except that the sandwiches are a bit larger at Bread Basket."

                Well, we can just agree to disagree without being disagreeable, then. I'll put it this way, though: on another food-related website, I made the same claim to someone who *also* swore by the BBD. On my recommendation, he tried the BBD again, and wholeheartedly agreed with my assessment. The meat itself was basically flavorless, or at least the most flavorless corned beef I (or he) had ever had in his life. In a corned beef sandwich, the most important part to get right is the *meat*. Simply because they give you a *lot* of flavorless meat doesn't make it good. Then again, perhaps I was there on a particularly bad day at the place, and when the other person went, the same thing happened. The odds of that happening, though, are pretty astronomical.

                Glad you like it, though. I'll continue to patronize the Stage.

                1. re: boagman

                  Bread Basket Deli vs Lou's Deli---

                  Before me I have two half-eaten corned beef sandwiches--one from Bread Basket Deli and one from Lou's Deli (on Greenfield and 9-mile, sorry I didn't go to the flagship in Detroit, but this store is only 2 miles from BBD). Both are corned beef (cold, not heated) on Jewish rye, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese, and cole slaw. The classic Dinty Moore. Each cost $8 and change.

                  The rye bread on each is nearly identical, fresh with crispy crust. But the BBD sandwich is much more substantial in size, has *real* creamy cole slaw, substantial swiss cheese, and excellent tangy Russian dressing. The cole slaw on the Lou's deli sandwich looks like it's shredded lettuce--it's that dry. And the swiss cheese is so thin that I had to check that it was there. Lou's Russian dressing is miniscule--not enough to test its tang. But most importantly where Lou's sandwich stands out is the quality of its corned beef--it crumbles like Star Deli's. In contrast, BBD's corned beef is a bit chewy. Maybe they gave me yesterday's delivery. It's a toss up which of the two I would rather go back to.

                  1. re: dearborn barkis

                    Hey, I'm sorry Lou's didn't work out sandwich wise--I must say I usually have something with pastrami, not corned beef. They can be inconsistent at times.

                    However, after reading this thread I am working up a MAJOR deli craving! DB, I am new to the boards and always enjoy your posts for the friendly debate they spark and the new places I learn about!

                    1. re: AmyIM

                      Thanks AmyIM,
                      I'm always willing to try new places, especially if they're recommended by fellow chowhounds.

                      Most chowhounds come here as much for the camaraderie in a shared interest in chow as they do for getting information. And the liveliness of the discussion only increases its interest. We love debate. Without impassioned discussion, no one would visit this site. Because Boagman gratefully informed us about the amazing Scotty Simpson's Fish & Chips--I've been there half dozen times since his original post--I'm willing to forgive his dubious indifference to Bates Hamburgers or his strange preference for Stage Deli to Star Deli.

                      Thirty years ago I loved discussing Jewish history and Russian literature. Today I'm more interested in Jewish corned beef and Russian dressing. I don't know if this means I'm getting older or getting younger. But I find myself visiting Chowhound daily.

                      1. re: dearborn barkis

                        "Because Boagman gratefully informed us about the amazing Scotty Simpson's Fish & Chips--I've been there half dozen times since his original post--I'm willing to forgive his dubious indifference to Bates Hamburgers or his strange preference for Stage Deli to Star Deli."

                        I just ate lunch at Scotty's today. It was, as it always is, delicious.

                        Bates just hasn't rung my bell like, say, Green's does. I remember thinking that it was just so-so at Bates. Doesn't mean it was bad, nor do I recall being unhappy. Just...eh.

                        As for the Star/Stage debate, I do like them both...I hope everyone caught that. Of the two, I'd prefer the ingredients in Stage's sandwich, but fully acknowledge that the extra expense at the original location (in addition to the almost-always-shoddy service) may not be worth it. Believe me: I've had more than my fair share of Star Deli sandwiches. Personal preference, I guess.

                        Always good discussion with you, barkis. :)

                  2. re: boagman

                    I went to the Bread Basket today for lunch. First time. Had the pastrami on rye.

                    It was terrific. Meat had just the right amount of fat. Bread was crusty. Mustard had just the right amount of zing. Didn't order anything else so I could focus on the important stuff.

                    I pronounce it at least as good as Zingermans in A2, which is my reference for good pastrami in the Detroit Metro area. Much better deal than Zingermans.

                    I can't comment on the corned beef, because I didn't try it. However, my lunch companion today who goes to BBD regularly had the corned beef sandwich and pronounced it as good as usual.

                    1. re: boagman

                      Fair enough, Boagman.
                      Just so you know where I'm coming from, I have eaten at both BBD and Star recently. To me, the flavor and texture of the meat are virtually identical at the two. (Maybe I have been lucky and have visited both on good days.)
                      It's funny - I've learned over the years that food reviews can sometimes be dubious at best when it comes to judgement of food quality. Even among friends, relatives, "professional" critics and within the Chowhound community, I'm sure you'll agree that you sometimes sit there shaking your head wondering what the heck people are talking about when it comes to a particular place. (Perhaps you're doing just that at the thought of BBD.) I guess we have to agree that personal tastes differ greatly, and appreciate the community for what it is - a fantastic jumping-off point for a journey. I've found many hits and misses at Chowhound and the other food sites, but every time I'm turned on to a gem that I wouldn't have discovered on my own, it makes the whole thing worthwhile.
                      I don't know why I haven't tried Stage yet, especially since a guy I used to work with also had a second job there and recommended it, and since I've been to the Starbucks right next to it probably a dozen or so times. I think I might have walked into the Stage at some point and gotten scared away by the prices. But I'll give it another look the next time I'm in the area at lunch time.
                      Based on the recommendations here, both Ron's and Steve's also sound like must-try's. I guess I'll just have to sample them all...........

                      BTW, thanks also for the Scotty Simpson's recommendation. That place truly is the real deal when it comes to fish and chips.

              2. re: AmyIM

                6 and Wyoming? I'm there. Tomorrow. Thanks.

              3. Just a vote for Steve's at Telegraph and Maple here ... haven't tried the corned beef, but their pastrami can rival anybody's.

                No argument on Zingerman's stratospheric prices, but they do have an unusual related food that the other places don't have: Montreal Smoked Meat. It's cured like corned beef and smoked like pastrami, I believe. Very tasty.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Jim M

                  YES - I'm glad you mentioned Steve's Deli (Maple & Telegraph), it is wonderful for all kinds of things. Usually when I go there I get their fresh roast turkey dinner (available each and every day, they roast fresh turkeys every day), their stuffing/dressing is the best (think it is made from challah), their lemon chicken is also great. I am the original Cheri that mentioned Star Deli having the best corned beef sandwiches, and I still stick by that recommendation, although I have never tried one at Steve's because their other things are so good. But based on the quality of all of their food, I'll bet their corned beef is great too. As far as I am concerned, Zingerman's is over-rated and over-priced, although their corned beef is high-quality, I don't find it as tasty as Star's. Everyone must try Steve's Deli, I highly recommend it. Their brownies are excellent also!

                2. When in Ann Arbor, my husband and I have an ongoing lunch debate, which usually ends out in two sandwich stops. Zingermans for me, smoked turkey, tomato avocado, munster, Honeycup mustard on grilled challah at $12...and Angelo's (next to the med school) for him, grilled thick-sliced pastrami piled with sauteed onions and swiss at $6 giving him change left over for two loaves of raisin bread...which he grudgingly shares as french toast later. We both know he gets the better sandwich, but I'm addicted to the Honeycup mustard buzz.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: grmdmom

                    Ron's Bagel Deli Restaurant on 14 mile in Commerce Township(Corner of M5 & 14 mile) comes to mind. Excellent corned beef. Just picked some up today along with a loaf of freshly baked rye bread to make a sandwich at home. Delish!

                    1. re: Rheta

                      I had a great pastrami sandwich at Ron's a couple weeks ago. I believe the owner and/or his family were the original owners of the Bread Basket.