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Reuben Sandwich anyone?

A current food quest of mine.....4* rating system
so far the best I've had is New World Deli...Stuffed delicious , perfect amount of cheese and dressing , and grilled perfectly right in front of you ( bread grilled but not hard) 4*
Katz's was ok , I'd eat it again.3*
I hated Manny Hattens , bland , not balanced ingredient ratio ( kinda dry) and overpriced. 2*...any input? Maybe someplace south?

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  1. I agree New World Deli does an excellent job with their reuben sandwich. I don't know of any place south, but in Crestview Little Deli used to do a very good reuben too. Right amount of meat, good rye bread, dressing was excellent. They recently sold and I haven't been by since then, so I don't know if the quality level is the same as it used to be.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rollledspleen

      used to eat there alot,but never had reuben there...nice lookin' staff if i recall

      1. re: Rustcat

        I thought this was funny. Years ago on I35 in the vicinity ofo 38th there was a place called the Canary Hut that served pretty good simple food. I was in there one day and a guy at the table next to me asked for a Rueben. The waitress came back and said they couldn't make it because they were out of corned beef. He asked her why couldn't they make it with ham. Is it just me?

        1. re: singlemalt

          we're out of Russian rye....will white bread do? Let's call it a Ham sandwich!!

    2. Little Deli (up north, Brentwood area) and Belladonna (on Burleson, down south) both offer pretty decent Reubens.

      2 Replies
      1. re: tom in austin

        I'll second the Reuben at Little Deli, but then I'll second anything that comes from Little Deli,

        1. re: Ken W

          Agreed. They've survived the transfer of ownership reasonably well, as well. I have noticed a sliiiiiight dip in sandwich quality, but the sample size (four visits) isn't big enough to be sure. All-in-all, things seem to be pretty good at Austin's best sandwich shop.

      2. I had one recently at Blue Star Cafeteria that was good. They forgot the Russian dressing at first, but the waitress brought me some immediately. Once I got the dressing, I was happy. Good corned beef, plenty of cheese and kraut, nice quality bread and yummy homemade-tasting dressing. All in all, an 8 on a 1-10 scale.

        1. Hyde Park Bar and Grill does a pastrami reuben I've always been happy with, and of course it comes with 'those fries' as well.

          2 Replies
          1. re: TAF

            I enjoy the pastrami reuben at Hyde Park Bar too.

            1. re: TAF

              Yes, Hyde Park was always a great place for a pastrami reuben in our book too. There's also a decent one at W. 34th Street Cafe.

            2. The H-E-B on Far West has a kosher deli section that I've been meaning to try. I've heard from a few people that they put together a great reuben. Can anyone confirm this?

              2 Replies
              1. re: jwynne2000

                While I can by no means claim to be an expert on reubens, I have had several from the Kosher deli in the Far West (Village Center) HEB and have found them to be outstanding and better than any others in town.

                1. re: jwynne2000

                  They do make a great reuben - I have had it a few times - but being kosher there will be no cheese on the sandwich -

                2. I love New World Deli reuben but the Avenue B grocer has a bomb reuben as well. plus its just a must-visit convenience store and deli. on avenue b just north of 42nd in hyde park. great atmosphere and sandwhiches in general

                  1. I'm resurrecting this thread, not because I found the perfect reuben, but because I found something similar and unbelievably delicious.

                    Hog Island began running a sandwich special last week, and though I'd passed it over previously, today after seeing several prepped while I was in line, I couldn't keep from ordering it.

                    The special is so horribly named that I'm finding it hard to key it in, but here goes: the Tony Danza. Despite the obvious lapse in judgment re: naming a sandwich that conjures such dubious televisual memories as "Who's the Boss?", "Hudson Street" and "The Tony Danza Show"–as well as cinematic forgettables "Cannonball Run II" and "Angels in the Outfield,"–there is no questioning the sandwichmaking acuity of the owners of Hog Island. The "TD" is 1/2 lb. of pastrami and 1/4 lb. of corned beef topped with swiss, mounded and gently toasted atop marbled rye with a generous helping of slaw and russian dressing.

                    There was some degree of trepidation before I took my first bite: would the bread be as good? Would the flavors have the same balance as I've found in the Old Italian, Cheeseteak or Meatball? Would this ruin the overwrought status of HI that I harbour in my mind? Thankfully, I took the first bite, and my mind was immediately at ease. The rich quality of the meats and cheese with the light and crunchy/creamy slaw and tangy sweet russian bookended with the two slices (slices? at HI?) of near perfect toasted marble rye sent me into a sandwich bliss.

                    I'll mention here that when I ordered the TD ($11.28, w/ pickle, potato salad and drink), the girl behind the counter gave me an, "Oh, yeah. Unh, hunh," and when I asked her if it was going to be a permanent menu item, she replied, "If they keep selling like this, it will." Even at $11.28 a sandwich.

                    I can't wait to get back to work next week (did I really just write that?) so that I can have another...

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: Twill

                      Can two people share it and get full?

                      1. re: rudeboy

                        Maybe not enough to get full, but to have a hunger sated? Yes.

                        1. re: Twill

                          I tried Hog Island's "Tony Danza" sandwich recently, Twill, and liked it. Thanks for the tip. I didn't love it, though, but that's mainly because I have East Coast "Reuben" expectations when these particular smoked meats are involved.

                          Hog Island's TD sandwich comes with both pastrami and corned beef [often in a Reuben, this is an either-or thing, with competing claims as to which is most authentic]. There was no cheese on my sandwich, though Twill described his as being topped with Swiss; cheese is a standard component of a Reuben. Hog Island's sandwich was made with the meat and cole slaw mounded on bread that had been dry-toasted. In my opinion, the best Reuben-like sandwiches are assembled and then griddled on each side so that the cheese just melts and the bread achieves the right degree of toastiness. It’s the same method that's used with grilled cheese and "melt" sandwiches.

                          Regardless of the “Tony Danza’s” degree of similarity to a traditional Reuben, I found this sandwich way too sweet. The cole slaw seemed fresh, but it was sweet, and not at all sour. Since Russian dressing is also sweet, a tangy, more vinegary cole slaw would be a better choice in terms of flavor contrast. For this reason, sauerkraut is often used instead on a Reuben. [The one-note nature of the TD was compounded by the fact that the potato salad that came on the side was sweet, too, and even the pickle wasn't truly sour.]

                          In addition, the marble-rye bread, while not bad, is not up to the high standard set by Hog Island’s hoagie rolls. Their Italian rolls are imported from the East Coast; this bread tastes like it's baked locally. Like a lot of Texas rye bread, the dark half of the marble rye doesn't really taste like it was made with traditional or pumpernickel rye. It was heartier and richer than the sourdough part of the bread, but not by much. I’d guess that their marble rye needed more caraway and molasses, among other things. Plus, their bread’s too soft, not dense enough. The kitchen thickly slices it (at least 1/2"-thick) to compensate for its relative flimsiness when stacked with more than a half-pound of toppings. Mine still fell apart very quickly.

                          Hog Island is obviously responding to demand. Apparently, this sandwich is so popular that it may well end up on their regular menu. I may be expecting too much, but nonetheless I hope that they add a traditional Reuben to the menu, along with this Reuben-inspired one. Who knows? They just might create a demand for both. Even if they don't, however, I won't hold it against them. In all fairness, places that make excellent Philly cheesesteaks and hoagies often are not as good at doing NYC deli staples like the Reuben.

                          1. re: MPH

                            It's good to hear a response from someone raised in the thick of NE deli heaven. I can't really compare to the Atlantic coast delis because the only experience I have in them thus far is at Maxie's in Manhattan, and it was more of a visceral experience. In my experience-limited opinion, I don't think that HI was going for a reuben so much as just experimenting with a sliced bread deli-style sandwich, and I thought it was a better than average (Austin) attempt. The bread could've used more caraway, and I completely agree about the potato salad-I took one bite and decided it was overkill. I think my approach to trying this particular invention was to lower my expectations to an unreasonable level, since the bar they've set with other fare is so high, so success for me depended on an absence of failure. Is it the best sandwich I've ever had? No. Would I like to see HI experiment more in this vein? Yes, but only so long as it's not at the expense of what they already succeed at.

                            1. re: Twill

                              I'm with you: As long as their other stuff stays good, then I've got no problem with experimentation. However, I was actually raised in a small Texas town that sure as hell didn't know from deli. Years of living on the East Coast and abroad expanded my chow horizons. Fortunately! Or, I'd still consider Luby's the best spot in town. =)

                              Again, I liked the "Tony Danza" sandwich, but I'd have liked it better if it were less sweet. And I wish they'd put cheese on mine. I think other 'hounds will enjoy it, too, thanks to your chowhounding report.


                              1. re: MPH

                                Alas and alack, I returned today and Tony was off the specials menu and nowhere to be found, apparently mimicking the on-again, off-again history of its namesake.

                            2. re: MPH

                              Deli marble rye is usually (around here esepecially) a dark and a light rye dough, not sourdough. The dark gets its color from caramel color. If it were made with actual pumpernickel rye, it would be much heavier and not have the desired texture for a sandwich.

                              1. re: LeroyT

                                When I wrote "traditional or pumpernickel rye," I meant "dark or pumpernickel rye." I'm sorry if that was confusing. I probably should have also said “light or sourdough part of the bread” in the following sentence. However, sourdough is sometimes marbled with pumpernickel rye, but “sourdough” in this case means “sourdough rye,” which is just light rye made with a sourdough starter:



                                Pumpernickel-sourdough marble rye has a fine texture for sandwiches, in my opinion. I wish Hog Island’s soft bread had some of that density.

                                I take it you’re saying that the “dark rye” part of Hog Island’s marble rye was colored with caramel and that no sourdough starter was used. Did you try the bread in question? Or, do you just prefer a less-dense marble rye in general?

                                1. re: MPH

                                  All due respect, what I'm saying is, you will almost undoubtedly not get marble rye anywhere in Austin in which the dark portion is not colored with caramel color. Also, real pumpernickel is generally a 100% rye bread that is very heavy and dense because rye flour contains only one of the two proteins that form gluten. It is baked with tons of steam for a long time and gets its color from... well, if you really want to know check out the wiki entry. I am saying this from the perspective of a baker and sandwich eater. You would not eat a sandwich on real pumpernickel. It has to sit for many hours to be able to be sliced. What you may have known as pumpernickel was almost undoubtedly not the real deal. You will rarely find it in the U.S.

                                  1. re: LeroyT

                                    Thank you for expanding on your personal tastes and sharing your knowledge, including the Wikipedia entry on pumpernickel.

                                    I’ll assume that you’re simply asking me about my personal tastes, too. To clarify: When I say that I wish that the marble rye at Hog Island tasted more like the marble rye that I’ve known and loved—on the East Coast and abroad—that doesn't mean that I wish that Hog Island produced something like the Westphalian black bread enjoyed in the fifteenth century. It means instead that HI’s bread is not good, as in “not good” compared to other examples of the type made with what you and Wikipedia call "American pumpernickel" and light or sourdough rye. I specifically mentioned missing a particular density and a flavor that comes from bread that’s been darkened with molasses and loaded with caraway seeds.

                                    On the other hand, if you've tried Hog Island’s marble rye and liked it, please post a review letting other ‘hounds know what makes it good, in your opinion.

                                    If you're suggesting that there's no reason to expect deliciousness from any marble rye consumed in Texas, then you're talking to the wrong chowhound. ;-)

                                    By the way, the reason Hog Island's hoagie rolls are so good is that they're imported from the East Coast. Perhaps they should do the same thing with their rye bread. Lord knows that most Texas bakeries can’t do many kinds of bread right.

                                    Thanks for sharing your general impressions.


                                    1. re: MPH

                                      No worries. I have not had the reuben at HI. I have had a cheesestaek and was pretty underwhelmed. I want to believe it was an off-day. The sandwich had little flavor and was very dry. I don't use the term "American pumpernickel" personally. To me, it is or it isn't, and what we consume here generally isn't. Also, I run a bakery that does make many kinds of bread right, so I agree that better examples are available even locally. I was mostly reacting to the use of the term "traditional" so as not to confuse others on the subject.

                        2. re: Twill

                          Good news - the Tony Danza is now a permanent part of the Hog Island menu.

                        3. Friends of ours love the Reuben at Rudino's at Volente and 620... I don't agree but I know that I don't know everything. I think they said something about the pucker of the Sauerkraut with the slight sweetness of the Russian dressing. Hmm... no mention of the corned beef and swiss???

                          1. Anybody know of a sort of veggie reuben in Austin? I think Mother's had them but they are out.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: chucklesmcfarland

                              The veggie-friendly Dog Almighty (in the Burnet Road farmer's market) has a "Reuben" dog - tasty twist on the genre. Sorry, couldn't resist, love that place! The farmer's market is full of beautiful fresh stuff, too, at the moment.

                              1. re: chucklesmcfarland

                                Magnolia Cafe (on Lake Austin Blvd or S Congress) offers a great veggie take on the Reuben. It quickly became tradition for Fridays during Lent!

                                1. re: chucklesmcfarland

                                  I haven't been there in a long time, but Katz's used to have an avocado Reuben that I remember being pretty good. My recollection of it was that it was pretty greasy- buttered bread w/ melted cheese and a whole avocado sliced in half. I'm pretty sure it's big enough to share.

                                2. Okay-the problem with getting a reuben in a town like Austin (ie goyish town west of the Hudson River) is that very few people actually understand the fundamental element of the Reuben--the corned beef (or pastrami.) To translate it into Texas culinary vernacular, there is a comparison to be drawn between those briskets on the open pit at the Salt Lick and the corned beef brisket being pulled hot from the steamer at Katz's Delicatessen (the one at Houston & Ludlow, NYC, not the one at 6th & Rio Grande). This is a technique that people dedicate their lives to mastering, and stake their reputation on--the placement of store-bought corned beef beetween grilled bread with russian dressing does not a Reuben make.
                                  That said, Katz's in Austin is capable of making a proper reuben when they are on their game, but consistency is an issue. Manny Hattans (the last time I checked) uses Vienna Beef, which I think is nasty, thus disqualifying them. The meat should taste rich and beefy, not chemical-y.
                                  As for the other non-delis, they may make a good-tasting sandwich, but without mastery of the basic ingredient I am going to say it is not an authentic product.
                                  I'm going to go further out on a limb and claim that there is not a truly authentic jewish/new york-style deli in Austin.
                                  The nearest one that I am aware of that meets my standards is Kenny & Ziggy's in Houston. http://www.kennyandziggys.com/
                                  This is the only deli I have encountered in this area that offers the real deal, where quality is more important than kitsch, run by East-coasters who were born into the trade. If you are in the Houston area, it is really a treasure worth checking out. The corned beef and pastrami are unbelievably tender, the rye bread fresh-baked, the half sour pickles are in a bowl on the table. The portions are outrageous. The Russian dressing is appropriately tangy, the matzohball soup and cheesecake are all worth the road trip.
                                  I don't mean to burst anyone's bubble about their favorite local "reubens"--I have tried a few that were good sandwiches. But a proper Reuben involves a cultural/culinary context outside of which it cannot be correctly executed, any more than a proper chopped beef sandwich cannot be had without the requisite hours of hardwood smoke, with the expertise of an experienced pitmaster, the tall glass of iced tea or cold beer, and the peach cobbler.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: tipsytexan

                                    I have been similarly disappointed with the reuben sandwiches in the area, though I don't have the depth of experience that tipsytexan has (excellent diatribe, by the way). I recently had a good experience at Spec's Deli with their Reuben sandwich.

                                    1) Rye Bread - Toasted perfectly meaning it was toasted well enoungh to hold up and not become soggy, but not to hard where it becomes board like. The bread itself was very tasty, but not out of this world.

                                    2) Russian Dressing - It was tangy, but it could have been more tangy. There was plenty applied, but not too much (a personal Reuben pet peeve). Good but not spectacular

                                    3) Sauerkraut - Very good vinegary and sour. I hate it when people put some type of sweet cole slaw on a Reuben. This was not the case. Again they did not overdo the amount.

                                    4) Corned beef - The Corned beef was tender, tasty, and more than abundant. It is advertised in the menu description as 1/2 lb and they do not skimp at all. The corned beef was the major portion of the sandwich (as it should be in my opinion).

                                    This sandwich was enoromous. I am not a skimpy eater by any stretch of the imagination, but I could have easily been satiified with half the sandwich and a small side dish. I almost got some deviled eggs to go with, but I am glad I did not.

                                    The Spec's Deli Reuben was a very positive experience for me. It is, at the least, very well constructed. I would like to hear a review from someone more familiar with the traditions of the Reuben from back east.

                                    1. re: El General

                                      In my experience of Spec's Deli - which is mostly limited to their Smith St location in Houston - they don't even put a sandwich on the menu unless they intend to prepare an authentic version of it. I'll be trying more of their offerings now that they've opened a few minutes from my workplace.

                                      1. re: El General

                                        I haven't had a Reuben from back east, but I also enjoyed the Reuben at Spec's. El General, you are spot on in the criticism of the Russian dressing, the only weak point to the sandwich. I was thinking that it could of been helped with just a bit more dressing.
                                        I'm looking forward to trying some the other sandwich choices there.

                                        1. re: El General

                                          The Reuben has been incredibly consistent. As I work in the area, I eat at Spec's for Lunch regularly. I have to fight with myself not to get it. It has been of virtually identical quality every time I have had it.

                                          1. re: El General

                                            I’m going to straddle the line here and agree with both tipsytexan and El General: The Reuben at Spec’s is the best example of a traditional-style Reuben I’ve had to date in Austin—and Texas. The overall size and component proportions are good; they use actual sauerkraut (not the dreaded cole slaw), Swiss cheese, and dark-pumpernickel bread. However, there was something wrong with the corned beef. It was bland and dry, rather than deliciously greasy. A quick look at the offerings at Spec’s Online indicates that they sell corned beef produced by Boar’s Head and Kohler-Freda Deli Meats. Tipsytexan’s analogy between the makers of great corned beef and great brisket is right on: To me, these national brands represent, at best, the chain-barbecue-mass-market equivalent of “the best” smoked meats. There were other issues with the sandwich ingredients. The prepared sauerkraut was somewhat flavorless, as was the bottled Russian dressing. [Some delis make their own in-house versions of both, just like barbecue joints make their own sauce.] I didn’t enjoy the ho-hum taste of the packaged pumpernickel that they used. As for preparation, half of the cheese on the sandwich was well-melted; half was completely cold and remained separate from the meat. The outside of the bread was on the dry side, as if it hadn’t been smeared in butter (or similar) before griddling it. I agree with El General that the sandwich is, overall, well constructed.

                                            Spec’s sandwich followed the textbook. Unfortunately, mediocre corned beef and so-so versions of sauerkraut and Russian dressing add up to a sandwich that lacks the transcendently delicious combination of fatty, salty meat dressed with truly sweet, sour, and tangy condiments that you get in great versions of the Reuben.

                                            As for the non-Reuben offerings: Spec's "funky chicken" sandwich, unexceptional prepared sides (green beans & a side salad), and tasteless glazed whole chicken were nothing to write home about.

                                      2. One of my friends really likes the turkey reuben at Jason's Deli. She likes the one at New World Deli too, but as she's trying to lose weight, she isn't as fond of the amount of butter they use to toast it and says she won't order it there anymore.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: ParticularPalate

                                          Butter good....A TURKETY RUEBEN IS NOT A RUEBEN

                                        2. Guilty pleasure I'd never admit in public -

                                          Have you tried the ruben on dark rye at Schlotsky's (no thousand Island, yes spicy mustard)?

                                          Not what I go to for a "real" ruben, but a great, cheap guilty pleasure.

                                          1. I haven't posted anything in a long time but I feel I must echo the comments made by El General. While I'm no expert, I do LOVE a good reuben. The reuben sandwich at Spec's deli was undoubtedly the best I've had to date. I've gone back many times specifically for this sandwich and it is preventing me from trying other items on the menu because I can't resist ordering it.

                                            1. I know this isn't topical but in case anyone else has something similar happen to them...

                                              Every couple of weeks I get a fast food craving. This past Saturday I found myself at Arby's. I ordered a number seven but they heard "Number eleven" which is their Reuben.

                                              No, you don't need to try it.

                                              For my money, I like the Reuben at NeWorlDeli. The gregariousness of the owner makes all of their food taste better.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: KPeff

                                                That's one tasty Rueben at NeWorldDeli. I don't have the luxury of living nearby but it's definitely a destination for that fantastic sandwich. Actually, I've really enjoyed everything I've had there when I'm able to pull myself away from the Reuben, as well.

                                              2. One of my husband's fave meals ever is a Reuben. I was all excited to take him to NeWorlDeli last weekend to give him the ultimate Reuben experience. He was underwhelmed. He said the meat was good. He liked the bread, but prefers the dark rye with more caraway flavor (I think). The downside for him was the sauce. He opened his sandwich to show me, and there was barely detectable spread the color of Thousand Island dressing, not the color of Russian. Was this an "off" day for NeWorlDeli? Or is this how they normally make it and it just wasn't my husband's preference? I'm not a Reuben officianado, but I'm trying to understand.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: stephanieh

                                                  It's been awhile since I was there but I'm particular about having adequate sauce on any sandwich whether it's mustard, mayo or whatever. I would not have been impressed by a dry sandwich. I'm going to guess it was an "off"day for them.