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Best Pastrami Sandwich

My wife and I have been thinking about indulging again after quite a lengthy layoff from pastrami. I think the last time we had a pastrami sandwich was at the old location of the Second Avenue Deli, and that was long before they closed, so it's been a number of years. We both liked what they served up at the Second Avenue Deli then, and in the distant past I've liked the pastrami at Katz's, but we haven't been there for quite some time either.

It might be a no-brainer to go to either the new Second Avenue Deli or to Katz's, but this may be the last pastrami sandwich for us for some time and we'd like to make the most of it. Who knows, maybe there's a place out there in the five boroughs that has even better pastrami than these two stalwarts.

So I put it to the Chowhounds in New York: where is the best pastrami sandwich in New York City today?

Thanks in advance...

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  1. Pastrami Queen on Lexington Avenue is very good....

    1. I was underwhelmed by the pastrami sandwich at the new Second Ave. Deli. Keep looking.

      1. My son and I recently indulged ourselves at Katz's on a Saturday afternoon. After watching the quality of the meats and service go downhill for years, Katz's has definitely made an impressive comeback. The pastrami, corned beef and brisket are again top notch. The portions are generous without being over the top, and the prices are reasonable given the going rate around town. This place is again the real thing , and in my opinion puts most of the uptown tourist mills like the Carnegie to shame. If you're looking for great pastrami, you can't go wrong at Katz's. Delicious.

        2 Replies
        1. re: maxdemontclair

          Well, the quality I can't dispute, nor do I wish to dispute it, since nostalgically at least, I WANT to say that Katz's is the best. It helps to set us (NYC) apart from the rest of the free and not-so-free world. However, all that said, for me the fact that the slicing is so thick due to hand-carving, kind of brings it down a notch. In truth, it's always been true for me. I wish they could keep the quality that sets them apart from, as you say, the "uptown tourist" delis, but use the slicing machine. Either that, or somehow hone your skills so that you can slice it even thinner than you now do. But...it's still Katz's, and I'll always recommend it as the best--thickness of slice aside.

          1. re: RickTheClamBellyFan

            You raise a good issue. But, I would be on the other side. The thickness is important to me, and I like the thick-cut at Katz just fine.

        2. I second Katz's for the top spot... have been there many times in the past 15 years and I have yet to be disappointed. I find the pastrami on rye with a half sour pickle, fries, and a Dr Browns Cherry or Cream soda to be a very satisfying meal. Carnegie Deli is also very good but the sandwich is way to much for one and they love to hit you with that sharing charge... which on a $20 plus sandwich just seems greedy. I also find that Katz's cuts off more of the fat since they hand slice the meat... Carnegie slices their meats by machine and leaves far too much fat on.

          1 Reply
          1. re: iluvcookies

            Hey, cookies...that's IT! You've hit it on the head. I agree about Katz's Russian dressing being horrid, and I am a russian fan too for pastrami. I haven't been to Carnegie in years and haven't been to 2nd ave. Deli since the move, so I can't say, but I think I may have to try them. Forget Ben's, however. I know no one asked, but I'm just sayin'.

          2. I'm one of the few non-fans of Katz. It's perfectly done, but not flavorful enough. Also, I prefer Russian to mustard, and Katz's Russian is dreadful.

            I haven't been to Pastrami Queen for a while, but at least when it was in Queens, across from the courthouse, the meat was far too coarse-textured.

            Second Avenue Deli used to be fine, and I've read that the new incarnation at toidy-toid 'n' toid is very good, but killingly expensive.

            Sarge's makes its own, but I was underwhelmed.

            <flamesuit/ON> For me, Carnegie Deli makes the best pistol. The fat content is high enough for real flavor, and the bread is top notch. I usually get several extra slices of bread (free for eat-in, extra for take-out) and have it with Russian for half and mustard for the other half. That, plus the truly sour pickles to cut the richness, is my idea of nirvana. <flamesuit/OFF>.

            5 Replies
            1. re: KRS

              I like your technique, KRS, may have to steal it.

              also, thought you meant 2nd ave moved to "hoity-toid" and toid; works?

              1. re: KRS

                I think that KRS has it right. I am still on the quest for the best pastrami sandwich in the New York City area. The first test to determining which deli has the best pastrami is to find which ones make their own pastrami. Not to denigrate Empire National which is very good, but delis often purchase their pastrami from a wholesaler and pass it off as their own. For those who care, Empire National's pastrami is much better than Hebrew National's. That said, my quest is to find a pastrami place that makes their own pastrami that is rich in spices and flavor, moist and tender. To date, I have to say that I have found that the two best pastrami sandwiches I have had are in Philadelphia. One is at a place called the Kibitz Room in Cherry Hill, NJ and the other in central Philadelphia called the Famous 4th Street Delicatessen. I find it ironic that to get the two most authentic and tasty pastrami sandwiches, you have to travel to Philadelphia. Insofar as New York is concerned, my rankings would be as follows:

                1. Carnegie Deli (still consistently the best)
                2. Stage Deli (on a good day it can be as good if not better than the Carnegie, but on a bad day, it tastes very processed)
                3. Junior's on Flatbush or Grand Central Station (pretty good as they make their own and gives the top two a run for their money on occasion)
                4. Sarge's (it is their own, it is very tender and moist, but there is not enough seasoning)
                5. Katz's (it has all the right stuff, hand cut, well seasoned but something is just not there)

                I am most curious about the Brooklyn Delis but heard that both Adelman's and Mill Basin use Empire National. I was wondering if anybody can confirm or deny this and whether there are any authentic pastrami places left in Brooklyn other than Junior's.

                So, with all of that said, I would still like to find the best place that makes their own pastrami in the New York City greater area. I welcome feedback from all pastrami lovers across the land.

                1. re: MitchPastrami

                  Can't say where they get there's from but Adleman's is definately not a top pastrami spot. Just a run of the mill pastrami sandwich. Still good to eat thought ;)

                  1. re: MitchPastrami

                    It has been a little over two years since I posted my opinion and I thought it was time for an update. My tastes have not changed but I have had a chance to eat at all of the places I listed in my first posting on several occasions so as to give each and every place a fair chance.

                    My new and updated list is greatly abbreviated. There are really three places where it is worth spending your money and where you will consistently get a great pastrami sandwich. Two are in the new New York metro area and one is in Cherry Hill, NJ.

                    I believe that Katz's and Irving's in Livingston, NJ might have the same supplier. Both places have without question, what is the best pastrami in the New York area. It is tender, flavorful, hand cut, well seasoned and just about perfect. I am not a big fan of the Rockland Bakery rye that they use but that aside, there is no better pastrami anywhere.

                    I must give equal mention to the Kibitz Room in Cherry Hill, NJ, just outside of Philly. Their pastrami is very different form Katz's or Irving's but consistently excellent. It is worth the trip to taste this wonderful pastrami.

                    Also, the guys as Hobby's in Newark have a very nice pastrami. They are worth patronizing as it is a Newark institution.

                    With those three delis, you now have the listing of the top three pastrami places in the world.

                    Rockland Bakery
                    94 Demarest Mill Rd W, Nanuet, NY 10954

                    1. re: MitchPastrami

                      What happened to Famous 4th St. on your list? and another Phila good one is Hershel's in reading terminal market. What about Barney Greengrass? l always eat fish but see a lot of pastrami being served there.

                2. I haven't had it since I was probably 13, but I remember the Pastrami Sandwiches at Sarge's were great. Like I said though, it has been a while.

                  1. i recently tried a pastrami "reuben" wrap at pret a manger and thought it was very good!

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: rich51

                      blasphemy! First of all, Pastrami needs to be eaten on RYE, with MUSTARD, not in a wrap, and certainly not with cheese and saurkraut. Ditto for the above post for eating Pastrami with Russian dressing. UGH.

                      1. re: LDubs

                        the best are in brooklyn:

                        david's brisket house (currently undergoing slow renovation or maybe closure)
                        mill basin deli

                        in that order.

                        in my opinion, 2nd avenue is a tie with adelman's, or maybe a notch below. katz's ranks way below any of them. pastrami queen was terrible the few times i tried it, but i've heard that that was just an off few days.

                        1. re: joekarten

                          I used to second David's Brisket House for pastrami, corned beef and brisket. However, when I went there a month ago my none of the mentioned above tasted as good before the renovation. I mean the taste was there but the textures were very tough. I hope it's a fluke and not the owner getting exhausted by all the work.

                        2. re: LDubs


                          1. re: LDubs

                            Double Bleeech! No one should be allowed to eat pastrami with anything with mayo in NYC!

                            1. re: johnindabronx

                              Mayo is one parent to Russian dressing. The other is ketchup. What a beautiful marriage.

                              Old Jewish complaint. The wedding was nice but , the bride was too beautiful.

                        3. Katz's is the most superior pastrami this side of the earth! It melts in your mouth... if you don't believe me, go there... and yes, it must be on rye, and must be with mustard. All the other pastrami's pale to Katz's... the secret? It's steamed... moist... still has some fat on it. Others? just cooked, no fat, no taste, hard to swallow.

                            1. I agree with most recommendations here, except one!
                              Katz's is terrrific most of the time--look at the color of the pastrami--the darker the better!
                              Pastrami Queen on Lexington Avenue is very good.
                              Ben's Best in Queens has been recommended to me by many people.
                              The only disagreement I have with most people is that the old Second Avenue Deli went down hill after the unforunate death (murder, actually) of its beloved original owner, Abe Lebewohl. I ate there three times before it closed, each time a year apart, and swore I would never set foot in there again! The pastrami was grizzly and the fries were like crumbs left over from a previous frying. This happened to me three times! So I was not saddened by its closing.
                              To be fair, I look forward to trying out the new Second Avenue Deli, but will be very tempted to go to Wolfgang's Steakhouse at 33rd and Park Avenue, instead.
                              New York Magazine back in 1973 had the Pastramic Olympics where they rated the 30 top Pastrami Restaurants in New York City. The best one in my book was Bernstein's on Essex, they had two pastramis. One was a hickory smoked, kind of sweet pastrami, and the other one was a Roumanian spicy, kind of dry pastrami.
                              Artie's Deli on Broadway claims to have purchased the recipe for the Roumanian spicy pastrami--but I have never had at Arties what tasted like the one they served at Bernstein's on Essex, even though I have been at Arties at least a hundred times!
                              Carnegie's Deli used to be one of the best, before Leo Steiner of the original Pastrami and Things took it over, and tried to change the pastrami like he used to have in his deli on 23rd and and Third Avenue. I thought the project failed! The Carnegie Deli pastrami did not need modification. Sorry to ramble a bit--it's just that I love pastrami so much!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: rgklein21

                                Another vote for Katz's. I don't think the others even compare. I always take it very seriously =) when they give you the sample of the piece they're cutting from. I have actually asked them to switch it out for one with more or less fat content and they never seem to mind. Some of them look like crap. If you're going to indulge, do it right and get exactly what you want.

                              2. Another vote for Mill Basin Deli in Brooklyn

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: dougnash

                                  How much do you Katz fans tip at he slicing counter?

                                  1. re: Beckster

                                    I've been going to Katz's for all of my 52 years (my first memory being of sawdust on the floor and the butchers giving us kids cocktail weinies and salami's) and although they've had their ups and downs they are still the best.
                                    I usually tip the cutters 2 bucks.

                                    1. re: chefstu

                                      I still haven't recovered from the closing of The Pastrami King. The Pastrami Queen is very solid, and, unfortunately, kind of under the radar, but The Pastrami King was in a whole different category. I can still remember wolfing down their deeply smoky rendition on the subway station outside the restaurant 20 years ago.

                                      1. re: Benjamin68

                                        I agree wholeheartedly, Pastrami King was uniquely fantastic. The spices and undertones of garlic were mouthwatering and nothing else I have ever had comes close to emulating the flavor. I have had other delicious pastrami sandwiches;
                                        -Katz was not one of my favorites,I have had good and bad from there but never exceptional.
                                        -Mill Basin was very good in my youth but I haven't been there in years
                                        -Carnegie was not good at all when i was there
                                        -Jay and Lloyds in brooklyn was passable and much better than Adlemens
                                        -I havent been to the Second Ave Deli since it reopened at its new location but the old one was quite good.
                                        -Deli Masters in queens was always delicious.

                                2. Sadly going to the New Second Ave Deli. I must say it sucks. KATZ'S is still Really good. It's hard to believe it's really getting better. AS long as this is a fling. If you go to Katzs, walk up the block to Russ & Daughters for a take home nosh, Energy left Try walking it off on your way to the Pickle Guys on Essex & Grand.
                                  Fress, Nosh & Enjoy life,

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: SMDAD

                                    Russ & Daughters has the best chopped chicken liver I ever tasted (except for Ina Garten's on the Food Network).

                                    1. re: SMDAD

                                      I went to the new 2nd Ave deli a month ago. I agree with you. I am not going back.

                                    2. After the Second Avenue Deli closed I started going to Fine & Shapiro on the upper West Side. I was very surprised by the quality of the corned beef & pastrami! You never hear about this old deli but it was far better than 2nd Ave. Deli or Katz's. This Sunday I went back to 2nd. Avenue Deli in their new location. The food was as I remembered it, not great. What they do have is atmosphere. Nothing else. If you want a great sandwich go to "Fine & Shapiro"

                                      1. Katz is the champ for NY style, though Ben's Best in Qns (and the location in LI) is excellent as well.

                                        Completely different style, more along the lines of German-Texas barbecue, but the smoked pastrami at Fette Sau in Williamsburgh is brilliant.

                                        1. Deli Masters on the LIE service road. On rye, with mustard, as if there was any other method. And a godamn half-sour pickle. What is this? Of course!

                                          1. Well, I totally think everyone is missing the boat, and that the best pastrami in NYC is at ................................ ESSEX ON CONEY! That's right. But it's Passover for another week or so, so you won't be able to test it out. I often go and buy a pound with bread, mustard, and pickles and me and the wife chow down at home.

                                              1. re: svendeezy

                                                My family and I went to Irving's last night and I must say that it was nothing short of outstanding. They clearly make their own pastrami. It was hand-cut, moist, tender and very flavorful. In all sincerity, it is far and away the best pastrami sandwich in the New York metropolitan area. While the operational model is similar to Katz's, that is where the similarities end. Irving's is really far superior to Katz's as well as all of its competitors. Katz's pastrami can often be tough and gristly. The seasoning on Katz's pastrami never compared with that of the Carnegie, Stage or Junior's. Irving's trumps them all.

                                                While it is the new kid on the deli block, Irving's is reminiscent of the delis of days gone by in terms of decor and taste. We were greeted by a lovely lady who was obviously one of the owners. Throughout the evening, she checked on us to make sure we were happy and was very grateful not only for our patronage, but also for the compliments we paid to her at the end of the evening. The service was also excellent. The decor will take you back to your childhood deli days. This was not only my opinion, a devout pastrami eater for over 40 years, but also the opinion of my father who has been eating pastrami for close to 70 years.

                                                Thank you to traderdube and Mr. Black for suggesting Irving's. You both hit the nail on the head. It is 47 miles from my home in Rockland County but well worth the trip.

                                                As a new restaurant, I am sure that Irving's can benefit from the patronage of all those who love pastrami. So, take the trip to Livingston, New Jersey and visit Irving's. You will not regret it. I promise that this recommendation comes straight from the stomach and heart and that I am deriving no benefit whatsoever from making this endorsement.

                                                By the way, the pickles and fries were pretty good too!

                                                1. re: MitchPastrami

                                                  Mitch, before I got to your post, I was thinking of recommending Irving's, then Voila! you posted. I've only had pastramii a few times and am not really qualified to make comparisons, but Irving's is the best I've had. I originally went for a hot dog, but was given a sample of the pastrami by Marc Singer, one of the owners, and a great guy. I go back for the pastrami sandwiches and pastrami reubens.

                                                  I've gotten to know Mark and talk with him whenever I'm there. He went into a lengthy explanation as to why his pastrami is so good. Most of it went right over my head. He did hire away or "pirate" a guy who worked for Katz's. He also explained differences between his pastrami and Katz's, and why his is better. Sorry I can't remember the details, but the taste and texture of the pastrami is terrific. As much as I love hot dogs, I can't pass up the full pastrami sandwich or reuben.

                                                  I have heard comments that the size of the sandwich varies. Last time I went with my wife, we had huge sandwiches. My wife happenned to be near Irving's about a week later on a work assignment and decided to stop in with a friend. To her disappointment, the sandwiches were smaller than when she went with me. That's the only negative. Hopefully Mark will read some comments online and make sure the size is more consistent. I'll mention it to him on my next visit.

                                                  1. re: hotdoglover


                                                    Next time you make the trip to Irving's, seek out Marc. He is almost always there and will be more than happy to talk about pastrami with you.

                                                    1. re: hotdoglover

                                                      Thanks hotdoglover. I will defintely seek Mark out the next time I am there. I would be really curious to hear what he has to say about his preparation and why it differs from the others. Pastrami is something that is not easily prepared by the do-it-yourselfer. There is a series of books called Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur that has recipes that come very close to the original restaurant recipes but pastrami is just too difficult to even try at home. I am really glad you enjoyed it.

                                                      The next time I am in the city, I am going to try Bloom's and Delmonico's as one of the other folks suggested.

                                                      1. re: MitchPastrami

                                                        I grew up in the Bronx and Queens, lived in Manhattan for many years, and now am back in the Bronx again. Pastrami flows in my veins - and luckily, I've been working in NJ, just a few miles from Irving's.

                                                        Folks, this is the real thing - as good as any I've had from Katz's. It's perfectly seasoned, and literally melts in your mouth (the fatty cut, of course - I'd probably go into cardiac arrest if I let lean pastrami pass my lips).

                                                        I was a partisan of Carnegie for many years (and I mean since the 50's), and have always liked Katz's - which, in recent years, has provided me with my best pastrami moments while Carnegie is inconsistent; still capable of being very good, but made careless by the declining Jewish customer base and too many tourists.

                                                        The pastrami I brough home from Irving's tonight (1/2 pound, 1/4 pound fatty corned beef, kasha knish, pickles, rye bread, mustard, potato salad and cole slaw) is as good as Katz's and the equal of Carnegie at its best. I haven't gone there frequently enough to judge consistency, but I met Mark, the proprietor, and he is convincingly committed to the meat and to his deli.

                                                        Pedro, the slicer - a Katz' alumni - did an excellent job, passing me a few samples along the way. He got the cut and the hand slicing just right, and was courteous and pleasant to deal with.

                                                        For true pastrami lovers, I'd say that Irving's is a destination deli, definitely worth a detour. It's about a 45 minute drive from the Bronx; bring a U-haul - you'll be glad you did.

                                                        Incidentally, if you do make it out there, Jimmy Buff's - home of an outstanding Italian hotdog - is literally 2 minutes down the road in East Hanover, and on your way back east, you can stop at Amazing in Verona, home of another excellent NJ frank. Like I said - bring a U-haul. :)

                                                        1. re: Striver

                                                          Jimmy Buff's and Irving's are two of my favorite places. I love Amazing Hot Dog as well, but the Verona location has been closed for months. Bound Brook is still open.

                                                          1. re: hotdoglover

                                                            Sorry to hear about Verona closing, although I obviously get out west (down the rt. 10 strip mall) more often than east (I normally cut north through N. Caldwell up to rt. 80 to get home).

                                                            The take-out from Irving's traveled fine, BTW, and the pastrami was still nice and warm by the time I got back to the Bronx, where my wife and I celebrated Deli Friday, much to her delight, too!

                                                            Have you tried the franks at Irving's? Their signage said they're natural casing with plenty of "snap"; I'm curious as to your take. I'll be back, but primarily for the pastrami (although they had some good looking fried chicken, too, which I've missed taking some since a fire knocked out the Chicken Nest in Livingston some time ago).

                                                    2. re: MitchPastrami

                                                      i am a corned beef eater......do they have it and how is it compared to katz

                                                  2. I read this post and was surprised not to find one of my favorites, and I think a great Pastrami sandwich, Bens Kosher on W. 38th St. and other locations on Long Island. I think all the food is great, and the portions are abundant without being obscene, and they are very accommodating when you want to take leftovers home. Also abundant with the cole slaw and pickles.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: LoriDNY

                                                      OK this post is 3 months old but I gotta say that the Bens chain is completely inconsistent, to the point that I wonder if they're all seperately owned franchisees. I've been to the 38th st once and I remember not liking it at all. Since my grandmother died the only one i've been to in LI is the one in Greenvale at Wheatley plaza. I go once a year at most but it's always been good.

                                                      Just a note, My dad still tells me stories about pastrami king. I never went but I know exactly where it is since he always points it out.

                                                    2. I know this is out of date but, when at a convention at Atlantis on Paradise Island in Nassau Bahamas November 1999 one of the restaurants on premises was called Murray's Delicatessen. I was as if a Hollywood designer reconstructed a fifty's style NY deli. The prices were outrageous for the time $15 for a pastrami sandwich $3 for 2 oz. of Russian dressing on the side. What the hell we were on a meal plan. One of the best pastramis in the history of me. We were there for a week and had it 4 or 5 times. I do not know if it is still in existence.
                                                      For here and now it is Katz's.
                                                      Ask the cutter for a juicy one (read some fat, not all lean). Taste first and if not wonderful ask for more juicy/fatty.
                                                      Had a catering platter from Second Ave. Deli last weekend. Do not bother with them. The meats were nondescript. The prices outrageous. The things included for free when dining in were high for takeout. $6 for 8 pickles, $11 for rye bread even though buying 4 lbs. of meat. Stay home or go somewhere else.

                                                      1. Deli masters in queens is pretty good. 2nd ave is pretty damn good. bens in LI wasnt anything exceptionally special. Katz is still unbeatable to me. it just melts...

                                                        good board here. I have some new bookmarks, but it's going to be hard to take down Katz's.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Jeffsayyes

                                                          I think that Ben's in LI once made their own, or got better stuff, one or the other. They used to be great. Now they are pretty mediocre.

                                                        2. I've found Carnegie and Stage delis to be hit or miss over the years. For consistency, it's Katz's. Katz's was one of the last places I took my dad, who yearned for one more good pastrami sandwich. His grandfather was an Old World butcher who knew his meats, and Dad was an apple who didn't fall far from the tree. He devoured that sandwich, as did my mother and I. Mom, now almost 89, also says nobody's pastrami compares to Katz's, and we all know you should always listen to your mutha.

                                                          1. Katz's is still consistently great. Make sure you ask for some of the pickled tomatoes.

                                                            I was at the new 2nd Avenue Deli a few weeks ago. I am not going back.

                                                            I went to Carnegie recently. I have 30 year old memories of great pastrami and corned beef there. They don't have that quality any more. I have been there once every few years and each time they seemed to have slipped a little further in their quality. I think that this was the last visit for me.

                                                            Artie's is OK but it is not nearly as good as Katz's.

                                                            1. Just ate at Arte's UWS-Broadway and 80's and the pastrami was really good and so were the pickles and coleslaw-I would recommend them.

                                                              1. Katz's. Do not go any where else Ask for it Juicy one rye with mustard. Nothing else. No CHEESE and not in a rap. That is something you get in a Subway Sub Shop.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: btsqnyc

                                                                  KD aka Kensington Deli in Great Neck makes a supreme pastrami samndwich. Benn there for over 40 years and still going strong. The hot dogs are awesome as well.

                                                                  1. re: btsqnyc

                                                                    btsqnys: I like the way you talk !!!!!
                                                                    I live in Maine and wish Katz's was closer !!

                                                                  2. KATZ by far..The meat is tender and smells heavenly.....KATZ is New York in every way..I dont know which is better the Corn Beef or the Pastrami. And I have yet to hear anyone complain that they dont give enough meat..Yeah its kind of pricey but well worth it...You can eat half and bag the other and have enough meat for two more sandwiches......

                                                                    I hear people talk about Carnegie Deli but its been closed by the Health Dept so many times Im kinda leary.

                                                                    Stay with KATZ.......

                                                                    1. Pastrami King used to be the best when it was across form the courthouse on Queens Blvd. It moved out to the Island, and isn't bad, but not the same. Now, I like Stage better than Carnegie.Is the Pastrami Queen on Lexington affiliated with the old Pastrami King?

                                                                        1. I gotta tell you, in Midtown there are two very good choices. Delmonico's on Lex between 41 and 42 and Bloom's a block down.

                                                                          Delmonico's has days when it is unbeatable.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: sushiman

                                                                            Take a $10 cab ride down to Katz on Houston St. It will be the most amazing pastrami sandwich ever. You can thank me later.

                                                                            1. re: 2455Bklyn

                                                                              LOL-I have been there many a time. When I worked on the Street, we actually hired a limo and did a pastrami tasting. In those days there was a great place on Albany St. behind the AMEX named St. Charlies that was the best. That trip included Katz, 2nd Ave and Carnegie.

                                                                              I find Katz's hit or miss. Still great, but then again, there is no way to be 100% consistent when it comes to pastrami.

                                                                              Pastrami King when it was out on Queen's Blvd was another great. The City incarnation lost something.

                                                                          2. I find that a key element in determining "best", for me, is whether it is fatty or not. I like my pastrami fatty, so I make sure to always order it that way. Hence, it's not where I go but the cut that's given. Within the last year, I took a friend to Katz, and I had not been there in years. I still think it's overpriced. But, that aside, the first sample piece the cook gave us was too lean, then I asked for a fattier piece. The next piece he gave us was satisfactory, if not mind-blowing.

                                                                            1. Maybe the problem with much of today's pastrami is the fact people still try to make a sandwich out of it? Never understood this concept. Just a thought about classic traditions.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: napolean

                                                                                a lot of typing and electricity wasted to post KATZ'S KATZ'S KATZ'S!!! there is no other choice in NYC

                                                                              2. My boyfriend and I are on a mission to try all the best pastrami joints in the city. We tried the Second Avenue Deli this past summer. While Carnegie and Katz's offer an interesting experience along with good food, the SECOND AVENUE DELI is ordinary and the food is a disappointment, undistinguished and expensive. All the sides they offer are priced separately and the small portions do not justify the outrageous prices. Never again.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: dennio

                                                                                  Agree about the new 2nd Ave. Deli. Been sliding since Abe died. When a place like this becomes too much of a "business" and less an object of the owner's love, they cut a little here, a little there, until one day it just isn't what it was anymore.

                                                                                  1. re: addictedtolunch

                                                                                    Ben's Best in Rego Park was a wonderful surprise, a small storefront, which we almost missed It would have been a shame to have lost out on the opportunity to enjoy their juicy pastrami and delicious kreplach. Also, Loesser's in Riverdale has very satisfying pastrami. As for knishes, which we feel must accompany every pastrami outing, the best so far has been the square one at Katz's which was nicely moist and flavorful, not just overwhelmingly potato.

                                                                                2. I vote Katz ....yeah they have there bad days also.... best time to go is around lunch time when everything is fresh. Reason I am writing this now is I just ate at LOESER'S DELI in the Bronx which suppose to have a great pastrami sandwhich but I have to say it sucked and they should be closed down. Who the hell heats up there pastrami in the microwave need I say more

                                                                                  1. I have been going to Katz's since 1967 and the pastrami on a good day tastes exactly like it did in 1967! Pastrami has changed over the years in New York City. It seems to have gotten darker, and flakier (it's not as tough as it used to be) and a little spicier. The pastrami at Katz's about two months ago was a bit disappointing. The counter-guy gave me a sample and it was too pink. I asked him if he had any darker pastrami and he replied no. So I took the sandwich he made me and it was not the greatest by any means, but the atmosphere there is terrific!

                                                                                    One of my favorite pastrami places is Pastrami Queen at 78th and Lexington and Schatzi's, a takeout place at the S.E. corner of 87th and Amsterdam.

                                                                                    Carnegies was ruined when Lou Steiner, owner of Pastrami and Things at 23rd and 3rd took it over in the 70's.

                                                                                    Second Avenue Deli went down the drain after Abe Lebewohl was murdered. It became one of the worst pastrami places ever--I was glad to see it closed.

                                                                                    Bernsteins on Essex, known as Schmulka Bernsteins was one of my favorites. They had 2 kinds of pastrami--a sweet smoked pastrami and a drier spicier Roumanian pastrami. I took three subway trains just to get there.

                                                                                    Artie's claims they bought the special recipe from Bernstein's on Essex, but I never had a pastrami sandwich there that was above average. When they first opened up, the pastrami might as well have been Boars Head brand! They have gotten better I must admit, but it is still a similacrum of a Jewish Deli. The only thing authentic about this place is the mean old red haired waitress that gives you lip when you order tongue!

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                                                                                    1. re: rgklein21

                                                                                      Great post. Thanks. My parents started taking me to Katz's in the mid-sixties. Over the years, the place has always had atmosphere, but the quality of the pastrami and overall eating experience has also had wild ups and downs through the various ownership changes. The current management has done a good job of bringing the place back up to snuff in terms of food quality.

                                                                                      Back in the sixties, Katz's was a bargain for good deli, but the pastrami and corned beef was not at the same level of quality as dozens of other kosher delis that were scattered all over the five boroughs. Well, it's certainly no longer a bargain, but it is one of the few places left in NY where an aging Jew boy like myself can find a very decent, regular pastrami sandwich (as opposed to, for example, the just too precious for me Brooklyn, Montreal style, bespoke kind ).

                                                                                      FYI. I was recently in Boca Raton, FL and went to the Ben's down there to satisfy a craving for tongue. Surprisingly terrific sandwich which I supplemented with a side of truly wonderful kasha varnishkas. Surprising because I've always found the Ben's branches up here to be mostly disappointing.

                                                                                      Anyway, please keep us posted on any other pastrami joints worth checking out in NY Metro.

                                                                                      1. re: rgklein21

                                                                                        I posted this four years ago, in case you missed it:

                                                                                        LOL-I have been there many a time. When I worked on the Street, we actually hired a limo and did a pastrami tasting. In those days there was a great place on Albany St. behind the AMEX named St. Charlies that was the best. That trip included Katz, 2nd Ave and Carnegie.

                                                                                        I find Katz's hit or miss. Still great, but then again, there is no way to be 100% consistent when it comes to pastrami.

                                                                                        Pastrami King when it was out on Queen's Blvd was another great. The City incarnation lost something.

                                                                                      2. Adelman's on King's Highway has really deteriorated badly.

                                                                                        A corned-beef sandwich in March was served tough, overly fatty and cold. For a minute I thought it was poysonal because I keep loud company, but no, they're just failing. Place smelled funny too.

                                                                                        added: I had a good meal at the Stage about a year ago.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: jimmyjo1

                                                                                          Not surprised. Adelman's Brooklyn clientele all moved to Florida 30 years ago.