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Wood Tavern pastrami sandwich

Warning: this is not remotely most people have in mind when they ask for a pastrami sandwich. Nevertheless, for the open-minded, it may be the best pastrami sandwich in the area. Best I've had by a long shot.

Niman pastrami (to my surprise nice and fatty), sliced thin, piled high on a length of fairly wide La Farine baguette slathered with Dijon mustard and horseradish dressing, topped with melted Emmethaler. Really great combination. The baguette holds together better than the traditional sliced rye. Some people would think it was too salty.

Comes with a wonderful cabbage slaw with cilantro and green chiles, simply dressed with olive oil, citrus, and salt, and a few slices of excellent house-made pickles. Served at lunch only. Worth a trip from San Francisco.

Wood Tavern
6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

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  1. My wife swears by that sandwich as well. Wood Tavern is one of those restaurants that just seems to be hitting on all cylinders.

    1. I've been waiting for your take on this. I need to schedule a trip. Pastrami should not be ghettoized to crumbly, thin sliced rye! Could you describe the flavors present in the rub, if they were evident?

      4 Replies
      1. re: P. Punko

        I was too busy gorging myself to analyze it that carefully.

        Definitely tasted of pork fat.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            We used to joke that pastrami came from the mythical pastrami beast, some sort of kosher relative of unkosher beasts.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            Good recommendation. We too were too busy wolfing it down to think too carefully, but I did notice that the meat was particularly moist with what must have been rendered fat. Based on the flavor, I could believe that they're moistening the pastrami with pork fat when they warm it.

            The sea smoke sandwich of smoked black cod didn't really work. The fish had perfect texture and great flavor, but wanted to slip out of the sandwich. I'd re-engineer it as a chunky spread to put over romesco-smeared toasts, accented with preserved lemon and some type of bright-tasting fresh herb.

        1. I had this for lunch today, and it was really really good. The pastrami was nicely fatty and good, and all of the condiments went perfectly. I also loved that slaw.

          1. The Wood Tavern's Pastrami Sandwich is simply the best in the Bay Area. I know it is not traditional, but it doesn't matter. In fact, it is probably the best sandwich, period, in the Bay Area. We've been known to have dinner on Friday at Wood Tavern and still come back on Saturday for that sandwich.

            1. I was lucky enough to be treated to a pastrami sandwich at Wood Tavern last week. It was a bit on the salty side for me, but overall, it was a very good sandwich. I loved the baugette, which you look at and think it's too hard to eat with the thinly cut pastrami, but it isn't. The dijon was very strong, in a good way. The pickles are very good. The slaw was okay, I like the slaw at Bakesale better, but that's me. I am lucky to live very close to Refuge in San Carlos, they have an awesome pastrami, which I think I prefer to the Wood Tavern. But, the fries at WT beat Refuge, no contest. Oh, and don't miss WT's crispy pork belly. Bacon and egg heaven.

              1. While the baguette may work for the pastrami, it is terrible for the hamburger (they also have a hamburger which is served on a baguette). Can't they get La Farine to make a bun for them?

                5 Replies
                1. re: skwid

                  Oh yes. Who ever thought that it was a good idea to serve a burger on a baguette? That's culinary snobbery gone amok!

                  On the subject of the pastrami -- I know people who would be pissed if there was undisclosed pork fat added to pastrami, so I hope that supposition is not correct.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    The problem my wife had with the baguette for the burger is the crust is too hard for use as a burger bun. If the baguette had a softer crust there probably wouldn't be much of a problem (but then it wouldn't be a baguette....)

                    1. re: skwid

                      Maybe it's a time of day issue. The baguette was ultra-fresh at lunch, and the crust was crisp but not hard. It worked perfectly for the pastrami.

                      I'm generally anti-baguette for burgers, but the baguette Wood Tavern is getting from Farine is wider than standard, and perhaps intentionally less crusty than standard to work better for sandwiches.

                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I think the baguette for the burger (which I am also anti) is more out of convenience, since they get all their bread from La Farine a few doors down. I agree that they need to get some nice brioche rolls instead.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        My remark about pork fat was a joke. I'm sure it's beef fat or the Emmenthaler.

                        As noted above I thought the baguette worked great for the pastrami. Given the choice of pastrarmi and pork belly, I can't imagine I'll ever order the burger.

                      1. I had one for lunch today. Lived up to expectations 110%. Best rendition yet.

                        Two thoughts for future visits: pull the sandwich apart and even out the meat a bit before digging in, and if you're going to order anything else, it probably makes more sense to split one between two people.