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Best hot pastrami on rye?

Message I'd appreciate your opinion!

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  1. You may try Millers on Polk Street. They have really great sandwiches - if you are craving a serious East Coast style sandwich I would say this is the place.

    1. This topic gets discussed frequently on this board, at least once every couple of months.

      The sad reality is, that if you are looking for pastrami similar to what you might find in delis in New York City or even L.A., there are no really acceptable alternatives here in the SF Bay Area.

      Do a "Search this board" search for pastrami or jewish deli to find previous threads.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DavidT

        Most recent jewish deli/pastrami thread, from just a couple of days ago:


      2. This is easy. The best hot pastrami on rye in the Bay Area is at The Refuge in San Carlos. They make their own pastrami, and cut it thick. It is the best pastrami I have ever had in my life. And it's a long life, and I've lived in the North East.

        Pretty good pickles, too.

        The Refuge
        963 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

          1. There is actually a decent place in the outer Richmond. I forget its name but it is on Clement at around 26th. Not the greatest ever, but pretty good quality.

            1. It would help to know what you are looking for specifically. If you're looking for something comparable to Katz you'll be hard pressed to find it. Like others have said there are some good threads on this subject that are worth checking out as this is a topic that comes up often.

              Some places in SF that I enjoy for pastrami:

              Moishe's Pipic in Hayes Valley serves a bare pastrami on rye that is piled high. Machine sliced (thin) Vienna Beef pastrami served warm.

              Tommy's Joint hand slices house made pastrami, however they serve it on a roll. It's only $5 for a sandwich though.

              Max's actually serves up a decent pastrami sandwich. While controversial I would argue that MIller's is good as well. They claim to fly in the pastrami from NYC, when I went it was flavorful and had a nice amount of fat on it.

              Memphis MInnie's serves a pastrami sandwich on Wednesday only that is my favorite in the city. It's served on a roll but it's hand sliced and house cured and smoked. Definitely worth a try, on a good week it's as close to Katz as you can get around here.

              Miller's East Coast Deli
              1725 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

              Memphis Minnie's BBQ
              576 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

              Moishe's Pippic
              425 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

              Max's Opera Cafe
              601 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA

              1 Reply
              1. re: virtualguthrie

                I'd bet my left toe that the pastrami East Coast/Miller's is flying in comes in a Boar's Head wrapper.

                Max's was actually pretty great for a while there, but they're under new management and the ingredients are not fresh. The meat is really tough now, and they're serving coleslaw, and pickles from an open exposed food station which isn't refridgerated as far as I can tell.

                Memphis Minnie's is a great suggestion however!

              2. in the east bay you can get an absolutely amazing pastrami (on roll, i believe) at Wood Tavern on College Avenue in Rockridge/Berkeley. Best pastrami sando I think I've ever had, and while it's not on rye...it doesn't need to be!

                12 Replies
                1. re: Doodleboomer

                  When did Rockridge move to Berkeley?

                  ...last I checked Wood Tavern was in Oakland.

                  1. re: Mission

                    It's an easy mistake. The Oak/Berk border is actually on that block, right in front of Ver Brugge. It is Oakland, but only by a few feet (although when people say "Rockridge", it's understood to be an Oakland neighborhood).

                  2. re: Doodleboomer

                    Wood Tavern's pastrami sandwich, while not traditional, is hands-down the best. Only available at lunch.

                    1. re: The Dive

                      My favorite, too. Not everyone likes it but it's a must-try if you care about pastrami.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Have either of you tried the pastrami sandwiches at The Refuge? If not, you might change your mind about your favorite. Just went there for lunch today. My opinon stays the same.

                        1. re: Paul H

                          Seriously, no claims about hands-down-ness until everyone's tried The Refuge's pastrami sandwich, ideally the one with coleslaw and russian.

                      2. re: The Dive

                        Just to explain for those that haven't been- Wood Tavern's sandwich features extremely thin-sliced (for pastrami) fatty, seemingly brisket cut meat. it is served hot on a crusty french roll with emmenthaler cheese and a horseradish mustard. The initial taste is a rich, luscious, almost buttery feel with some bite from the mustard/horseradish. Pepper is not dominant, but perhaps a touch of garlic, not strong on coriander, a little bit of sweetness, and extremely mellow smoke. I like the first half of the sandwich better than the second. I found something a little bitter or sharp- perhaps mustard seed flavor or almost anise (not from the sauce, but from the brine the meat was cured in) to accumulate and start to dominate the palate. It is amoeliorated somewhat by the melted fat, and if pastrami is fatty, the way to serve it is thin. Fatty+hand cut doesn't work for me.

                        Note: they have been known to skimp on meat when running low.

                        Summary: I loved it at the beginning but found the eventual overpowering sharpness to detract from my enthusiasm. I think if they altered the brine a little bit (if it is in house- I don't know if it is) it would be a superior product.

                        Disclaimer: I find the pastrami around these parts from Boars Head on up usually to be dominated by pepper notes, while I prefer it to be dominated by coriander and a mix of pepper, garlic, mustard and other spices.

                        It is definitely something that is well enough prepared that if it matches your palate there are a lot of things to love there, and to have a taste for. I think it is an interesting success for what it is, but a missed opportunity for true greatness (with the caveats of my palate mentioned above).

                          1. re: wolfe

                            That is great. Oh sweet pastrami.

                            I think I've identified the taste that builds up to unpleasant levels by the end of the Wood Tavern pastrami sandwich- caraway. I wonder if they do something to the sandwich to give it a hint of rye because they don't serve it on rye bread? I think the sandwich is texturally exquisite, with the super tender, melted fatty pastrami going wonderfully with the crusty, soft french bread.

                          2. re: P. Punko

                            Wood Tavern's comes from Niman, which uses the traditional, fattier navel end of the brisket. Their sandwich won't please a purist, but it satisfies my craving to the extent that I canceled a planned visit to Langer's when I was in LA.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              I'll never be a Saul's defender, but their pastrami is also the Niman, and it hits the spot with me. My recommendation (and what I do) is to buy a pound of it, sliced thinly, and take it home.

                          3. re: The Dive


                            Wood Tavern
                            6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                        1. http://www.saulsdeli.com/
                          Saul's has decent pastrami, though it's been debated how NY it is.