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Pastrami? Reuben? Patty Melt? What is in a name?

A recent tread on the LA Board about “Patty Melt The Best” brought to my attention that although we may all use the same name when talking about a special type of sandwich we may not all mean the same thing when using that name. I think the problem is serious and we need to have a reasonable standard for what is, and what is not. This problem might have been averted, for example, there were supposed to be fifteen Commandments but Mel Brooks dropped the third tablet and for all we know Commandments XI through XV might have made clear what is, and is not. I propose we do our best, based on our daily experiences and our Divine Right as Chowhounds, to fill-in the five missing laws. This is a first draft but please feel free to edit some Americana Twenty-first Century Enlightenment as you feel is needed.

Commandment XI, Thou shalt not make thy Pastrami sandwich wth anything that is not Jewish Rye Bread or deli mustard.

Commandment XII, Thou shalt not have try Reuben sandwich with anything other than grilled rye bread, corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing.

Commandment XIII, Remember that a Patty Melt is made with two thin beef patties stacked slightly off center to fill both ends of the grilled rye, two slices of American or cheddar cheese, and grilled onions.

Commandment XIV, You shall show steadfast love for thy double-decker Club Sandwich made with three slices of white toast, turkey on the bottom layer, and bacon, lettuce, and tomato on the top layer with mayo spread all throughout, cut into quarters -- each held together with cocktail sticks.

Commandment XV, ???

Hey, also, what city are you from?

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  1. meh. you lost me at XII, A Reuben can have pastrami or corned beef, and the proper dressing is Russian.

    21 Replies
    1. re: nkeane

      OK, I can respect that. What city you from?

      1. re: JeetJet

        JeetJet: are you from Joisey? Love love love your name! Assume you are related to WayrdJeet and WadJeet and WhoodJeetWit? I work with them here in Philly.

        Don't forget:

        Thou shalt always accompany thy sandwich with a large pickle of the kosher garlic dill variety, allowing the juice from said pickle to flow forth into the edges of thy sandwich's crust..

        1. re: PattiCakes

          Hey, PattiCakes. How ya doin, huh? Love love love your name! Yeah, we spent summertimes in New Egypt. Dad built a log cabin on da lake not far from Marshal’s Corner. I got four bruddas. WodJeet? is the oldest -- a real Hard Case from Brooklyn. My respect fo da kosher garlic dill law. PattiCakes, whadaya think bout dat Patty Melt Commandment? Am I right-on wit da two patty rule? Is dat wot yews expect in Philly?

          1. re: JeetJet

            We don't roll wid a Patty Melt like that in Philly. We do cheese steaks. Whiz and Whiz wit.

            BTW, "yews" are bushes. "Youz" is the correct spelling, unless youz is from Pittsburgh, then it's "Yins". Hey, it's a strange state.

            KaimukiMan: I second your amendment. Avocado does not belong on a righteous form of deli anywhere, anyplace,anyhow. It should be banned, and penalties assesed for it's use.

            Do we need to add a Commandment for thick liverwurst ("liverwish", here in Philly) on rye, plain yellow mustard (no foo-foo stone-ground crap), onions, & maybe sharp rat cheese sliced right offa da brick (no pre-sliced)?

            1. re: PattiCakes

              Gee,Tanks. but ah "Is dat wot yews expect" is da way my bruddas talk and wot I learned from dem.. Unless maybe , " Is dat wot youz guys expect?" No two Patties?

              1. re: JeetJet

                One Patti is plenty, as my husband would say.

                1. re: PattiCakes

                  Patti melt always one for me, wheat not rye, cheddar and onions true. Another MI thing I guess.

                  1. re: kchurchill5

                    kchurch, how many burger patties needed to make it old school? Also, whadaya think? Her be/n from Philly and all, do think that maybe PattiCakes is the dawta of Mr. TastyCakes?

                  2. re: PattiCakes

                    I've actually never had a Patty Melt with more than one patty. Can't quite see why this matters.

                2. re: PattiCakes

                  Liverwurst is one of my favorites but yellow mustard would ruin it for me. Deli mustard only please. No cheese either, kosher style only.

                  1. re: coll

                    Yellow's what I mostly grew up with, speckled horseradish mustard a later favorite, Gulden's the ultimate. I'll eat whatever's on the table. I do have to admit that my favorite is with Swiss and some sliced HB egg, but I don't necessarily do kosher; I'm a lapsed Methodist.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      Thanks for the compliment, Guldens was invented here (family mansion nearby anyway!) and although I have other boutique favorites, have to say it's pretty special. I always took it for granted.

                  2. re: PattiCakes

                    Mmmm....isn't that "youse" and "you-uns"? (We heard the latter in southeast Missouri when I was growing up. Quite declasse according to my schoolteacher-loaded family.)

              2. re: nkeane

                A Rueben is corned beef, a Black Forest is pastrami. I guess a traditional Rueben is Russian dressing (or 1000 Island, I can't remember, because everyone uses whatever they have) but I don't think anyone would blink at mustard either. I definitely prefer mustard myself. Almost anything on rye should be accompanied by mustard.

                A patty melt I thought was tuna fish? But I'm originally from NYC area , where Ruebens originated ;-). Surprised they make them all over actually.

                1. re: coll

                  so what you're saying is that a rueben HAS TO HAVE corned beef but can have either thousand or russian, which ever they have on hand. color me confused......and save me the link to a wiki page of questionable truthfulness.

                  the only other thing I have ever heard a pastrami refered to as is a Rachel. But a Rueben is more about the rye bread(please no light, or the dreaded marble rye!) Kraut, swiss cheese and Russian(yes I have seen and ate ones with Thousand, not my cup of schmaltz.....). I prefer a Pastami rueben simply for the smoky flavor to offset the sour-Kraut and fatty cheese and dressing. but whatevah!!

                  1. re: coll

                    A patty melt is strictly beef. It is grilled rye bread, cheese, grilled onions and a hamburger patty. One can make a 'tuna melt' which uses tuna salad and omits the grilled onions.

                    1. re: kmcarr

                      Most of the tuna melts that I've seen in the LA area are offered on grilled sourdough, usually listed as "Tuna Melt on Grilled Sourdough", in case you didn't know what you were gonna get. I always get my patty melts on that, too, which seems to have gotten a lot of folks riled up here...THEN IT'S NOT REALLY A PATTY MELT, IS IT??
                      Hey call it what you want. Call it Emily if you want. It's my damn sandwich.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Hey Will, I found it, Carl's Jr. calls it a "Frisco Burger" because of Sourdough coming from Frisco and all...

                      2. re: kmcarr

                        I've always had mine with Thousand Island Dressing on it. Yum! It must be a Connecticut thing because I haven't found one made like that anywhere else.

                    2. re: nkeane

                      corned beef always and thousand island always, dearborn MI originally Just a thought.

                    3. LOL! Jeet, your post made me laugh. As a Southerner, I'm ill-versed in the intricacies of pastrami vs. reubens vs. patty melts, but I can definitely appreciate your point. I'm beginning to learn that the Northern "what's authentic/good deli?" debate is similar to the eternal Southern "what's the best BBQ?" question.

                      We had "patty melts" on the grill menu in college at the University of South Carolina, and your version sounds pretty close - IIRC, I think you could substitute wheat or white bread, though.

                      1. I would like to amend XV to add: Thou shalt not include the green fruit known as avocado on thy Club Sandwich.

                        1. 11: More important than the bread (a kaiser roll is acceptable) is that the pastrami must be kept hot in a steam line pan with some water in the bottom, and picked up with a carving fork and put on the slicer or hand carved with each order Any other form of maintaining the meat should be considered traif - verboten - nicht for essen. Serving pre-sliced should be grounds for capital punishment.

                          12: Using pastrami makes it a rachel, which also uses cole slaw instead of the kraut. Either russian or 1000 island are acceptable.

                          13. What - what's a pattymelt?

                          14. While the very first club (Saratoga Springs, 1800's) was indeed a turkey club, it's been over a hundred years since a club is anything with an added layer of BLT with mayo added and cut into quarters. So a turkey club is as you described, but a ham'n cheese club or a roast beef club or bologna club are all legit club sandwiches. But not using white toasted bread is a sin comparable to worshipping the golden calf - the earth will surely split open...

                          15: Fresh pickles - half-sours - are mandatory. Not dill, sweet gherkins, breadn'butter, or any other fully pickled cucumber. Full sours (no dill) are ok to have available, but the pickle that comes with the sandwich is a half-sour - or just get out of the business.

                          My pet peeve is what passes for a deli up here in the Boston area. Anyone can call themselves a deli - I swear there's probably a place serving Chinese food with a deli sign outside, just as long as they have boar's ass crapacola. If you don't serve chopped liver and real rye bread (the soft stuff doesn't count), you're not a deli. You can serve Italian cold cuts, but you'd better have a knish or some kishke with gravy or at the very, very least - a big block of marbled halvah in the case. But isn't that like the FIRST THREE COMMANDMENTS?

                          I am the deli, your god.
                          Though shalt have no other deli before me.
                          You shall not make wrongful use of the name of deli.

                          19 Replies
                          1. re: applehome

                            agree with much of what applehome says, but I always thought that what made a club a club was the middle piece (the club) of bread. For example, much as I hate to admit it, a Big Mac is indeed a "club" sandwich.

                            1. re: applehome

                              Which means that the pastrami has to be from the navel/plate, not the brisket or (horrors) round - lean pastrami is meant for eating as a cold cut, while the far superior fatty pastrami is the only cut that benefits from the double boiler/steaming technique. It's always sad to see a place that doesn't know the important different in uses of the different cuts of pastrami.

                              And I will also give a nod to new pickles with such a sandwich.

                              And say that, when you replace the mayo with peanut butter in a BLT, you no longer have a BLT but something superior.

                              1. re: applehome

                                Applehome, I thank the Deli for you. You made me realize that the FIRST THREE COMMANDMENTS are more likely of the Mel Brooks school than the Charlton Heston. Also, very good editing - you are a loyal servant of the Deli, thy God. Just to follow your additions....

                                IV, For in six days the Deli made the Dagwood and the Club, the Bagel w/ cream cheese & Lox and every other true sandwich on the earth and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Chowhound is blessed with the Pig-Out Day..

                                V, You shall not covet your neighbour’s Hoagie; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife’s Finger sandwiches, or torpedo, or anything that belongs to your neighbour or his wife.

                                VI, The first burrito you shall redeem with a lamb double dip.

                                1. re: applehome


                                  XI - A pastrami on rye is the only way, Kaiser roll is a far second place and jfood almost gets a tick in his shoulder when one of the little jfoods wants to order it hat way.

                                  And jfood agrees with the rest

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Actually, I totally agree. The issue is that nobody up this way, a long 200 miles outside of NYC, even begins to understand what a rye bread is. So you end up being safer ordering a roll. Of course, even then, it's not a kaiser any more... it's a bulkie. Oy vey iz mir!

                                    1. re: applehome

                                      oy fer un gut bulkie.

                                      jfood is 25 miles outside new york and no one here understands that when you order a hard roll it is supposed to crunch a little on the outside. And for a return of Zeppies down in randolph, best stickies around.

                                      And BOARS head and pastrami, OMG r u kiddin? might as well complete the desecration and place it on white bread with mayo....blech

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        Hard rolls are also supposed to go stale within hours. And hand-clopped hard rolls are vanishing with each year - instead, some machine impresses rather than folds over the dough, which is not proper hard roll.... Oy.

                                        1. re: jfood

                                          boars head and prima taglia are about the only pastrami that I can get here. sigh.
                                          orowheat the best rye (at least it has caraway seeds in it)

                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                            Make your own pastrami - you'd be surprised how good it can be. Even starting out with a store-bought corned beef brisket, it comes out good. You have to have a smoker that can do a brisket for 4-6 hours (less than a Texas bbq brisket, because you're going to finish it by braising). I use hickory. Make sure that you soak the store-bought corned beef in water for 2 days, changing the water out often, otherwise it comes out way too salty - it's still faster than corning your own brisket from raw, which can take 4-5 days. After soaking, let dry, then dry rub with a mixture of crushed coriander seeds, mustard seeds (I use brown and yellow), black pepper, granulated garlic and granulated onion, and leave in the fridge overnight. Smoke for 4-6 hours at no more than 250F - inside should be at 180F - don't let it get hotter, as you don't want it falling apart. You can store in fridge or freezer or finish to eat right away. To finish, braise in water (water 1/2 way up sides in a dutch oven or deep pan with aluminum foil to seal) at 250F for 1-2 hours.

                                            The really cheap point cuts are sometimes so fatty that they have little meat on them once you get through - the fat gets rendered and they shrink to nothing. So if you're going with a supermarket cheap corned beef, stick with the flat. But if you can get a good quality point cut with the deckle in tact, it can turn out really great. Honestly - there are times when I think I can match Katz's (I know - impossible... but it sure beats driving 400 miles for a pastrami sandwich).

                                            1. re: applehome

                                              thanks applehome, now if i just didn't live in a condo.... ah well, good to know there are alternatives.

                                              1. re: applehome

                                                Noice. And here I just got the new Weber Smokey Mountain! Any tips on buying the corned beef? I'm near the LI Fairway, and I know they have prime brisket, but I don't recall seeing any real choices in corned beefs. They always seem to come in a sealed, opaque bag. Any brands I should look for?

                                                1. re: sbp

                                                  There are so many cheap, sealed bag corned beef everywhere, it's hard to tell what's what. Coming up to St. Paddy's day, the grocery stores are going to be filled with this stuff - from $1.59/lb to $3.49/lb. They probably all come from one or two processing plants. I don't have any particular brands I like better than others, and I'll admit that it's sort of hit or miss. Everything's edible - but whether you end up with "damned near Katz's" or "well... it was good, but..." - is really up to what comes out of the bag. It's somewhat out of your control. I mainly just get home, open the bag and decide which one to use for pastrami and which to just braise and eat as corned beef.

                                                  The rules are - point cut is better than flat, especially if it has been cut with a good portion of the deckle (the layer on top of the flat). The issues is that the fat layer in between the two sections can sometimes be overwhelming. You still want to cook it in tact, but it shrinks a lot and then you still probably want to trim off what's left. I mean - I'm a fat lover, my tolerance for not-so-well trimmed pastrami is way higher than my wife's. And yet, sometimes, even I get overwhelmed. So buying a flat cut, for these purposes, is not such a bad thing. They're going to be layers of fat anyway - that's what these cheap briskets are all about. It's just that one huge fat layer between the main part and the deckle that can be so big that it ruins the final product. One way to look at it is - for $1.89/lb, who cares? I'll make three, trim them down to nothing, and still be ahead of the game. But cutting across the sections is what makes such a nice slice of pastrami - like having the cap on a rib-eye. It's just nice when you get the right piece like that. Oh - and to be clear - trimming before you smoke it is completely verboten. Losing that fat as it renders down and into the muscle is... well... you might as well go eat that Boar's head "black pastrami" - from the round - with mayo on white.

                                                  The local butcher makes his own - very high quality - but it's gray (non-nitrated). I've found that gray corned beef just doesn't work for pastrami. Wrong flavor, wrong texture.

                                                  So the way to gain control over the meat quality is to corn your own - I've followed Ruhlman's recipe in his book Charcuterie with success (using pink salt). My only problem is that I can't work with whole briskets, like I do for my bbq brisket - I don't have anything big enough to pickle a whole one. So I end up cutting into halves anyway - the point and the flat. Generally, I save the flat for kosher style braising, and corn and then smoke the point, for pastrami. You have to have a fairly dust and germ free environment for brining that doesn't fluctuate in temp a lot. I have a German ceramic pickling crock that has weights and a water seal on top, but it's not big enough for the whole brisket. I don't have enough room in the fridge (brining in the fridge takes twice as long, but is still safer), so I don't do this in the summer. But the rest of the year, leaving the jug in the basement keeps it cool and consistent enough for brining and pickling. Here's a source for the Gairtopf/Harsch crocks if you're interested - I have the 20 liter - maybe if I had the 50 liter, I could do whole briskets (and enough kraut to cure scurvy forever).


                                                  BTW - I use the same crock whether I'm desalinating store-bought, or pickling my own. Ruhlman shows pictures of using a plastic storage box and putting it in the fridge - I just never have enough room in my fridge.

                                                  1. re: applehome

                                                    A lot of people seem to think Best is the best. I don't like it enough to buy a whole one though, as there's only two of us. so I'm going by word of mouth.

                                                    1. re: applehome

                                                      Thanks. Lots of detail! By the way, re trimming off fat pre-smoking, I've done this with the skin and fat on a pork shoulder, but here's the trick - I don't toss it out, I lay it on top during the smoke. The fat renders into the meat, there's enough air space for bark to form, and afterwards, you just pluck it off. Easier to trim a firm raw slab of meat then a fully smoked one that's just waiting to fall apart.

                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                        Instead of pickling the meat for your pastrami, you can dry cure a whole brisket in a ziploc bag in the fridge. You can use the space above it to store other things since weighting it is good. Turn it over every day or two. A whole brisket will take from 14 - 28 days to cure, depending on the thickness and the spice intensity you want. While this is much longer than brining, it is absurdly easy and the resulting pastrami, IMO, tastes better.

                                                        I agree that nitrate free corned beef is fine, but nitrate free pastrami is just not right.

                                                        1. re: embee

                                                          I take it you use DQ#2 (potassium nitrate) instead of DQ#1/pink salt (sodium nitrite) for the dry rub? For that long of a process, nitrate would seem to be a better choice.

                                                          For me, I just don't have the room to spare. A whole brisket is bigger than a shelf (I have one of those vertical 1/2 split fridges), so I can squeeze it in there diagonally (I do when I'm smoking the whole thing as q and dry rub it and leave it overnight). But I have to clear out a shelf, and that often involves coolers and such. A 1/2 Brisket (point or flat) would be easier to manage, but still, the idea of something taking up that much room in the fridge for so long is a bit much. I've always wanted a second fridge - but I don't particularly want this one to be my second fridge because of the width issue, so getting a new fridge and making this one the second in the garage or basement isn't such a good idea. I should just buy a used fully wide one.

                                                          Maybe I'll try this with a 1/2 Brisket. Do you do this both for Pastrami and Corned Beef or just for Pastrami? Have you eaten it as corned beef before smoking, and is it good that way? I would imagine that the salt content of the rub is going to need to be carefully measured (somewhat) - I mean it's not baking, but you have to achieve the point where the cure is complete, but the meat is not so salty that you can't eat it. By the time the salt and nitrate have penetrated to the core, is the outside too salty to eat? That's my problem with the commercial corned beefs. I can barely stand the saltiness when eating them as corned beef, but when smoked into a pastrami they're inedible - which is why I desalinate them. Brining has the advantage in terms of penetration and even treatment of the meat. But these commercial ones are brined, so obviously, you can oversalt there as well.

                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                            I presumed a retail half brisket. I couldn't fit a whole one into my fridge either.

                                                            Since the "pink salt" I get is white, I always get confused about this terminology. If I am curing a large brisket, I would usually use Prague Powder #1 whether I am brining or dry curing. I would use PP #2 for something that will hang outside of the fridge to age/dry.

                                                            I rinse my dry cured meat many times and then let it dry before smoking. For pastrami, I use a water pan in the smoker. For brined meat, rinsing more than once is a judgment call.

                                                            I do not use any nitrate in a corned beef cure. I don't care if it's gray - I find it actually tastes better. For pastrami, the nitrate seems to be part of the flavour - I assume an interaction with the smoke.

                                                            Depending on how I've spiced it and the size of the brisket, I will sometimes use some of the curing solution in my corned beef braising liquid.

                                                            Where I live, Toronto, I haven't found a pre cured brisket at a rational price that approached edibility, however enhanced. This is undoubtedly not the case in many other places.
                                                            For a small piece of brisket, I use Tender Quick. The Prague powder is too concentrated relative to the weight of the meat.

                                                            1. re: embee

                                                              That's interesting. In the US, it's illegal (AFAIK) to sell sodium nitrite without the pink coloring. So whatever the brand, #1 is always pink and #2 (pottasium nitrate/saltpeter) is usually a yellowish tint (although that isn't mandated by law). The brands I've seen here are DQ and Instacure.

                                                              The pink salt sold here is already significantly diluted - it is 6.25% sodium nitrite and the rest salt. And then, the brine recipe I use (from Ruhlman) dilutes it further with only 5 teaspoons (25 grams) per gallon of water, where you're also adding another 2 cups of salt.

                                                              I always use a water pan in my smoker - I think everything - ribs, sausages, and all forms of brisket and pork butte, come out better when not totally dried out. Even when I made landjaeger, which is supposed to be a dry sausage almost like a jerky, I used the water pan while smoking and then let it hang afterwards to finish drying in my "sausage box" - which is just a clean vertical box I keep in the cool basement.

                                                        2. re: applehome

                                                          ive had nothing but success using a large cooler(50qt.)for brining, desalinating, or marinating large cuts. In 90degree weather, I put it in the basement(or any place with little temp fluctuation, an interior closet works in the absence of a basement) and add a couple trays of ice cubes to the water every day. works perfectly.

                                          2. Reubens have Russian Dressing!

                                            1. Jfood is crying since all of these remind him of his youth in NJ and none of these are available in CT.

                                              XI - Perfect
                                              XII - Slight modification, it's Russian Dressing.
                                              XIII - Jersey and Patty melts do not overlap from jfood's childhood
                                              XIV - The cuts needs to be on the diagonal so you have four triangles not four squares. And the toothpicks should have that swirling colored stuff on the end

                                              XV - Here's the NJ coming out of jfood. A Sloppy Joe is NOT a load of ground beef and sauce. It is the PERFECT triple decker. Here is a photo of a true sloppy joe


                                              11 Replies
                                              1. re: jfood

                                                Wait, *that's* a sloppy joe? It looks wonderful but I've never heard of it before. I'm a midwesterner and here we call a saucy loose meat concoction on a soft bun a sloppy joe.

                                                I love Reubens, all of the variations sound so good. We always made them with Thousand Island, I'll have to try Russian dressing.

                                                A Patty Melt is a cheeseburger on rye with grilled onions in this neck of the woods.

                                                1. re: fern

                                                  to be clear on the russian, it is NOT that dark red stuff in a bottle. it is a slight variation to thousand island. if you have never heard/seen the NJ Sloppy, then jfood wants to make sure you do not take the sweety red stuff and do a WTF.

                                                  If you look at the phot again you will see some "pink" stuff coming out of the middle layer. That's the Russian many refer to.

                                                  Here's a little history of the Real Joe


                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                    The only difference between Russian and Thousand Island is the addition of relish I believe. Not such a big deal to me, but then again I love relish. Not worth buying another jar unless I ate it every day.

                                                    1. re: coll

                                                      Thousand Island and the Russian you and jfood are discussing are very close, but jfood wanted to make sure you did not use the following on the sandwich


                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        Ayiiii, never saw such an animal!

                                                      2. re: coll

                                                        well that's easy enough. so it's just thousand island without relish?

                                                        must make some version of this sandwich next week.

                                                  2. re: jfood

                                                    I may be heading to South Orange, NJ, when next in NYC. THAT Sloppy Joe looks only about a gazillion times better than what the lunch lady served. Holey moley.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      you have no idea. it is one of those things you eat til you feel ill.

                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        anyone who happens to be passing through milburn and coming into NYC

                                                        i want a milburn deli joe, STAT

                                                        1. re: thew

                                                          and a dozen from marty across the street. jfod only has three left in the freezer

                                                    2. re: jfood

                                                      I swear to Gawd. I cannot fo da lifeame get dat Sloppy Joe off my mind. I am awe struck by dat picture. It is a purfict sandwich! I can see me holding it with the pointers and thumbs of boat o'my hands with my pinkies pointing up and mouth open real wide.

                                                    3. Visited a restaurant in CA, sorry don't remember well, south of San Fran but not LA, small town. Wish I remembered, It was driving and we arrived at 3am in the am. A small little breakfast hole. But they made all breakfast and lunch food. Club build your own, They had 6 house favorites but you could add anything. Same with the hoagie, 6 house favorites or make your own, same with the omlettes, bagles, etc. You get the idea.

                                                      Well On house club had bacon, onion, avacado, mango, roast turkey, cheese, etc ...

                                                      Another was seafood, bacon, fresh fruit ...
                                                      Another corned beef, ham, tomato lettuce and grilled onions ..

                                                      The list went on and on, it was pretty cool and they were all unique with different breads and different sauces or aiolis, dressing, etc. Definitely good.

                                                      So .. don't ask them what a club sandwich is. I think it is really realevant to where you grow up. There may have been one traditional version but today, most people don't remember that. I think the standard is what you grew up with and what you are used to. But who am I to say?

                                                      42 Replies
                                                      1. re: kchurchill5

                                                        There's a reason why us right coasters call it la-la land... all the way up the left coast. We're discussing the origins here, not the perversions. The midwest has some interesting evolutions, but by the time you get all the way out there you begin to understand that they're all descendants of the Donner party. Not really, of course, but really, they have it too good - everything's growing on a tree in front of them. Fresh is nice, but sometimes for good essen, you have to work at it. Bagels didn't fall off trees, and pastrami and smoked fish had to be smoked to keep it longer - even in Brooklyn and in my father's time, the Lower East Side. The first waves out, into Westchester, Joisey and LI brought out a lot of these traditions that grew into their own local standards. Californi-ay and traditions? Fish tacos and stuffed burritos, maybe. Good deli? meh.

                                                        1. re: applehome

                                                          Oh, oh. Looks like somebody better tell La La Langer's to turn in their world class pastrami and rye seeing as how they are on the LH Coast and all. lol

                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                            One exception - the one everyone knows. Hey - the Dodgers came from Brooklyn. It ain't completely devoid of culture and great food. But other than Langer's, you don't go to LA for deli any more than you go to NYC for great fish tacos.

                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                              When the one exception is rated the best in the country then it's worth talking about. And now that the Dodgers have been in LA longer than they were in Brooklyn I guess we can put that canard to bed too.

                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                gee, jfood must have missed the email with the ballot.

                                                                california has contributed plenty to the cuisine of americas but deli? don't think so. and dont get jfood started on california flatebread, oh sorry, pizza. :-))

                                                              2. re: applehome

                                                                Two exceptions, Langers and Canters. Both have devotees, but in a pinch all will agree that both are far superior to anything else available.

                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                  I still say that servorg misses the boat on this thread. It's just not about what LA is about. It's not that the Dodgers have been in LA longer, it's what the impact of their moving out there was for Brooklynese - a symbol of the cultural movement and dilution. Deli was part of the European-Jewish immigrant culture in NYC that moved out to the burbs and became established there in our generation (60's/70's).

                                                                  There are indeed places where the universe revolves around - particular to specific cultures. Saying LA is great for deli because of Langers and Canters is like saying Boston is great for Texas Ribs because of Fireflly's and Blue Ribbon. There may be good food at these places, but a bbq culture doesn't exist here. BBQ brisket still revolves around Texas.

                                                                  1. re: applehome

                                                                    It really comes down to the fact that one can't eat revolving universes. So when you dismiss an area, be it LA or Boston or wherever, for any certain food item or type of cuisine then you may miss something that is wonderful. Langer's is simply an example of that phenomena.

                                                                    And the Dodger's moved to survive and to thrive. A lot of people and businesses have done that. Why else would we have so many ex-NY'er living out here in the land of sunshine. Self preservation and personal pleasure is a powerful motivator. ;-D

                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                      And where did jfood diss Langer's before you attacked him for having a NY ego, which he resents. Then you attacked his feigning the like of many contributions of the LC.

                                                                      Not cool bro.

                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                        You jumped in the pool regarding my comment to applehome's assertion that Deli in LA pales in comparison to NY. If you jump in you have to be prepared to get wet.

                                                                        Simply pointed out that we have what is widely regarded as the best pastrami and rye purveyor in the country with Langer's. I also pointed out that some greater NY area hounds seem to believe that for certain foods, if it ain't in NY or NJ ("...but deli? don't think so. and dont get jfood started on california flatebread, oh sorry, pizza...") it's going to be crap. Not so. And if that approach has nothing to do with location ego then what? NY area has great food. Does it make it any better if you drill other areas for not "measuring up" in your minds?

                                                                        If you all don't want to get called on it then refrain from doing it.

                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                          Wow, ego is not dependent on coast line.

                                                                          "When the one exception is rated the best in the country then it's worth talking about"

                                                                          Wow, you guys get "one exception" yippee-aye-oh-kay-ay. Jfood thinks your coast contributed that word to the english language in some cowboy show in the 50's.

                                                                          And what did Langers "contribute"? They may have improved, but that is always in the hands or tongues of the eater, but contrbute a pastrami sandwich, or a knish, or some good solid corn beef? Nope, it took and idea and maybe, and jfood said maybe made it better. Contribute is an initial act but then again imitation is the best form of flattery.

                                                                          But jfood, always trying to see the best will give Langers credit for "contributing" the following:

                                                                          1 - placing cream cheese on pastrami and if needed you can have a slice tomato
                                                                          2 - calling a sandwich with a tomato a "numbered combination"
                                                                          3 - serving "straight chile"
                                                                          4 - Placing the following under the heading, "Hot Pastrami Special Sandwiches"..."CORNED BEEF Sauerkraut and Swiss Cheese Grilled on Rye". guess it's pretty special when you do not get any pastrami on that special sandwich.
                                                                          5 - Pastrami is made with "costly" spices. Yup let's impress everyone with the price of the ingredients. Guess the immigrants in the Lower East Side would like that one
                                                                          6 - And it's "Russian Dressing", what a bunch of lawyers wanted them to call it "Russian Style Dressing". Jfood guesses if you are the major contributor, then you have to modify your contribution to the Cossacks but not the immigrants.
                                                                          7 - What, customers at Langers can't choose between three bread choice? Why do you need "#33 - PATTY MELT on Rye or Sourdough $11.95 (Juicy Ground Beef, Melted American Cheese, Served with Onions, Pickles, Cole Slaw and French Fries) AND #66 - BURGER MELT on a Bun $11.95 - (Juicy Ground Beef, Melted American Cheese, Served with Onions, Pickles, Cole Slaw and French Fries). Can't order #33 on a bun?

                                                                          Oy, this is tough on a sunday morning with only one cup of coffee. But maybe he'll go back to a little novy (or should jfood called it smoked sahl-mon) on a bagel with a schmear (or is that now a Numbered Combination Sandwich?)

                                                                          It's been fun Serv, but jfood does not really care who serves the best and will always try to find the best but when the word is "contributed" it sorta means originated as well. The Dodgers do play in LA, but Brooklyn "contributed" them to baseball.

                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                            Just think of it in the same vein as Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of that little church in Germany back in the day. We may be called left coast heretics, but I'll give up my creamed cheese and pastrami on rye when they pry it from the cold fingers of my dead hand (probably from a heart attack due to eating too many pastrami sandwiches at Langer's).

                                                                            1. re: Servorg


                                                                              Comparing ML and Langers...quite a leap of something

                                                                              And given the proximity of the #65 Langer debacle with #'s 63 & 64
                                                                              ML Theses:
                                                                              63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.
                                                                              64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.

                                                                              Guess Langer put #65 sandwich into #64 Theses

                                                                              Please pass the Dr. Brown Cream soda and enjoy the weekedn

                                                                      2. re: Servorg

                                                                        Actually, my family lost income moving to LA after selling homes in Brooklyn & NJ, but Mom loved her Dodgers and when they moved they took her heart with them. We had to follow... That said, I really cannot believe that the Dodgers have any Brooklyn roots with that crappy "Dodger Dog" they sell at the park.in L.A. Which makes me wonder which dog in the USA has "Commandment" status as the only true "Frank?"

                                                                        1. re: JeetJet

                                                                          Let us continue to mourn the long-gone, righteous Dodger Dog, which (I am told by those who should know) used to be a perfectly good extra-long wiener - do not recall being told who made it. But then the cheap-meat hacks at Farmer John's made a lower bid and got the franchise, including the right to sell their pallid, bland horrors as Dodger Dogs in the supermarkets.

                                                                          I know of no mass-market weenies that I'd elevate to True Frank status. None of the Kosher dogs can make it, because I would demand a natural casing, and perhaps some pork in the formula. There are many small butcher shops producing very fine specimens, including one about twenty minutes from where I sit, but we on the west coast have no good large-scale source. I had hope for the Boar's Head natural-casing guys, but they have an odd artificial-smoky flavor, and they gave Mrs. O and me upset stomachs both times we tried them.

                                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                                            Hey Will, IMO, probably the only true nationally known Hot Dog would have to be Nathans Famous Frankfurters with the natural casing. They are sold here in the L.A. area. That Frank has been popular since 1916 and is the real thing when the words “Coney Island Hot Dog” are said. It is extra special when you can have them with Nathan’s mustard.


                                                                            I tried Nathan’s side-by-side with the Carney’s Hot Dog sold at Carney’s here in L.A. and IMO, Carney’s has a better snap and better flavor.


                                                                            1. re: JeetJet

                                                                              Right choo are, JJ - I had plum forgotten about Nathan's. It seems to me there was a problem finding the natural-casing ones - was that here or in Nashville, can't remember. I do know that a Coney joint opened for about a year in Nashville, right across from the Exit Inn (where Keith Carradine sang "I'm Easy" in the movie), and that was the first time lots of the younger natives had tasted a dog that popped when you bit it...but it didn't last, as so many attempted transplants don't.

                                                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                "first time lots of younger natives had tasted a dog that popped when you bit it...but it didn't last, as so many attempted transplants don't" -- That makes me realize what Nathan's might be doing. They plant some of those dogs around the country in stores and air ports and if it does not take then they pull them out. But the seeds have been planted and locals later realize they "You don't know what you got untill its gone." They then tell the local stores to bring them back. That what happen in So Cal several years ago and now they are not only back being sold at Ralphs and Albertsons but I saw a Nathan's stand in a local Mall food court.

                                                                                1. re: JeetJet

                                                                                  My boss, who lives in Maine, says they have dogs there that are called "red snappers". Red, because of all of the artificial coloring, and Snappers because they snap. He claims they are very bad for you, but are THE dog of choice at a picnics.

                                                                                  1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                    In Boston they have "Boston Speeds" and that guy sells 1/2 lb "Pearl franks" with a natural casing. These are two handed dogs with a snap. I ordered some shipped from the maker (Pearl meats) and really think that if these were sold nationally they would attract many hot dog lovers both for size and flavor.

                                                                                    1. re: JeetJet

                                                                                      Your boss is correct, but a hot dog ain't exactly a health food anywhere, is it?

                                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                        nah, but he said these were worse than "regular" doggies, and hinted that they might actually make you turn red from all of the food dye (I hope he was kidding). This is coming from a guy who probably chases his down with a glass of Crown.

                                                                                        1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                          Ask him if his mother drank Allen's Coffee Brandy and milk, the real woman's drink of Maine!
                                                                                          Actually the red snappers ain't too bad, are made by a very good local butcher A. Bean, are might even be healthier than the majors. I'm a pinko, but it ain't from hot dogs!

                                                                                      2. re: JeetJet

                                                                                        Speeds does use Pearl franks, but they do a lot with them, like simmering them in cider before grilling, to make them extra-special.

                                                                                        The Pearl dogs are outstanding though. I get the 1/4 lb ones at a local supermarket, where they are sold loose at the deli counter, not pre-packaged (like old-fashioned sausage links, they are attached together in one long string and the deli clerk has to cut off the number you want) and they have great flavor and snap. I don't know of any retail outlet that sells the 1/2 lb ones.

                                                                                        1. re: BobB

                                                                                          Several of the 1/2 pound ones I got had heads on them. i swear they looked nasty, but i still could not wait to get it into my mouth. This frank could be a national leader and reach Commandment status but I agree, they gotta swim first in that cider.

                                                                                          Thou shalt baptize thy Pearl Franks in cider and grill them over fire.

                                                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                              Actually I think that's Brother Jeet - his home page mentions his wife (and he's not from MA or CT).

                                                                                              I get a kick out of his screen name because an old friend and I have a decades-old tradition of getting together on the occasional Sunday morning to go out to brunch, which always begins with one of us calling the other and saying "Jeet jet?", to which the ritual reply is "No, jew?" (Being Jewish we can get away with this and find it eternally hilarious).

                                                                                              1. re: BobB

                                                                                                my post, 'way up top. "JeetJet: are you from Joisey? Love love love your name! Assume you are related to WayrdJeet and WadJeet and WhoodJeetWit? I work with them here in Philly."

                                                                                                I gotta say it's one of the best screen names I've seen.

                                                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                                                  Oy Vey! Do you have a Russian wife?

                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                    Indeed I do, and she's as much a foodie as I am, albeit with certain unfortunate quirks, like she hates anything that involves melted cheese. Whenever she's out of town I pig out on mac 'n cheese and pizza.

                                                                                                    1. re: BobB

                                                                                                      Ochen Horror Show! Then you are the guy to ask about Russian deli and restaurants in the Boston area, pashaloosta.
                                                                                                      My mother in law was from Alston.

                                                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                        We live in Brookline, walking distance from Allston. Yes, if you're going to be in the area we can guide you to the best Russian delis. Restaurants, though - not so much. There aren't any really great ones.

                                                                                                        In one sense this is odd, considering how many Russian emigrés (some 30,000, I believe) live in the Boston area, but I've discussed this with my wife and we've come to the conclusion that going out to restaurants is just not a Russian tradition. In the Soviet era they were pretty universally awful, but the Russians became quite adept at creative foraging and creating delicious meals out of practically nothing. Now that they're over here and have food options they could barely have dreamed about in the old country, most of the ones we know put on elaborate, table-groaning spreads to entertain at home but rarely go out to Russian restaurants to eat.

                                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                          Heck, I can post the links right here. We are talking about food, after all...

                                                                                                          Our favorites are Berezka in Allston and Bazaar in Brookline. Both are true delis with lots of prepared foods, imported jams, pickles and chocolates, incredible smoked fish, salami & preserved meat products (including real Pick salami from Hungary!), Russian dairy specialties like smetana, and many varieties of frozen pelmeni (shumai-like dumplings).

                                                                                                          Bazaar also has a larger outlet in Allston that's more like a small supermarket.

                                                                                                          Bazaar International Gourmet
                                                                                                          1432 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

                                                                                                          Bazaar On Cambridge St
                                                                                                          424 Cambridge St, Allston, MA

                                                                                                          Berezka International Food Str
                                                                                                          1215 Commonwealth Ave, Allston, MA

                                                                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                                                                            Thanks, I make my own pielmeni, Hren, kolbasi, and KAPUSTA!!!

                                                                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                              My dear friend used to make me pelmeni - I adore it and have decided to try making it myself, soon. I like them fried and topped with sour cream.

                                                                                                2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                  Wot? - Wad I say? - Wot? "Sista?" BobB got it right -- brudda.

                                                                                                  1. re: JeetJet

                                                                                                    Father Jeet, Bless me, for I have sinned.

                                                                                  2. re: Will Owen

                                                                                    Back in Brooklyn, they were made by Stahl Meyer, not that anyone cares after the Dodger's more than half a century in the dessert.

                                                                                    1. re: embee

                                                                                      They're actually made by Sabrett now, different recipe, same factory.

                                                                        2. re: Servorg

                                                                          Langers may be great but someone better tell them that a Combination sandwich has at least 2 meats (adding a tomato does not a combo make). The following from their menu are weak examples of combos:

                                                                          Numbered Combination Sandwiches
                                                                          #1 - PASTRAMI Cole Slaw, Russian Style Dressing $12.70
                                                                          #2 - CORNED BEEF and TOMATO Russian Style Dressing $12.70
                                                                          #19 - PASTRAMI, SWISS CHEESE and COLE SLAW Russian Style Dressing $13.45
                                                                          #24 - ROAST BEEF Lettuce and Tomato, Russian Style Dressing $12.70
                                                                          #29 - HOT PASTRAMI and TOMATO Russian Style Dressing $12.70 #55 - CORNED BEEF with Cole Slaw and Russian Style Dressing $12.70
                                                                          #65 - HOT PASTRAMI with Cream Cheese and Sliced Tomato
                                                                          #89 - SWISS, BACON and TOMATO Grilled on Rye $9.50

                                                                          Almost gagged at #65.

                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                            #65 is disgusting. It's where pastrami and cream cheese are mated plus tomato

                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                              Langers should really let its hair down and come up with a bacon and pastrami sandwich with tomato and thousand island's on toasted buttered rye bread. Mayo is optional

                                                                      3. Taylor Pork Roll sandwich from Joisey too yaknow? A Kaiser wit duh fried pork roll, a fried egg, cheese and ketchup, nuttin' else, youknowwudImean?

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                          No no no . It's called simply taylor ham, the pork roll language immediateky makes you an alien.

                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                            South Jersey here- and it's Pork Roll Egg and Cheese-Salt, Pepper, Ketchup. Never been a huge fan, but they are tasty... aka Taylor Ham. I won't be mad if you call it what you wanna.
                                                                            In FL I've seen "Grubens" - a "Reuben" made with Grouper. And no, I have not tried it.

                                                                            1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                                                              Nope just A PORK ROLL & EGG ON A KAISER. Never heard it called Taylor Hame except from Yankees (fans). Jfodd, don't forget You're a Northerner (North of Rt. 22.), form the land of the Italian hot dog. Me, I'm from the LAND OF THE STROMBOLI ON THE RARITAN.
                                                                              MR MCGOO
                                                                              Isn't NJ a funny state?

                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                Sounds nice. I like the egg 'n cheese on a Kaiser thing. With all the talk above about Califormia not hav'in much more than a fish taco I wish to make a claim for the breakfast sandwich of Gods found only in L.A.-- Tommy's. Check dis out, We are talkin English muffin, sausage, egg, chili, cheese, mayo, pickel, tomato, and onion -- Good Morning,and congrats, you made it to "Breakfast Heaven."

                                                                            2. re: jfood

                                                                              jfood it is funny that I grew up maybe 20 miles from you and never heard Taylor Ham only pork roll. What is the dividing line between between north and south Jersey? Old Rt 22? The Raritan River? I know I was at the southern extremis of the Italian Hot Dog & Sloppy Joe. Is Taylor Pork Roll more of a southern NJ, Trenton area thing?

                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                This is Patti from Philly here. To quote Buffy, from Little Flower HS on Bandstand: I'll give the lyrics a 95, but I can only give the words a 70.

                                                                                Geez, even on the Boardwalk they were called Pork Roll sandwiches. CLASSIC downa shore food. The package that the stuff comes in (long tube-ish thing encased in a cloth "skin") has always identified it as Taylor Pork Roll. Got one in the fridge right now. There are other companies that make the stuff, but they produce but a poor imitatioin of the genuine Taylor product.

                                                                                A taylor HAM is something I use when I am sewing to help press out rounded garment corners (grin).

                                                                                VERY fond memories of a weekends camping at Watkins Glen, cooking up pork roll, egg & cheese sandwiches for a hung-over breakfast. I have to think that the PR, E & C sandwhiches were among the first grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches (other than bagels with cream cheese).

                                                                                But I digress. Obviously this cannot be classified as deli. PORK roll? I don't think so.

                                                                            3. wasnt the Rueben invented OUTSIDE of that center of culture and class, otherwise known as NYC?(snark intended)

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: nkeane

                                                                                Multiple theories on that one. Craig Claiborne researched it and said it was first created in 1914 at Reuben's Delicatessen in NYC by it's owner, Arthur Reuben. Others claim Omaha, Nebraska in the 1920's - 1930's. So snark away if it makes you happy.

                                                                              2. I never have eaten a so called Reuben and never will. I grew up eating corned beef and pastrami sandwiches that just came with mustard on rye bread. Pickle on the side and Cel-Ray soda. It's repulsive to drown them in thousand islands goop and dubious cheeses. Ham and cheese sandwich is fine but to bastardize these fine Jewish deli meats? Not going to do it

                                                                                If a freind offered me a bite of one I would refuse

                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                1. re: gafferx

                                                                                  My what an open mind. I grew up w/ just meat mustard and rye too. A Ruben is just.... a different animal and I now like them too. Why limit yourself?

                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                    I guess I just don't like the idea of pastrami or corn beef with cheese and salad dressing. I'll try all kinds of other foods, no problem. Maybe I want to keep those nice childhood memories like eating the real deal at Katz's where you won't find any Reuben sandwiches ever

                                                                                    Not that I'm kosher or anything but meat and cheese is verbotten so I don't likke mixing iconic Jewish meats with dairy. Though I'll admit Jews do not own corn beef the way they do pastrami. Others make it too such as the Irish

                                                                                    1. re: gafferx

                                                                                      Katz doesn't have a Reuben on the menu?
                                                                                      Every deli I've ever been to has a Reuben on the menu.

                                                                                      1. re: monku

                                                                                        Amazing! Katz's caved! Here is what their menu says --->>

                                                                                        $15.95 --- Reuben for years we've been keeping our corned beef, swiss cheese, and sauerkraut combo under wraps. now we're ready to go public.


                                                                                        I promise you this is not how it was.

                                                                                        1. re: monku

                                                                                          Katz's was always Kosher style --
                                                                                          Which meant the food may or may not be kosher but meat and cheese were not mixed and no shrimp and other traife on the menu

                                                                                          This policy has obviously changed

                                                                                        2. re: gafferx

                                                                                          Irish & Corned Beef.

                                                                                          I heard that in Ireland corned beef is almost unknown - they eat BACON but when the Irish immigrants settled on the LES they couldn't find bacon but they noticed their Jewish neighbors eating corned beef. Being intelligent folks the Irish adopted corned beef in lieu of bacon.

                                                                                          Katz's - I also remember it as KOSHER STYLE - no dairy. a Reuben at Katz's is shocking!! (But it is a tasty sandwich)

                                                                                          1. re: rich in stl

                                                                                            Wow! I never would have thunk it! About the Irish and corned beef. And yes. Katz's was kosher style and NYC was full of such delis and restaurants. There were many places to get good knishes and good pastrami & corned beef done kosher style. And of course these so called Rubens are not kosher style!

                                                                                            1. re: rich in stl

                                                                                              Quite correct - corned beef is an Irish-American dish, not an Irish one. See the section on St Patrick's Day here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corned_beef

                                                                                              1. re: BobB

                                                                                                Very interesting. Moral of this tale is that one must be careful when thinking a dish is Irish. It just might be of Irish American origin instead. Just like you can't find any chow mein in China

                                                                                              2. re: rich in stl

                                                                                                Corned beef USED to be unknown in Ireland, but now you'll find it on menus in all the big cities. Mostly for the tourists though.

                                                                                        3. Shame on you!!! Commandments XI - XV are reserved for the intentional wasting of Alcohol! ;-)