Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jun 30, 2010 09:28 AM

SF - Lunch at Orson - Pastrami Heaven

Last week, I had a fabulous lunch at Orson.

No, it did not involve a 5 course tasting menu.

But what I had was an utterly delicious pastrami sandwich with duck fat fries.

This sandwich is enormous in size. It has rich, fatty, salty pastrami as the centerpiece – good amount of pepper, I think it had some coriander too.

One of my friends from NY says it’s not authentic enough because they toast the rye. I personally don't care about whether they toast it or not.

So for all you worshippers of Millers, East Coast West, etc, here is another destination you must visit.

It easily outclasses the one at the Refuge in San Carlos – my favourite Pastrami in the greater Bay Area.

The picture was taken on my mobile phone - so it's not the best quality.

Older threads on this topic:

Best Pastrami:

Wood Tavern:


Wood Tavern
6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

Orson Restaurant
508 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Beteasily better than Refuge? Wow, that is a serious challenge!

    1. Amazing how the review highlighted restaurant Orson did not make the map.

      1. I'm very tempted by this. Do you know whether it's a regular menu item?

        4 Replies
        1. re: mrs bacon

          I know it's available for lunch and for brunch over the weekend.

          1. re: osho

            Damn it! They stop serving lunch at 2:00, and I got there at 2:03 today.

            1. re: ernie in berkeley

              That's heart-breaking. Can't wait to try it.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                I had it yesterday at lunch. It is indeed enormous--packed with lots of pastrami and huge slices of bread. I could only eat half of it and about a third of my fries. It was delicious but I thought the pastrami, though nicely flavored, was a bit too stringy. It does seem to be a regular menu item at lunch.

        2. Orson has one of my favorite lunches in the neighborhood, although I haven't gotten around to trying the pastrami because I've always been too tempted by the fried chicken sandwich. Looking forward to try the pastrami on one of my next visits.

          1. I finally made it over there today and I'm afraid the pastrami sandwich was a great disappointment--overwhelmingly salty and quite tough, with the melted swiss cheese soaking the bread to the point where I couldn't pick it up comfortably. I didn't notice much spicing amid the salt. The meat was thickly sliced, with the grain, which added to the chewy texture. I picked at it with a fork and knife, ate about half the fries (ok, not great), and that was all I could manage. Sauls was very good in comparison, and I guess I'll try Wood Tavern next.

            Wood Tavern
            6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

            7 Replies
            1. re: ernie in berkeley

              Thanks ernie, saved me a trip. Meanwhile I've got da Bronx made naval cut from Robert's warming up in the bull pen while my sourdough rye is developing.

              1. re: ernie in berkeley

                Wood Tavern will not disappoint. Perfect with fries (a la carte for $5)--thin, plentiful, perfectly fried wonderful--and one of their craft beers on draft, perhaps Old Speckled Hen, Moose Drool or Extra Hoppy Ale.

                Wood Tavern
                6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                1. re: ernie in berkeley

                  I am very surprised to hear this, did you provide feedback ? They do take it seriously. Wow.

                  1. re: osho

                    Feedback, good idea. I'll look into sending some email. But while I was there only one waiter was working the room (and answering the phone and making drinks at the bar), and one of the big tables was giving him grief over something so I didn't want to make his life worse.

                    1. re: ernie in berkeley

                      Ernie, my (now jobless) boyfriend went during lunch and had the exact same thing, practically verbatim, to say -- not only about the service but also about the sandwich itself. He waited 40 minutes for a sandwich with two other tables there and nobody else...I tried his leftovers when I got home from work. The bread was didn't have a strong rye flavor, and it was dense and soaked in oil. The pastrami was not cut thick enough, and it was stringy, dry, and overly seasoned. The best thing in that sandwich was the cave-aged Gruyere cheese — the only thing not house-made. I was so disappointed; I wanted to like it so badly!

                      1. re: t.susannah.chen

                        After all these reviews, now I need to go and eat this sandwich again. :)

                        How things can go so pear shaped within a couple of weeks is something I cannot fathom.

                        I will definitely post an update very soon.

                        1. re: osho

                          Different batches of pastrami, maybe? They cure it in-house, and someone might not have been paying attention.