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Mar 18, 2013 04:55 PM

Help! Ex-New Yorker looking for good mail order NY deli(pastrami, knishes, etc)

Used to live in New York, now live in California, where there are no decent delis at all, so we try to do some mail order from New York. Am able to get great smoked fish, bagels, bialys, and chocolate but would really like a source for good NY deli food - pastrami, corned beef, knishes, in particular. Would really appreciate any suggestions. We used to get orders from the Second Ave Deli, but that was before the owner died, and they moved, so things are just not the same with them. Have also tried getting things from the Carnegie deli, but that did not work out at all. Once it was ok(though very expensive), but the next time they sent the pastrami and corned beef frozen solid, to go along with the expired a year before package of NY hot dogs. Any ideas would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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    1. re: DavidT

      Not sure why you think LA would be better a better place to order from. It's just my own personal experience, but no matter what it's called, I have not found good NYC deli any place I have tried in California. I have seen people out here frequently order their pastrami or corned beef sandwiches on wheat bread with tomato, lettuce, and mayo. Just not the same sort of thing. When, I first moved here I tried anything I could find that called itself "NY" style and quickly found that it was better to save my money and just stick to more local traditions here. And since I live in the San Francisco Bay area, ordering something from Los Angeles would not be any less expensive anyway(California is a big state, it would kind like someone in New York ordering from Portland, Maine).

      Thanks though.

      1. re: cometraveler

        If you wish to pass judgement on every deli in California, even those you have not been to, that is your prerogative.

        Langer's pastrami is highly regarded by a number of people whose opinion I respect. It is a simple question, have you or have you not tried it?

        Here is a lengthy thread comparing Langer's & Katz's:

        I have lived in San Francisco for 40 years myself. You are right, the delis here are, at best second rate. However, the pastrami Roberts Meats sells is pretty good. You should try it.

        They serve it at Tommy's Joynt. I had a pastrami sandwich there a couple of months and it was more than acceptable, better than the Carnegie Deli, not as good as Katz's. And, at $8, it tasted even better!

        1. re: DavidT

          P.S. The Katz's I recommended above is the Katz's on Houston Street in NYC.

    2. Have you tried Zabar's? I've mail ordered from them and my ex-NYer recipient was pleased (pastrami, knishes,etc.) I haven't tried their mail order goods myself because I visit frequently enough to get my fix.

      Good luck!

      2 Replies
      1. re: VaPaula

        Thanks for the info, but have not had much luck with anything called a "deli" in California (Los Angeles or San Francisco area) . I used to try them out, but found out the hard way that anything advertised as a NYC deli, actually bore no resemblance to one.

        And yes, I have tried Zabar's. Good knishes and great smoked fish. But their pastrami and corned beef, were both really, really dry and not very good. I can only suppose that this extra lean style is popular, but for me does not work well for either pastrami or corned beef. I don't know if you have more choices about it when you order in the store, but for mail order you do not. So that's why I am still looking for a place to get them from.

        1. re: cometraveler

          Have you been to or tried Langer's?

          Have you ordered/tried the pastrami from Roberts Corned Meats in San Francisco?

          Here is a thread on Roberts pastrami from the San Francisco board:

      2. Both Katz's and Yonah Schimmel have online ordering if not mistaken.

        Carnigie Deli is sold at Costco if I recall correctly.

        3 Replies
        1. re: fourunder

          Katz's on line menu looks pretty good. I notice that they also sell bagels and bialys by mail. Have you ever had them there? Are they any good?


          1. re: cometraveler

            I don't recall ever seeing bagels at Katz's, but they might have them. Not something they are known for though.
            If you want bagels shipped you'll probably be better off with Zabar's, though any bagel eaten after the day it's made is not going to be at it's best.

            1. re: iluvcookies

              They probably get them from somewhere else then. Zabar's bagels are not my favorite(though I like some things from them and they are very reliable). I usually get bagels and bialys when I order smoked fish from Barney Greengrass and they are pretty good. It would just be nice to have more options. And while I agree with you that it is not at it's best the next day, it still is a whole lot better than anything I have ever found around here. Thanks!

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. Katz's can get it all for you . They pack the pastrami in dry ice. They work with Russ on Daughters for smoked fish and bagels. Katz's has knishes too , including mini knishes and round ones.