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Where can I get a great pastrami sandwich here in Tampa?

My latest attempt was a place called Dominick’s tucked away in the corner of a little strip mall called Bourbon Street Plaza on Ehrlich Rd. There is outdoor seating as well as more seating indoors. Troubling sign #1 was that the inside kind of reminded me of a diner, there was no deli vibe. No hanging salami or showcase sporting various cold cuts and maybe desserts. Troubling sign #2 is that Dominick’s doesn’t know what type of restaurant it wants to be. They serves Italian food, Peruvian food, Burgers, Greek food, chicken wings, and a partridge in a pear tree.

My sandwich was OK. I ordered a pastrami on rye with mustard and extra pickles. I found out when I got home there was no mustard on the bread, What freaked me out was all the melted Provolone cheese on top. In all fairness, had I read the description in the menu I could have opted not to have the cheese but I never thought of variations on this classic sandwich.

This is a thumbs down for me.

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  1. From a cynic that was born and raised in uptown Manhattan
    ,it's not happening all the way from the bread, the meat, the mustard and even the pickle on the side,,,

    1. "Where can I get a great pastrami sandwich here in Tampa?"

      I am going to say you can't. LOL.

      Sorry, I don't know the area well, but it seems very unlikely.

      1. Lenny's in Clearwater... Not Tampa but it's right up 19... So much great stuff... Check out this menu!


        1 Reply
        1. re: Mild Bill

          The menu sure looks promising. I haven't seen a knish outside of NYC. Thanks

        2. I'd agree with Mild Bill. I used to go to Lenny's often when I worked in that area. I have a Jewish friend who introduced me to Lenny's and has given it her stamp of approval as an authentic Jewish deli. I can't remember whether I ordered the pastrami there, but I almost certainly did. Everything I have had at Lenny's was good and a few items were great. Of course, you wanted a Tampa restaurant, and this is not Tampa.

          Another recommendation is 9246 4th St. N., St. Pete, Babalu's Restaurant. Okay, but loads of warnings about this. I am not from the east coast. I'm a midwestern WASP, now transplanted to Florida. My knowledge of New York and New Jersey delis (ground zero for good pastrami) is nil. So my background on what constitutes good pastrami is extremely limited. But I know what I like and this is good stuff.

          More warnings. I was so impressed with the pastrami that I asked the server where it came from. She didn't know, so she checked with one of the cooks. He said it came from one of their two suppliers--Sysco or some other place. I remarked that I was astonished that a mass market restaurant supplier could produce such good pastrami. I was informed by the server that Sysco and other suppliers sell a wide variety of meat qualities and this is probably true of their pastrami, as well. You get what you pay for, or so it seems.

          Another warning. Babalu's, not surprisingly, is a bar-like place which serves a wide variety of ethnic and bar foods. It has some pretensions to being a barbecue place. It sounds like the Dominick's which you described above, a place with eclectic food.

          Another warning. The pastrami is huge, thinly sliced, big, wet, and greasy (but, on that last point, no more greasy than any other pastrami I have had). The moisture drains into the bread on the underside of the sandwich. The sandwich comes in a basket. If you let it sit very long, the underside of the sandwich disintegrates, so flip it over after you get it. Eat it upside down.

          I had mine with raw onions and ball park mustard. (I can see the east coast people cringing at the ball park mustard.) The restaurant also serves pretty decent plank fries. Again, it's not in Tampa, but its location is pretty near the Gandy Bridge, as soon as you get into Pinellas County.

          1 Reply
          1. re: gfr1111

            Thanks for the input. As a former east coast person, I think I'll pass on this one. I'm glad you were so descriptive. I can tell its not what I'm looking for. Thanks again.

          2. Try Schiller's German Deli at 4327 W El Prado Blvd, near Gandy in South Tampa. I've only been a couple times while visiting family, but this place is the most "authentic" I know of. I go for the liverwurst and bratwurst, so I can't speak for the pastrami, but I'm pretty sure you can find a good version there. They've got really nice rye bread, which is an important part of a good sandwich.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gemuse

              If they have liverwurst, there is hope for the pastrami! Thanks

            2. Sorry guys, but Lucky Dill Deli in Palm Harbor kicks all the suggestions butts especially Babalu's. Are you kidding? Great review with all the warnings, lol. Lenny's is a mess, their sandwiches are about half the size of Lucky Dills, no flavor and arguably the worst potato salad ever.

              I'm from NE Philly where Deli's were born and nothing comes close in Tampa, the land that food forgot other then the Dill!

              7 Replies
              1. re: FatsofromPhilly

                I pass by the Dill once a month and I have yet to pop in because the parking lot always looks full and I'm in a hurry... But I had a feeling...

                After sitting there talking to the owners one time at Lenny's I got a pretty darn good/generous sandwich the first time I went, and got breakfast the second time...

                But I'm from Philly too and know what you're talking about... Next week I'll pop into the Dill and order too much...

                1. re: Mild Bill

                  Cool, Bill. If you like it, please let me know. Philly in da house!

                2. re: FatsofromPhilly

                  Lucky Dill uses Boars Head® cold cuts for all their sandwiches, the same one gets at Publix, the difference being that the loaf of rye bread at Publix is less stale than the three day old bread one gets at Lucky Dill....

                  1. re: byrd

                    ok, then. Good luck with that, lol.

                  2. re: FatsofromPhilly

                    It's amazing that there are guards at the Florida/Georgia border who prevent pastramis or other foodstuffs from being exported from Philly to Florida. Also, ironically, "Byrd" says on this board that the pastrami from Lucky Dill's comes from Boar's Head (which has its headquarters and originated in Sarasota, Florida!)

                    1. re: gfr1111

                      Boars Head was founded in Brooklyn by Frank Brunkhorst in 1905...

                      1. re: byrd

                        My apologies, Byrd. You are right. Boar's Head was founded in Brooklyn in 1905. However, its corporate headquarters have been located in Sarasota, Florida since 2001, according to Wikipedia.

                  3. Have you tried TooJays? It's not the best I've ever had, but it's far from the worst.


                    2 Replies
                      1. re: cavandre

                        I have tried TooJays and it was ok. I liked it better than the Lucky Dill. The only thing I liked about the Lucky Dill was their onion rings. They were great.

                      2. After the interesting discussion below, I ran across this passage in an interview with Anthony Bourdain, the author of "Kitchen Confidential." The interview was originally published in "The London Observer" and subsequently reprinted at the back in a later edition of "Kitchen Confidential". Anthony Bourdain is talking to an interviewer:

                        "Example? We have it, you [the British] don't. Even L.A., with no shortage of Jews, can't get it right. For whatever mysterious reasons, no city on the planet can make deli like a New York deli . . .

                        "No visit to New York is complete without a proper pastrami sandwich, and New Yorkers will argue over who's got the best like they're fighting over Yugoslavian real estate. A safe bet is Katz's Deli, for a nearly-as-big-as-your-head pile of steaming-hot pastrami, sliced paper thin and stacked between fresh seeded rye bread."

                        So my snarky comment below about the guards at the border of Florida seems to be true. Somehow, in Mr. Bourdain's opinion (which I respect highly), no one seems to have loaded up a truck full of New York pastrami and driven it to Florida.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: gfr1111

                          Agreed NYC has some great pastrami.

                          I love Katz and it's my go to stop for a pastrami sandwich, but it's hand cut and not paper thin. Not that there is anythin wrong with that. Carnegie Deli, 2nd Ave and others slice paper thin but the sandwiches are huge.

                          The closest I've come to great pastrami in the Bay area is from my kitchen. A corned beef smothered in pastrami spices and slowly smoked then steam finished in the oven has produced the best pastrami I've had in the Bay area. I've tried Lucky Dill, Lenny's, Jasons and TooJays and was not impressed with the meat.

                          1. re: scubadoo97

                            I think you're on to something. This may be something I need to learn to do for myself. I don't like the thin slices no matter how high they are piled. It seems to take away from the flavor. Will you share your recipe with me?

                            1. re: deelite984

                              A simple way to do it is to buy a prepared corned beef. Most are very high in salt and need to be soaked for a day or more depending on the salt content.

                              I do a fry test buy cutting a small bit off and fry in a pan to taste it. It wont be tender but you are just checking for salt.

                              After you have removed salt to your taste I coat the meat in mustard then a mix of "pastrami spices". For me that's coarse ground mustard seeds, black pepper and coriander as well as garlic powder.

                              The meat is then smoked on my smoker at 225-250F until it reaches about 180F then placed over a pan of hot water and covered and then steamed the rest of the way in the oven. I pull at an internal of 195-200. I like tender meat that doesn't fight back.

                              The meat is rested and then sliced

                              Here is a primer from amazing ribs

                            2. re: scubadoo97

                              l will be over at 7:30 with my own great cole slaw.

                                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                    Will have to check my schedule. I have some conflicts that weekend. May be able to reschedule some.

                            3. Katz's does rock. They deliver nationwide.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: FatsofromPhilly

                                I didn't know that. I'll check out their prices. Thanks

                              2. PASTRAMI 101: Authentic pastrami is made from the navel not the brisket...

                                1. i agree with Lucky Dill or TooJay's. I've also ordered salami, corned beef, pastrami to be shipped from Katz's in NYC.
                                  I just had a chopped liver on rye from Lucky Dill last night, with a Dr Brown's Black Cherry, of course :)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Manderley

                                    need to get my fat butt over there this weekend....

                                  2. The New York Deli in Orlando has a great Pastrami Sandwuch....

                                    1. Big Stein's Deli in St. Pete.

                                      1. I'd have to add my vote for the Lucky Dill in Palm Harbor. The sandwich is as big as your head and the Matzo Ball soup is pretty great. The pastry shop has everything you would want.