The Best Joints for a Pastrami Sandwich in America

Pastrami Queen Pastrami Sandwich
Patrick W. / Yelp

Pass the Pastrami

In America, you'd be hard-pressed to find a good deli that doesn't pride itself on its pastrami, a cold cut made from beef soaked in brine, heavily seasoned, and then smoked. (True pastrami is only made of beef, though it's not uncommon to find “turkey pastrami” and other non-beef variants cured by the same method.) It's believed that pastrami originated in Eastern Europe and was brought to America by Jewish immigrants, according to Serious Eats.

 

Here, in no particular order, are 20 restaurants offering some of the best pastrami sandwiches to be found in the United States. Prepare to get hungry.

Editor's note: Prices and availability subject to change

Langer’s Delicatessen Pastrami
Geoffrey A. / Yelp

Langer’s Delicatessen

Los Angeles

Website: www.langersdeli.com

 

Langer's opened in 1947 and sells a wide array of numbered sandwiches, but its most famous is the #19: pastrami with Swiss cheese and cole slaw plus Russian dressing. A food critic for the Los Angeles Times called Langer's #19 the “Marilyn Monroe of pastrami sandwiches.” Langer's has a casual dress code, though its website asks customers to refrain from wearing tank tops “for health and safety.”

Katz's Deli in NYC Pastrami Sandwich
Katherine S. / Yelp

Katz’s Delicatessen

New York

Website: katzsdelicatessen.com

 

Katz's Delicatessen started in 1888 as a small deli and sausage factory called Iceland Brothers. In 1903, the name changed to “Iceland & Katz” after Willy Katz became a partner, and seven years later, Willy's cousin bought out the Iceland Brothers and the name changed again to “Katz's Delicatessen.”

Movie buffs will recognize Katz's as the site of the famous “I'll have what she's having” scene in When Harry Met Sally. Katz's flagship sandwich is their classic pastrami on rye (or club bread, for a dollar extra), but you can add pastrami to their Reuben sandwiches, too.

Katz's is also just one of several historic sandwich shops that changed lunch forever.

 

Attman’s Deli Pastrami
Stephen J. / Yelp

Attman’s Deli

Baltimore and Potomac, Maryland

Website: attmansdeli.com/

 

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Lombard Street in Baltimore was the center of the city's Jewish community, nicknamed “Corned Beef Row” after all the delis in the neighborhood. One of the few businesses from Corned Beef Row's heyday that still survives today is Attman's Deli, which opened in 1915. Like any self-respecting Jewish deli, Attman's offers pastrami and Reuben sandwiches on its menu (and turkey pastrami, too), and its appetizer options include “Reuben fries,” potato wedges topped with pastrami, corned beef, and melted Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on the side.

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Shapiro’s Delicatessen Pastrami
Kara M. / Yelp

Shapiro’s Delicatessen

Indianapolis

Website: shapiros.com

 

Shapiro's was founded in 1905 by Louis and Rebecca Shapiro, Jewish immigrants who fled Russia to escape the pogroms of the time. In the late 1920s, when anti-Semitism ran rampant and the Ku Klux Klan basically controlled Indiana (even the governor was openly a member of the KKK), the Shapiros nonetheless kept a Star of David prominently displayed at their place of business.

Today, Shapiro's makes its sandwiches with pastrami “sent directly from the pastrami masters in Brooklyn, N.Y.,” as they say in their online menu.

Shapiro's pastrami is definitely one you'll want to add to your sandwich bucket list.

2nd Ave Deli Pastrami
Eliana P. / Yelp

2nd Ave Deli

New York 

Website: 2ndavedeli.com

This beloved deli has been serving pastrami sandwiches since 1954. Fans of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” will recognize 2nd Ave as the deli where Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Gaffigan often stop to pick up a quick bite.

2nd Ave's signature dishes include the classic pastrami sandwich, and pastrami deviled eggs, or you can order sandwiches by number. A #4 combines hot pastrami, corned beef, and soft salami with coleslaw and Russian dressing, and a #5 is grilled pastrami and grilled soft salami with coleslaw and dressing.

You can also try their trademarked “Instant Heart Attack” — a sandwich made of two potato pancakes with your choice of meats including pastrami.

Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen Pastrami
Serge G. / Yelp

Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen

Chicago 

Website: mannysdeli.com

 

Manny's has been a Chicago institution since it first opened for business in 1942. Of course, its menu has always offered pastrami sandwiches, but to celebrate its 80th birthday in 2022, it introduced a new sandwich, named “The 80.” Made according to a slightly different pastrami recipe — same spices and curing as Manny's original pastrami recipe — but The 80's pastrami is made with beef cut from the brisket, rather than the navel, and then it is hickory-smoked, while the original is oven-roasted.

Kenny and Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen Pastrami
Zack S. / Yelp

Kenny and Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen

Houston

Website: kennyandziggys.com

 

Ziggy Gruber's family has been in the deli business since the 1920s, but not until 1999 did he leave the northeast to open for business in Houston (though customers don't have to be in Texas since, as their website says, “we schlep nationwide”).

The deli's pastrami is soaked in brine for 45 days and smoked three times, giving it a smokier taste than many pastramis. Gruber is also featured in “Deli Man,” a 2015 documentary about the importance of delicatessens in Jewish-American culture.

Mendy’s Kosher Delicatessen Pastrami Sandwich
Andrea K. / Yelp

Mendy’s Kosher Delicatessen

Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York

Website: mendysdeli.com/

Mendy's is a Glatt Kosher delicatessen chain that opened in New York City in 1988. It famously appeared in a “Seinfeld” episode, when Jerry offers to buy Kenny Bania a meal at Mendy's as payment for a new suit.

Mendy's pastrami sandwich offerings include the “Jerry Seinfeld” (pastrami and chopped liver smothered in fried onions) and the “Larry David” (pastrami, salami, and brisket with hot sauce, jalapeños, and side sauces).

Sam La Grassa’s Pastrami Sandwich
Hieu L. / Yelp

Sam La Grassa’s

Boston

Website: samlagrassas.com

 

A good pastrami is supposed to be spicy, but Sam la Grassa's signature Pastrami Diablo sandwich is even spicier thanks to such added toppings as hot cherry peppers, chipotle mayo, and jack cheese. They also offer a Chipotle Pastrami with chipotle honey mustard, a Southwestern pastrami, and several other pastrami-sandwich variants.

Sam La Grassa's dining room is only open for lunchtime on Monday through Friday, but they accept online orders 24/7.

Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop Pastrami Sandwich
Brandy P. / istock

Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop

San Francisco (formerly New York)

Website: eisenbergsnyc.com

Eisenberg's first opened for business in New York in 1929, the same year the stock market crash kick-started the Great Depression. Not the best time to start a business, but Eisenberg's thrived for decades until COVID shutdowns and other business problems forced it to close its iconic New York location.

However, since 2022 a pop-up version of Eisenberg's has operated in San Francisco, selling two sandwiches: “our famous Reuben” featuring either pastrami or corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye; and a  “combo Reuben” featuring both types of meat.

Harold’s New York Deli Pastrami Sandwich
Pamela L. / Yelp

Harold’s New York Deli

Edison, New Jersey 

Website: haroldsfamousdeli.com/

 

Like most delis, Harold's makes their own pastrami, right on the premises. They recently added what their website calls “the world's largest pickle bar,” where pickle-loving patrons can help themselves to a wide variety of pickles served buffet-style.

Harold's sandwiches are sold in three sizes: “junior” (intended for one person), “large” (2 to 4 people), or “X-large” (5 to 8). Prices for a hot pastrami sandwich range from $24.95 for the junior size to $95.95 for a large.

The Hat Pastrami Sandwich
Icaria J. / Yelp

The Hat

Pasadena, California

Website: thehat.com/pasadena/

 

The Hat has sold its “world famous pastrami” (their words, not ours) from its Pasadena location since 1951, though it has since expanded to almost a dozen locations.

Unlike most pastrami-sandwich shops,  The Hat offers au jus and other dipping options for its pastrami sandwiches, and its “Pastrami Dip” is featured prominently at the top of its online menu.

Noshville Pastrami Sandwich
Kacy M. / Yelp

Noshville

Nashville 

Website: noshville.com

Noshville calls itself “an authentic New York style delicatessen,” though its menu features deli favorites from all across the country. You can get the traditional pastrami on rye, but other bread options include pumpernickel, sourdough, and wheat.

Noshville offers traditional pastrami sandwiches, as well as turkey pastrami and a wide variety of other deli classics, all served under the punniest name on this list.

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen Pastrami Sandwich
John K. / Yelp

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen

Philadelphia 

Website: famous4thstreetdelicatessen.com

 

Founded in 1923, the Famous 4th Street Delicatessen has kept Philadelphians fed for a full century now. It's de rigueur for politicians in the city to make Famous 4th Street a stop on the campaign trail, including former President Obama who visited the deli during a previous campaign.

Of course, the deli includes hot pastrami and pastrami Reubens among its sandwich offerings, but it also offers pastrami cheeseburgers, pastrami cheesesteaks, and pastrami and egg breakfast sandwiches.

Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen Pastrami Sandwich
Greg S. / Yelp

Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen

Portland, Oregon 

Website: kennyandzukes.com

 

Ken Gordon and Nick Zukin opened for business when they couldn't find a good Jewish deli in Portland, so they opened their own. Their oak-smoked pastrami appears in classic sandwiches and also in the “pastrami hash” on their breakfast menu.

Larder Delicatessen and Bakery Pastrami Sandwich
Danielle P. / Yelp

Larder Delicatessen and Bakery

Cleveland

Website: larderdb.com

 

Larder hasn't been around very long — it only opened in 2018 — but it hit the ground running, and almost immediately started collecting James Beard Award nominations.

The deli is particularly renowned for its pastrami made with koji, a microbe traditionally used in Japan to make soy sauce, miso paste, rice vinegar, and sake, among other things. Larder's koji-treated pastrami cures in only three days, compared to traditional pastrami, which generally needs to soak in brine for at least three weeks. The pastrami’s spice rub contains the typical black pepper and coriander but also includes reishi mushroom powder to add an earthy depth of flavor.

Crown Burgers Pastrami Sandwich
Joe S. / Yelp

Crown Burgers

Salt Lake City

Website: facebook.com/CrownBurgers33SState

 

If pastrami on rye is the unofficial sandwich of New York City, then the pastrami burger is the unofficial sandwich of Salt Lake City. Many restaurants throughout Utah offer pastrami-topped hamburgers on their menu, but Salt Lake City's Crown Burgers, founded in 1978 by Greek immigrants, is believed to have been the first. The menu offers a variety of burger options but the pastrami-topped crown burger is its best-seller

Pastrami Queen Pastrami Sandwich
Patrick W. / Yelp

Pastrami Queen

New York

Website: www.pastramiqueen.com

 

This certified kosher deli first opened in Brooklyn in 1956, under the name Pastrami King. When the business moved to Queens it changed its name in honor of its new location, and the name stuck when the business moved again, to its current location on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Its smoked pastrami is hand-cut, and Anthony Bourdain called the result a “real-deal pastrami sandwich.”

Feldman’s Deli Pastrami Sandwich
Frank E. / Yelp

Feldman’s Deli

Salt Lake City

Website: feldmansdeli.com/home

 

As a New York-style delicatessen, Feldman's is one of the few pastrami sandwich joints in Salt Lake that doesn't put pastrami slices on top of a burger. But it does offer more than half a dozen different pastrami sandwiches for lunch and dinner — not just the classic pastrami on rye, but also the “sloppy Joe” (corned beef, pastrami, coleslaw and Thousand Island dressing), the “Rachel” (pastrami, Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Thousand Island), the “Little John” (a half-pound each of pastrami and corned beef, with mustard, on rye), and more. There are also pastrami omelets on the breakfast menu.

Call Your Mother Pastrami Sandwich
Phan D. / Yelp

Call Your Mother

Washington, D.C. 

Website: callyourmotherdeli.com

 

Call Your Mother calls itself “a Jew-ish deli,” and combines classic Jewish deli ingredients into brand-new dishes in addition to the classic pastrami on rye (or challah, if you'd prefer).

The “Sun City” sandwich combines pastrami, bacon, “bodega-style eggs,” cheddar and American cheeses, and spicy honey, and the “Jetski” melt is brisket and pastrami, American and cheddar cheese, and jalapenos, with more cheddar melted on it.

This article was originally published on Cheapism

Pastrami Queen Pastrami Sandwich
Patrick W. / Yelp

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