NYC Jewish Delis

100% agree and never a lineup. RIP :frowning:

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Yes, and no. I’ve had “Carnegie” in person at least 20 times, and delivered as often. Ditto Katz, likely more often. Less often, but still several times, 2nd Ave and Sarge’s. In-person is always better, but pastrami, corned beef, and chicken soup travel (within modest limits) well.

Mine are not the comments of somebody who had it once years ago and either loved it or didn’t, but can’t remember why.

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My dad introduced me to ordering stuff shipped from Russ & Daughters way before there was a Gold Belly - he’d just call them and someone would tell him what was the best smoked salmon to get that day. I’d always ask him to get extra onions in the pickled herring. He’d get matjes herring for a lifelong friend who lived nearby.

Much better: Deli City in DC, the area where I live. I get a combo corned beef and pastrami. The great limitation there is that it’s only open for lunch M-F.

I find Katz’s to be rubbery.

At the risk of posting what everyone already knows (never stopped me before), Russ & Daughters should not be in this thread, as it is not a “deli”. Here’s the best explanation (in their own words): https://www.russanddaughterscafe.com/#whatisappetizing

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Had lunch there recently.

Very nice chopped liver that was so finely chopped it was almost like a mousse. Lovely wife had corned beef sandwich. They had run out of rye (horrors!) so she had it on wheat. Good, nothing special.

I had the Flatiron Delight with pastrami. Tasty.

It’s an interesting spot but I am not convinced the wait in line is justified though.

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S&P makes a great pastrami sandwich IMO. Tender, just fatty enough, and the seasoning pops in a way that you won’t find at Katz’s etc. Sandwich is smaller, but cheaper - a happy trade-off, for my needs.

On that note, I’d also recommend David’s Brisket House in Bed Stuy, which, in terms of value, can’t be beat. However, they basically only sell sandwiches and Dr. Browns, so it’s a stretch to call it a “deli.” Also, it’s not particularly “Jewish” anymore either, since it’s been owned by Yemenis since the '80s. Judging from the food, you’d never guess: the sandwiches are as classic as it gets, plus priced very reasonably compared to Manhattan counterparts. I’m a fan.

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Second Avenue Deli - pastrami on rye


Pastrami is delicious, but seems about half the size of Katz’s for about the same price. Same gummy rye bread as Katz’s. The last time I was here they were actually on 2d avenue. I think the hand cut pastrami you get at Katz’s and Langers are a whole different level than the machine sliced.

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I haven’t tried all the options people mention above. My main experience has been with Katz’s, 2nd Ave., and in bygone days Carnegie and Stage. I preferred Carnegie back in the day, but like the versions at Katz’s and 2nd Ave. As mentioned in our recent trip notes, we preferred the brisket out of the 3 main meats. We haven’t had the tongue in years, so can’t remember it well enough to compare.

We really enjoyed Langer’s in LA, but that was about 15 years ago and impossible to directly compare to the NYC options based on memory.

I disagree that Montreal smoked meat is essentially pastrami. I find the flavour more dominated by the spicing in Montreal smoked meat and prefer it over pastrami hands down. I’m on team Schwartz’s and we usually take a vacuum-packed whole brisket home with us after visiting Montreal.

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Agree, Montreal smoked meat is distinct from pastrami.

Sarge’s is my go-to deli in Manhattan. Partly because I tend to stay within a mile of its location. I’m more into the non-sandwich options, though.

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I also agree.
When I’ve explained it to people who haven’t had it, I call it a “cousin” to pastrami and corned beef. If someone likes either of those, they will probably like smoked meat too. And I say this as a fan of all 3, pastrami being my #1, with the others neck and neck for 2nd place.

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I’ve been to the new Liebman’s twice (and the original location at least a dozen times). New place has the same quality as the Riverdale location.
Both the sour and half sour pickles are quite good, though I prefer the half sours.

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Have you tried Turkish Bastirma / Pastirma? That’s what the word pastrami comes from. I tried it a few weeks ago. That’s Pastrami’s ancestor.

Lately, I’ve been more fond of Corned Beef than Pastrami.

I probably would rank my preferences Corned Beef, Montreal Smoked Meat, Pastrami today, but I wouldn’t turn down any of them

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I have my doubts about this. I’ve read the same sort of articles. But in my mind a minced meat seasoned air dried product bears more resemblance to salami than pastrami. Sure both are cured, but that’s about the extent of the shared family traits. Recipes I have seen for basterma look more like other cured sausages. I had a college roommate whose parents made their own and he would bring it with him when he came back to school. Very good but nothing like pastrami. My suspicion is that the stories are all created in the mind of food writers looking for origins that aren’t there just because the name sounds similar. Then it’s get repeated on and on until it becomes fact without any more to support it. Just my opinion.

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I haven’t, but would like to someday. I think that Montreal is probably the best place to find it though.
While I’m sure I could find in in Brooklyn–I live just outside NYC–I speak “cookbook French”, and almost no Russian. :rofl: :wink:

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I had some last week at a Turkish brunch, in a Benny, and it was moister. Not as moist as pastrami, but closer to pastrami than jerky.

Etymologically, at least, pastirma is the predecessor. Maybe pastrami was drier, 200 years ago, before it became what it is now.

Or maybe the same word is used in different ways throughout the former Ottoman Empire and the Balkans.

Or maybe it is a Yiddish construction, combining Pastirma and Salami

I always assumed, or maybe believed the Press I read, the Romanian Jews took pastirma and evolved it into pastrami.

Adding this for reference because I found some of it interesting, not because I want to debate :rofl:.

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