Tuesday, November 10, 2009
P.S. I Love You
Pastrami in Palm Springs, CA? You betcha! Palm Springs was home to many Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, and Lucille Ball. I lived in the Coachella Valley from 1992 until 2002, and I visited frequently around the time Beverly Hills 90210 was in town . When I first moved to the desert it was smaller, Sonny Bono was the mayor, and there were many consignment stores and antique shops with stucco facades dotting Highway 111 from Palm Springs to Palm Desert.
My favorite deli in Palm Springs when I was growing up was Nate's. Sadly, like so many other old desert institutions, it closed. I can only find vague references to it online, like the change of ownership in 1999 - which I'm guessing led to its closure. I was upset when I drove by the old ruins of the Palm Desert Motor Lodge - it used to have cool cars old cars displayed out front with a glowing red sign. The desert scene with the River, Coachella Fest and many casinos is more a mix O.C./Las Vegas than Old Hollywood resort.
Sherman's is the oldest deli in town - founded in 1953. I remember going to this place many times before, but never for a pastrami sandwich. One thing that is very cool about Sherman's is the large patio, where you can enjoy your pastrami in the nice, warm weather of Palm Springs, the only place I can think of where you can eat pastrami outdoors in the bay is the Refuge, so in this regard Sherman's is a very cool location!
When I came to Sherman's, just at sunset, it was buzzing with an outside crowd, while fewer patrons sat outside. As I walked in, the man up front shouted to the people ahead "Ladies, step right up, we have a wonderful place right on the patio, just for you!". His schmoozing along with the deli smell of cured meats made me feel right at home. I ended up chatting with a couple of the managers for a minute - Jimmy was very knowledgeable about his meat and talked about how he once could only get pastrami made from the brisket cut instead of the navel cut, but now he got good pastrami directly from NYC. "You'll like our pastrami - trust me!"
I wish I could have stayed longer to eat my sandwich there and talk some more about my blog with them, but I wanted to try the new spot in town - Manhattan in the Desert. Manhattan is hard to find unless you know where it is on Hwy 111 just before Cathedral City. The entrance is very dark and when entering I felt more like I was at a Marie Callendar's than a deli. The bakery display was impressive, but I didn't get to talk to any cool managers, just some high school students who told me three brothers from New York opened up the place a couple of years back.
I got both pastrami sandwiches to go, so I could take them to a neutral location to determine which one was more pastramitastic in Palm Springs. Both sandwiches were excellent specimens on rye with mustard served with a side dish of choice, but in the end there was a clear winner.
Above is the Sherman's pastrami. It smelled delicious, but it had a strange color to it.
Now here is the pastrami from Manhattan in the Desert. It was a better, more familiar color...tasted fresh and delightful...clearly both better by taste and by looks. It really pains me to write this, because I liked the vibe so much more at Sherman's. If you were to eat a lunch in downtown Palm Springs I would highly recommend Sherman's as it's at the excellent location of Palm Canyon and Thaquitz, but take a pastrami to go from Manhattan for a real treat.
Before I got on the plane to PS, I made it to Miller's at the request of my friend who needed chicken soup to battle his cold. He ordered a pastrami sandwich before me and I ordered after him - a 2-way combo brisket and pastrami on rye with Russian dressing and tomatoes, to which my friend replied "You can do that?" After the server left he confessed he thought about changing his order after hearing my extravagant request. The sandwich, pictured above, was so large it looked like it could attack! The Miller's pastrami has an excellent brine and their rye bread is soft with a nice, chewy crust - it's a standout sandwich in SF. If you're craving pastrami/deli in the Bay and you haven't tried Miller's yet, you're really missing out!
I have some more posts coming up in the next few weeks. I hope to meet the owner of the Refuge in San Carlos, CA this coming Saturday, then the next following week I'm traveling to Seattle. I've looked into pastrami in the Emerald City and it look's like I've got plenty to explore. Please feel free to e-mail me at Pastramiking@gmail.com and check out my yelp page pastramiking.yelp.com.