Sunday, February 7, 2010

New York - Veni, Vite, Vici.

Nick and Pastrami King at Katz's Deli

New York - I came, I saw, I conquered. Within a small window of time, I managed to visit Carnegie Deli, Katz's Deli, Mile End, and a RUB (Real Urban BBQ). Other highlights of my trip included the Empire State building, the Natural History Museum, and the Guggenheim - all very cool things I recommend doing in NYC. It was a crazy whirlwind trip - I didn't have one boring moment while I was in the city that never sleeps. Surprisingly, the first and last parts of this blog post being in America's second city - Chicago.

Manny's Midway

Manny's Midway extension - the shining beacon of Concourse A in Midway airport. The first time I saw it was about 2 years ago with my friend Peter on the way to a wedding in Florida. I knew nothing of Manny's before seeing it, but somehow the sign - the whole feel of the place - made me feel like it was the right choice for our lunch. It was a memorable corned beef sandwich and potato pancake - so much so that I insisted that we get it on our way back to the West Coast. I was excited to have a layover at Midway, how many people say that?!? This time I thought I wouldn't have enough time to visit this satellite extension of a Chicago classic - but wouldn't you know it? My flight was delayed an hour and a half - straight Midway style!

Corned Beef on Rye

Potato Pancake

While I was sitting in the dining room, I struck up a nice conversation with a man named Edward enjoying his pastrami sandwich. I went with the corned beef this time, which was excellent, because I know Manny's is famous for their corned beef, but I was looking at Edward's pastrami sandwich excited to try their pastrami the next time around. Edward was originally from New York and told me he liked Katz's over everything and he enjoyed pastrami as often as he could. Turns out he works in LA nowadays and knows the sandwich scene pretty well. "Oh yeah Langer's I been there. Yeah, man I just love places like Manny's and Langer's" Edward confessed to me. I know the feeling.

The plane ride from Midway to LaGuardia seemed longer than the first leg of the journey - I was giddy to get to New York City. For the first night, I had planned to meet up with my buddies Nick and Chris, then we were going to the world famous Carnegie Deli. My friend, Peter, has called the Carnegie the "epitome of all that is deli" and from what I'd seen on the food channel, I knew I was in for a special pastrami sandwich.

Carnegie - Mid-Manhattan January 2010
Nick and I met up with our other friend Chris and my new friend Janinne. Nick was just as excited about the pastrami as I was. "I went here a couple weeks ago for the first time - THE BOMB!" he told me at the same time he proclaimed he didn't even need to look at the menu. Nick, Chris, and I ordered pastrami sandwiches, while Janinne got a monstrous BLT (foolish not to get the pastrami...). When it came time to choose a drink to go with our sandwiches I had everyone surprised/intrigued. "I'll have a cel-ray soda." I said. My buddy Chris asked "What's a cel-ray?" I told him about the celery flavored Dr. Brown's soda and told the waiter that we were all getting cel-rays, four of them please.

As our food was coming out I was busy talking to our neighbors about what part of the beef pastrami is. They were from Russia and when they asked why I knew so much I told them I was the Pastrami King. His response "I bow to you king" Thanks man, who knows I might have a reader or two in Moscow! Our sandwiches came after a short wait, but the soda was the first thing my friends wanted to try. "It tastes like celery" my friend Chris said making a disgusted face "I hate it."

Carnegie Pickles

Carnegie Slaw

They stack BLTs like Pastrami

Carnegie Pastrami Sandwich - The King of New York

That pastrami sandwich above is just as tasty as it is large. The Carnegie pastrami is fatty, spicy and smoky - all the flavors that make pastrami the most sensual of all meats. The bread is a bit lackluster - which I found to be a recurring theme in NYC. Truth be told, I didn't have a decent piece of rye bread the entire time I was in New York. As I was eating my sandwich, pastrami falling out the sides, Chris was reevaluating the cel-ray. "You know with the pastrami....I just don't's kinda refreshing. I think I love it." Haha! He went from hating it to loving it, but I have to agree with him - I don't drink cel-ray all the time, but with pastrami or hot dogs they're complimentary in a strange celery seed extract way. The pastrami was beyond excellent. I have to rate it up there with Langer's and the Refuge for the greatest pastrami in the USA. I left into the Manhattan night a fully satisfied man, although I did think to myself "Langer's has better bread."

Tommy LaSorda knows what's up - Carnegie Deli!

The very next night I reunited with Chris and Nick and joined another friend to the oldest deli in the United States. From my research, the first pastrami on rye was served in NYC sometime around 1885 and Katz's opened in 1888. Throughout the years Katz's has instilled itself not only as a New York institution, but also as a National Monument. From their efforts in WWII (Send a salami to your boy in the army), to the movie When Harry met Sally (I'll have what she's having), and recent Food channel specials (Man Vs Food), just about everyone has heard of Katz's deli.

Katz's Deli on a frigid January Night

1888 - Old School

Where the pastrami lives...

They still send salami to the troops at war today

I walked in and some guy handed us each a weird orange ticket, as I was approaching the bus boy whistled out part of the theme from the Good the Bad and the Ugly. A tumble weed ran through the place....high noon... I'm coming from out west - I'm talking a big game and I have the wood carving from the Mr. Pickle in SF backing me up...but this is the original - a milestone in pastrami blog history. The showdown at Houston and 2nd.

I dare to finish

Matzo ball soup

Split pea soup

Katz's Pastami sandwich

Katz's Mustard is excellent!
Lean and mean pastrami

My pastrami sandwich at Katz's was great, but not the best I've ever had. The pastrami from Katz's comes from empire national and I did a small taste test at Saul's in the East bay for the Save the Deli book signing. I thought the same of it when I tried it there - it's a flavorful cured meat but pretty lean for pastrami, I could see it being very palatable by deli non-regulars. The brine was right on and the mustard was sharp and spicy as well, I just preferred the larger, fattier Carnegie sandwich. We got waiter service, but the next time I think I want to go to the cutter themselves and ask for it juicy like Lucy and tip him well so I get a big fat Katz's pastrami sandwich. The best thing I had there was the pickle, by far the best pickle I ever had was at Katz's deli!

Showdown complete

The next excursion was to the Boreum hill neighborhood, Brooklyn, to try the Mile end deli. The Mile End has been hyped up for the simple fact they are the first deli to serve Canadian smoked meat in the United States. Smoked meat isn't pastrami, it isn't corned beef, it's something different that I've never tried so the excitement was high. I tried calling them around noon on Saturday and the phone just rang to voice mail. I was weary because of what happened in Seattle, but I went on their twitter page and saw the post "Meat will be ready in 10 minutes" at about 11:50 AM. Nick and I jumped on the subway, as we were going there in became increasingly clear that it's impossible to go North/South direction in Brooklyn on the subway - at least it's tough. It took us about 45 minutes to get there and when we showed up the place was packed, it was obvious why they didn't answer the phone - they were swamped!

The Mile End

Packed to the Glass!

Busy Owner

It was about 45 minutes wait for a table so I ordered 3 smoked meat sandwiches and an order of poutine to go.

Smoked Meat Sandwich

Avec poutine

My thoughts on the smoked meat - it was very spicy, almost too spicy - not for the faint of heart. I'm a much bigger pastrami fan as this was a far more spiced and smoked flavor. If you like brisket and corned beef more than pastrami than this one is probably not for you. If you like a deep hearty spicy flavor (almost jerky spicy) then it would be a good one to try out. The poutine was superb, I think I should have ordered two orders of the poutine - so don't skip out. We got our sandwiches around 1:30 and when we checked their status at 3 PM it read "sold out of meat today", so the best way to figure out if they're serving sandwiches is to check their twitter. Considering there was only a three hour window on the Saturday I was there, this is one hot ticket - much hotter than Nets tickets for sure!

RUB BBQ - Chelsea District

My last stop in the Empire State was a small BBQ joint that made their own pastrami. This place was picked out by a big pastrami blog fan - Ellen. We were set to "meat" up there Sunday afternoon around 1 PM to put the pastrami to the test.

Pastrami King meets Pastrami Queen

Ellen is from the Atlantic City area and writes her own reviews for and Chowhound. Many people know her as the pastrami queen. It was truly a pleasure to have lunch with another true pastrami aficionado!

I have to disagree - Pastrami is the true king - Brisket is the baron.

For lunch we ordered two reuben crushers, 1 order of coleslaw, 1 order of burnt ends, and some drinks (Ellen got home made lemonade). I had been trying to adhere to the Jewish style delis rule in New York, avoiding Russian dressing on my pastrami - opting for mustard instead. This time Ellen requested extra Russian dressing on the side and I was happy she did, as this is the true way I like my pastrami!

Small side of Burnt Ends - 4$, great deal!

Reuben Crusher

Small brine, but tasty smoky flavor

The reuben crusher was actually my 2nd favorite sandwich I had in NYC this trip. The flavor of the pastrami was a bit different, but was distinctly different from the BBQ burnt ends which had a traditional BBQ flavor. The Russian dressing and the toasted bread were both very good - I liked the rye bread OK, but nothing was like the double baked rye bread I get in LA. This is a great place for lunch, sorta reminded me of Memphis Minnie's in the Haight of SF, but I liked the reuben at RUB better and they have pastrami everyday, not just Wednesdays (it's OK, Memphis, I still love your BBQ brisket). After the lunch Ellen and I saw the Guggenheim, which I highly recommend, it's short and pleasant (unlike the Met, which is fortress size). Once again thanks for "meating" up with me and keep on commenting on the blog, Ellen!

I left New York on Monday, the 1st of February, after a fun night out till about 3 in the morning. I had a great time while I was in NYC and I would like to return, when it's warmer, so I can check out Central Park. It was just too cold to walk around there this time around! Of course, there is still 2nd Ave Deli, Sarge's Deli, David's brisket house, Ben's Best and a whole bunch of place to try in NYC with legit, quality pastrami. I could only get to a handful this time and I think I did a pretty good job on the East Coast, I wasn't finished yet either. I had a 3 and a half layover in Chicago and I figured to try to swing by the original Manny's by taking the Orange Line from Midway.

Sears Tower from Roosevelt Street bridge

Roosevelt & Michigan
The 2nd coolest thing about midway airport (1st being the Manny's extension) is the train comes straight to the airport. You don't have to take a shuttle bus, like AirBART, you just walk straight to the platform and get on. The Roosevelt stop is about 7 or 8 stops in and it took me just about 30 minutes to get there from Midway, very easy on the public transportation.

Manny's Deli - Chicago

Like I said, it didn't take me very long to get there. From the Roosevelt station I took a bus straight to Jefferson Ave - just down the block from the 1942 Chicago Deli. When I walked in I greeted the old man with the 2 pronged fork who was standing in the register. "Yeah I've seen you in a video before, I write a blog in California. I'm just happy to be here" I told him. He said yeah as he piled on my pastrami on rye bread extra high coupled with their famous potato pancake.

Pile of Pastrami - Manny's

I sat down in the empty, large dining area. There was only one other table full, 2 couples with piled high corned beef sandwiches. I looked at the clock, there was still plenty of time to enjoy my visit to Manny's.

Thinner pastrami, large fatty brine.

Manny's pastrami on rye - Chicago


I liked the pastrami at Manny's a whole lot - more thank I liked the lean Katz's pastrami. You can see from the picture it was thinner, but the edges were laced with a fatty brine. The Chicago classic Manny's up there with all the heavy hitters, even President Barack Obama has visited the corned beef palace just off Roosevelt! As I walked off into the chilly Chicago day I waved at the man behind the counter at Manny's, he was a true deli man.

Barack eats corned beef

I got back to Midway with plenty of time to spare. My flight was delayed 45 minutes - Midway style - but I was happy to read and watch my Ipod movies after the last great lunch of my vacation.

Back to the Bay Area

I came back to the Bay Area and I meant to try Handy's deli on Irving and 19th as I read somewhere on the internet they have a good pastrami sandwich. I walked in and saw Columbus meats in a vacuum pack and looked at the sandwich board - pastrami sandwich 3.99$. I just couldn't do it to myself after coming back from NYC. I walked downed to 9th street and had a burrito instead that day. The only pastrami I've had since then was just last night at the Chick n' coop and that was just to get power for writing the blog entry. The meat cutter at Chick n' Coop knows me pretty well now. He makes me a large pastrami sandwich every time I order it, great guy. Lots of people tell me "You're making me hungry." when I talk to them about pastrami. I do find it hard, nearly impossible to write about the subject matter on an empty stomach.

Quincy's - Market Street SF - Closed

I featured Quincy's market a couple of weeks back. The hole in the wall shop on Market Street that sold quality sandwiches with a surly attitude has Closed with a capital C. I honestly only had two sandwiches there because it was a further walk from Ted's Market from my work, so it kept me from revisiting the place. Apparently the rent went up in the area as I believe the fried chicken place next door closed as well. So the egotistical, blog writer question is do I leave Quincy's on my Yelp list of California pastrami sandwiches or do I remove it because it no longer serves pastrami. Comments please.

I'm visiting my dad in LA this weekend on the account of President's day. I'm not sure if I'll get to any delis while I'm down there. There are still many stones to uncover in the Southland, so I might squeeze one in, will keep you guys posted. As always thank you to everyone who read the blog and please leave comments or e-mail me at


Anonymous said...
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Ted said...

I listen to Howard Stern enough to know you've only made it when you get anonymous negative comment. It kinda makes me wonder how many people read my material, haters included.

Anonymous said...

Awesome Teddy, the Carnegie looks the bomb. Maybe next time you go you could fed ex me one back? Andre

Geoff said...

Those photos of you outside of Carnegie and Mile End = priceless.

When are you gonna take me on your next adventure?? I'm hunnnngry.

Ellen said...

I luv your response to that first
gracious commenter..
(Yes, you've definitely "made it",
(You're smart & adorable, so
naturally your travel reports are going to spurn some jealousy ....)

Those BURNT ENDS at R.U.B.
(RIGHTEOUS Urban Bbq) are an
incredible, unique taste sensation!
For fun, I tested these with a
a FORK, and sure enough, they are
FORK TENDER!! They cut like butter!

I enjoyed these brisket burnt ends
even better than any brisket I had
in the Austin, Texas area!
It reminded me of eating a good,
crusty end cut of prime rib!!

I was pleasantly surprised to see
that you rated the R.U.B. "Reuben
Crusher" sandwich as you're #2 in
NYC ! (higher than Katz's & Mile
End)....glad I picked a winner for us !

I wonder what BRAND of pastrami Manny's uses? (or could it
possibly be homemade?)

I'm already looking forward to "meating up" with you again,
Teddy !

Keri said...

Hi....thanks so much for stopping in at S365. I love this blog. You're right, the content is very much great. Appreciate it. Keri (a.k.a. Sam)

DJStan said...

Lifelong NYC'er posting here.

Katz's is the best pastrami in Manhattan right now, but you MUST ask for a fatty cut and order at the counter so you can make sure that it's got the juice by sampling it first. "Lean pastrami" is an oxymoron.

Carnegie remains solid, although off it's 50's-60's peak, and you didn't get to Sarge's - a regular contender for best (I've never liked 2nd Ave for pastrami).

RUB is a BBQ joint, so the meat is smoked (not classic pastrami); the burnt ends are good, but that's not deli food - that's BBQ. Totally different head. For local nabe delis, Mill Basin in BK and Leibman's in the BX (my local) are also very good; next time, perhaps?

Fianlly, you missed what I consider to be the best operating deli in the metro area today (and the best pastrami) - Irving's Deli, out in Livingston, NJ. It's well worth a detour. Check them out at - and if you get to NJ, Hobby's Deli (in Newark) has been an operating Jewish-style delicatessen for over 100 years (through 3 or 4 families); it still makes a quality sandwich, and an excellent kasha knish. Have it with a Cel-Ray, of course - we agree that it's the only drink to have with pastrami (although Dr.B's Cream works well, too, if your tastes run sweet).

Ellen said...

The Carnegie is still my #1 favorite, although I wish I could've seen it during that 50's/60's era that you mentioned, DJ Stan !

I'm mostly only turned on by
homemade pastrami & I'm grateful
the Carnegie makes theirs at their
commissary by the Meadowlands in Jersey..

I loved SARGE'S the 1st time I went for the pastrami...
but the last few times , it was cut way too thin, so it reminded me more of HAM...espescially with the extra light pink color !!
DARK pink pastrami is my favorite!

Sad to say that I have to
respectfully disagree with you
regarding IRVING'S DELI...

I really enjoyed my Katz's style pastrami at Irving's the first time, shortly after they
opened up !

But have you been to Irving's LATELY??? My sis & I both are
putting in a "downhill alert"...
In our own opinions, the pastrami
tastes different now, more like a
doctored up Best's brand pastrami,
instead of their own homemade

My sis even went back to Irving's
a 3rd time, cause she wanted SO
much to like it again, and prove
herself wrong...
this was a few months or so ago..

Sis was there around lunchtime on
a Sunday, and it was really creepy
as she was the only one there the
whole time! (2 other people were
there at first, but soon after)
And this was a SUNDAY !!!

To add to the creepiness, Irving's
is in a "DEAD" shopping center,
where every store is out of business!! Office Depot, closed,
It was creepy even being in that
parking lot...

Irving's signage is awful, as it
just says "Deli", on their sign,
in very small script...
I even mentioned that to the owner, Mark.

I posted a Trip Report on about a few years ago
on Irving's , after my 1st wonderful visit there....(I post as Ellen4641 on there...
complete with pics, can even google the report real easy..)

I need to get to HOBBY'S in Newark,
DJ STAN !! I've been hearing about
that place , more so recently, as
it's the last of a dying breed..
(a Jewish style deli in Newark!)

TEDDY is able to appreciate all kinds of pastrami, even more so than I am....
So , he really liked the R.U.B. pastrami....
I tend to lean towards the Jewish style pastrami...

Hey, TEDDY, Pastrami King, where did you go????
We need you back on here to respond to DJ Stan, and the Pastrami Queen, Me !!

Ted said...

I'm right here, Ellen. Just came back from So-Cal. I would like to visit Jersey and get to some of the Delis out there for sure. Next time I go to NYC I want to do Sarge's and Stage Deli although I think 2nd Ave will probably slip in there too.

DJ Stan I agree Lean Pastrami is an oxymoron - but so many people are trying to take the fat out of's amazing. Bren't Deli in Northridge had their black pastrami which was very thing and lean for pastrami. The waitress even told me "if you want us to cut your pastrami leaner we can EVEN do that." wow!

Irving's - I don't know too much about it but I never judge a place on a sign. I've been fooled by crappy signage and fooled by excellent signage before - you have to go in and see what's doin'.

Haven't found out what type of Pastrami Manny's uses, but I might just call and ask - because I couldn't find out online in the 15 minutes I put into internet searching.
I'm still lagging for NYC with yelp reviews, chowhound, roadfood and generally getting my information out there on public spaces. Expect that to change soon as I get my classes straight and in order (which is taking alot of my time, right now. the new semester is demanding.)

I hope to have a new blog post by Thursday or Friday expect it coming your way! Thanks for commenting, it takes me a day or two to respond, so hang in there guys!

Ellen said...

Looking forward to your next blog
post, Teddy ....

Don't mind me, as I must be
suffering from cabin fever, with
this cold weather back east !

Regarding signage, I don't like to
judge a place by their signage
either..........but something just
seems to be a little "off" with
that Irving's lately...
(& I believe they could be so much
more , if they wanted to...)
...not a bustling place , the last
few times...

Ellen said...

P.S. Regarding the noticable lack
of business of Irving's Deli...
(WTF? Only 3 people there during
lunchtime on a Sunday?)

As my sis says, "If a place is GOOD, people will find it" ...
(good or lousy signage, etc)
Yet, they are nearly empty on a
nice fall Sunday..

Even though I don't personally judge places by their signs, it can
be a deterrent to passersby...
(an ugly wornout sign on the marquee that just says "Deli"...
not very luring to "drop-in's, IMO)

The signage at the actual restaurant is nice enough, but the
place is set so far back in that
lonely shopping center, that it's
very hard to see...

Here's a link to my report on for Irving's Deli,
during my first visit in 2008...
shortly after they opened up..

And here is a great link on IRVING'S from the
SAVE THE DELI Facebook website..
(David Sax wrote the wonderful book
called "Save the Deli" !)
....Irving's is perfect FODDER for
his mission to save delis!!

I would LUV to join me at HAROLD'S
DELI in Edison, NJ next time you
are back in NYC, TEDDY...!!
You can take a a bus from the
Port Authority to the Edison area,
or a train from Penn Station to the
Metropark Station in Edison..
& I will pick you up for your
Harold's Deli adventure..
(including their famous "pickle bar")

Here is a link to one of my
(complete with lots of juicy pics!)

I know what you mean about being
backed up on your Yelp, Chowhound,
(etc!!) reports! I'm very backed
up, myself...
and of course, you are WAY busier
than I am, since you go to SCHOOL
AND you WORK !

I seem to fly somewhere every few
months or so (you, too!?!), plus
bus/train trips to NYC, Philly, etc
inbetween... (love getting away, for my pastrami and beef rib adventures!)

I doubt I'll have much pastrami to
report on from my next trip to Vegas on Sunday, unless I try the
CARNEGIE in the Mirage Casino...
(won't expect it to be as good as
the original location, though...)

Keep ROCKING, Teddy !!
And keep doing your blog at your
own pace...don't succumb to the
overly bubbliness of some of your fans !!!

Mike Booty said...

I liked the Katz meat better than the Carnegie's. The Katz meat seemed more juicier and fatter. I think you are right next time you should stand in line. I actually told my cutter to hook me up and he did. Peace