Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Streetcar Named Pastrami: Cochon Butcher, Central Grocery, Evelyn's Place

Hello pastrami lovers! I spent my 27th birthday weekend in New Orleans, which is a very charming city. I made it to a few pastrami spots as well as a muffuletta sandwich from Central Grocery.

The muffuletta sandwich is a large, Italian sandwich said to have originated at this small deli by Jackson Square in New Orleans. I just happened to be walking by here on the only day they were open during my trip. Hey - they must call it Central Grocery for a reason, it's right in the middle of the French Quarter across from Cafe Du Monde (the beignet and coffee place).

The store itself is just like every other Italian deli you've been to. There are pastas, spices, fresh tomato sauce and all other specialty items synonymous with a place kinda like Genova's in Oakland or Guerra's in SF. I ordered one muffuletta to split with my dad from this counter. I noticed on the side of him there were half assembled muffulettas with the meat and cheese on the bread without the signature Olive spread. When you order he goes over and finishes the sandwich off with the famous spread and hands it to you. There is a small dining are towards the back, but honestly I wanted to eat outside in the nice, warm weather so we went to Jackson Square.

Jackson square is an interesting and significant place for many reasons. Andrew Jackson, our 9th president and face of the twenty dollar bill, was credited with saving New Orleans from the British during the War of 1812 and the city dedicated the square to him. During the day, it's a perfect place to bring a sandwich. I found a place on a bench and unwrapped the sandwich.

The muffuletta is a very tasty sandwich. The bread is super soft - a sesame roll. The Italian ham and mortadella are complimented well by the cheese and oil. The olive spread wasn't too overpowering and actually made the sandwich, in my opinion. It isn't a muffuletta without the proper olive spread. As I was sitting there with my dad another fellow from Seattle came along and ate a half-one next to us and some other ladies from Memphis and Brooklyn came with a sandwich as well. It seems this would be the muffuletta bench. I'd wager that at least a few thousand muffulettas have been eaten on that bench and everyone from everywhere seems to pass through Jackson Square.

Photo Credit -  Nicollette "Lawdy Lawdy Miss Clawdy" H. of Yelp!

At night Jackson square is an eerie place, with a much different energy than the day. I took a ghost tour while in New Orleans and I learned they used to hang people here. Many people lost their lives in the park and some people say spirits are still there. They lock the gates so drunk people don't sleep in there - but what's odd is a bunch of feral cats come out and roam the park and stare at people. They literally people watch. You will not see the cats at day, ever and they survived the hurricane. Also at night, the whole park is encircled with palm readers, fortune tellers, and mystics trying to sell you on a reading. Behind the square is one of the original churches in New Orleans and Pirate Alley where Faulkner set up shop in town and sipped on absinthe. The place has it's own energy - go at both night and day for the full experience.

The next place I went was kinda meh, but is very worth talking about. Evelyn's Place is located on Chartes street about a block away from Canal Street (The Market street of NO, essentially). The old guy sits on the outside and talks people up as they come by promising hot sandwiches and cold brew. He had pastrami, corned beef and brisket - so I was intrigued.

I ordered the corned beef because he was out of pastrami. It was served on a french roll, which I will forgive if it's good bread - but it was just ordinary. The corned beef was warm and that's about all I can say past that.  Not an overly salty flavor, but just not as flavorful as many corned beefs I have tried. I'd rather have Chick n' Coop corned beef, which is a hof-brau in Daly City not known for their corned beef. The gentleman who owned the restaurant, Frank, was a character though. I told him I was the pastrami king from San Francisco and he told me to move to NYC. That's all good and well, but I can get waygu pastrami here in SF. Then he proceeded to tell me that Evelyn's place was for workers, not necessarily the employed. He said to me "Look at that guy." I looked over to a guy dressed up like he worked in a business office "That guy is employed, but isn't a worker - big difference." Wow!!! OK. My dad hated his gumbo. Moving on...

Cochon Butcher or simply Butcher is my favorite restaurant in New Orleans and perhaps one of my favorite lunch spots in the country. It's essentially smoked meat heaven. They their own meat and Butcher is a lunch spot only while the restaurant next door that owns it and shares it's kitchen serves brunch, lunch, dinner. I'd like to go to Cochon itself another time, but Butcher was a real treat!

They had so many great things on the menu and in the deli counter to oogle at. They had whole hogs for sale if you wanted along with sausages, rib eyes, salamis.

 Duck Pastrami Sliders

Pastrami Sandwich

muenster was not like turkey pastrami as it was richer and noticeably smoky without a coriander spice layer on the outside that is normally synonymous with bird pastrami. It was very tasty, excellent. My regular pastrami sandwich was the best thing of the whole meal though. The pastrami here is some of the best I had because it's smoked in house by a guy that learned from his father how to smoke meat. He obviously was taught well and knows what he's doing because it had a certain smoky quality that was unparalleled to other pastrami I have had...not as sweet, but more smoky than others. I told the guy I liked it better than Carnegie Deli's pastrami and he was touched by that compliment. New York has some great pastrami, but this is just as good if not better than any pastrami in the United States. I say so, and I've tried it coast to coast - winner of the best pastrami in New Orleans. Who dat!? I made sure to grab a shirt from the friendly staff and I plan on sporting it with pride.

Please leave a comment. I really enjoy getting comments and it lets me know people are reading. My E-mail is and feel free to e-mail me with questions, suggestions, and offers. @Pastramiking on twitter and please click "like" on my Facebook fan page which is linked at the top of the page. Thank you for reading and supporting the Pastrami Blog - the only independently written blog dedicated to Deli food in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Johnny's - Antioch, California & Bite Me Sandwiches, SF

Hey there pastrami fans! I hope you enjoyed my post on the Waygu/Kobe beef pastrami as much I enjoyed eating it. I have some news and a few deli sandwich reviews that I'd like to share with you for this mid-September post.

My first bit of news - I'm going to be in New Orleans this weekend to celebrate my birthday. I plan to try some pastrami for the blog, but the big, well known sandwich in New Orleans is the Muffuletta which is an Italian style sandwich with olive spread on a round roll (and of course the po-boy). It's normally a sandwich meant to be shared, so I hope my dad will want some or I'll just order a half-muffuletta. I'm also planning on just relaxing and having a sazerac on Canal street. If you have any suggestions for me to enjoy my vacation in New Orleans, feel free to comment on the blog or e-mail me at

This past week I was able to attend the Giants vs Dodgers game. Giants/Dodgers is a huge rivalry and I showed up in my Dodger gear, which is making yourself a target for smack talk. The only problem for Giant's fans - it's hard to hate on a guy with pastrami. My dad flew up from LA that day to go to the game with me and he brought a gift package from Langer's. We watched the game at AT&T park in SF while eating pastrami sandwiches from Langer's in LA. The guy sitting behind me asked "Hey, where did you get that sandwich?" and I responded "L.A." and he got really interested. "Wow you brought pastrami all the way from L.A.? You must be a pastrami fan." I smiled and gave him my card as well as a small piece of Langer's pastrami, then went on to discuss the fine establishments in SF that carry good pastrami. The Dodgers winning that night was cool, but the highlight of the evening was eating the pastrami sandwich at the game inside the ballpark and having people intrigued by my blog. Awesome!

My first sandwich review is from a place in San Francisco named Bite Me Sandwiches on South Van Ness at 17th street. They had an interesting menu with lots of sandwiches featuring pastrami/corned beef, so I was intrigued to check it out. It's a small sandwich shop operated by two guys who are super friendly and like to make a good sandwich. I ordered a pastrami Reuben and the guy offered it on rye bread because he wanted to make it traditional. I always appreciate that - you can't mess with a classic.

 Bite-Me Sandwiches Pastrami Reuben

The pastrami itself was OK, pretty good, but not great. I did like the toasted rye bread, the Russian dressing, and the sauerkraut. The flavor of the classic Reuben was all there, it just wasn't a Carnegie Deli Reuben, but I didn't pay near that price either. The advantages of this place - it has great prices for a big sandwich and has a relatively small line at lunch time compared to Ike's, Deli Board, or Ted's. I'm always down for a new sandwich shop by my work and I will look forward to trying out all their sandwiches till I decide what I really like there.

For my second review - I went all the way to Antioch, California which is about half way between San Francisco and Sacramento. Its nickname is the "Gateway to the Delta", referring to the San Joaquin River Delta which is actually where most of Southern California gets it water from. I had to go out there to measure a building for my job, which was abandoned except for the raccoons that lived on the top floor in the rafters. For lunch, I found a place on yelp called Johnny's Market.

 Pastrami on soft roll - Large and in charge

When we were driving to Johnny's, a few blocks before the shop a sign was hammered into the ground advertising "Beef Brisket" this way. I knew I was in for a treat. This sandwich shop has been here for years and this is the place the locals go for their sandwiches. I ordered a big pastrami on a soft roll and sat down at the dining table next to the TV to talk with the other patrons. They told me they had been coming here for years and this was the best sandwich in town - I have to agree that it's a great value and they have great hot meats like brisket, pastrami, and hot links. It reminded me of Ted's Deli in the city, but this was in Antioch - which isn't necessarily known for it's culinary prowess. In fact, they even use the same pastrami as Ted's Market which is Evergood pastrami. I think that it's a four star out of five on the pastrami spectrum. Evergood is a San Francisco based company and their pastrami has a great flavor, but it's a little thin and a bit salty. Overall a very good pastrami, just not grass fed, organically grown, Waygu beef (I'm getting spoiled now). No, Johnny's isn't a petit cafe - it's an old school sandwich shop with friendly owners and a cool room for you to enjoy your sandwich before going back to your work day. If you're ever in Antioch, I high recommend coming in here and talking with the owners and locals.

My last bit of news is a shout out to Rene C. on yelp and his review of the Refuge that reminds me of Langer's and the time my Grandpa told me only a fool would order the cheeseburger. When you go to a place that's known for pastrami a burger is normally a bad call. But to be fair, Refuge has some great burgers, although I'm going to get the pastrami each and every time. Hmm, maybe a pastrami burger? Thank you Rene C. for your wonderful review of the Refuge and I hope you're a pastrami convert for life now!

I hope you enjoyed the Mid-September post and I plan on having another one once I get back from New Orleans. Traffic on the website has been down this quarter, which has been probably due to my lack of posts. I have a renewed passion for the blog and I plan on posting more frequently than once per month now. Keep coming back - I love getting your comments and suggestions for pastrami places. for email, @Pastramiking on twitter, and please join my Facebook fan page - otherwise i'm posting it up on your wall and you have to deal with it :-)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Viognier Restaurant/Draeger’s Markets American Kobe/Waygu Pastrami, Wise Son's Rye

Happy September. This is my favorite month because the weather is still nice, football is starting, and my birthday is on the 19th. The Pastrami Blog celebrated it's 2nd anniversary on August 28th. It's amazing how far this blog has come. Just in the past two years I've tried pastrami from NYC, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, and all over the Bay Area. Also, we've seen great things happen in our backyard as new pastrami/corned beef spots have popped up over the city like Wise Sons & Deli Board. There are still many places to try in San Francisco and other areas of the Bay and I look forward to sampling them for another year to come. Feel free to send suggestions although a small list of places I'd like to try soon include - Giordano Bros on Mission, Orson Cafe, and Spruce Cafe. I'm always happy to get more suggestions from readers and fans - send e-mails to

With Chef Preston

 Lovely Fluffy Rolls

 Wrapped Pastrami and Mustard

This post we have something extraordinary - a pastrami made from Kobe/Waygu beef. This product is going to be available soon at Draeger's Market / Viognier Restaurant in San Mateo (Viognier is located above Draeger's market). Chef Preston Dishman makes this pastrami and is a pastrami blog fan - here is another bio on Preston. He sent me a small gift package with pastrami, homemade rolls, homemade mustard, a napkin and a sweet note letting me know about the sugar cure and the blend of spices they used for the rub for the large, smoky outside of the pastrami as well as instructions for the perfect pastrami sandwich.

 Holy Marbleized! 

Upon opening the package I was very impressed with the way they thought of everything for me to have a perfect lunch - Thanks Preston and Viognier for the lovely care package and chance to try this pastrami.

The pastrami itself got inspection right away. The first thing I noticed with the very marbleized pastrami - this is of course Kobe/Waygu which is known for it's increased flavor and fat content. That was very evident from just looking at the meat - there were many layers of fat within the meat. The large black outside smelled excellent and the sugar cure was also evident in it's aroma when first smelling the pastrami. The flavor cold and hot is tremendous.

Sliced Pastrami - Ready for Warming...or Not.

It's almost a whole different world trying it cold versus hot and both are pleasurable in a different way. When tried cold the fat sort of melts in your mouth like butter but the flavor on the outside almost tastes more like a jerky rub - which isn't bad, just a bit more of a jerky flavor to the rub than normal (spicy). It's honestly so good this way that my roommate has caught me eating cold slices late at night for dessert. He makes fun, but even he likes it when it's cold. When heated up the sugar cure really comes out and it's very sweet, but the peppery outside offsets it in a wondrous way. I would say it's most similar to the Wise Son's pastrami with the cure - much different than Sy Ginsberg which is served at Miller's because of the sweeter cures. Also, like Wise Son's, this was not packaged and was cured within miles of where it was given to me (not stored, refrigerated, and shipped over), which means it's very fresh tasting. When I tried the sandwich I was very impressed with the roll - it was soft and a perfect picnic type of roll for a lunch. I also thought to myself that I'd like to try it on rye bread and since they gave me about a pound (maybe more, not sure) I would have plenty of meat to try a couple of sandwiches on different mediums. I always say a double baked rye bread is the best way to experience a pastrami and I think Wise Son's has the best rye in town.

The Perfect Pastrami Lunch at work

When I went to Wise Son's I got a pastrami and tried to order a rye bread, but they were out. The guy up front tried to sell me a challah roll, but I explained to him it was for something special and that I thought they had the best rye bread around. He asked "Did you read that or somewhere, best rye bread?" No! That's what I think and I have tried many rye breads. They have the double baked caraway seeded rye bread with the chewy outer crust which is essential to a classic Jewish deli sandwich. When I was waiting for my pastrami I explained to Leo (co-owner of Wise Sons) that I had some special Waygu/Kobe beef pastrami at home and that I wanted to try it on his rye bread because I thought it was the best. He found a few slices for me. Thanks Leo!
Double Baked Rye Bread with Kobe Pastrami - Only for the King!

That sandwich description - Kobe beef pastrami on the double baked caraway seeded Jewish rye bread with homemade cheese and homemade mustard, what a mouthful just describing this sandwich only fit for a king! I think that sandwich was good either way though - with the soft roll or the rye bread. One is more for a bright sunny day outside in the park (the roll) and the other is better for and indoor Sunday lunch. Why does the scenery matter? I'm not sure, but I think it does more than the chewy crust versus the super softness of the fresh roll. What do you think? Rye bread or not? It's a hot topic in the pastrami community -  leave a comment about it if you have an opinion. I'm glad to say I got to experience multiple sandwiches of each! Overall I would say this is some of the best pastrami in the Bay Area, competing with The Refuge and NimanWaygu/Kobe beef which is praised as some of the most tasty beef - normally reserved for steaks - they made pastrami out of it and the flavor is amazing! The time and care are also advantages as this was prepared by a great chef who knew what flavors he was trying to obtain - kudos to Chef Preston for your vision - the man the man that made the sugar cure Kobe beef pastrami should be hailed by all pastrami blog fans as a royal
culinary genius!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Return to Ike's Sandwiches, Chick N' Coop Closes, Deli Board Moving

Happy August my pastrami fans! I have some good news and some bad news for you, as well as a pastrami sandwich review.

My first bit of news is a bit sad. The Chick-N-Coop on Taraval has officially flown the coop. There are still the two locations in Daly City and the Outer Mission...but this is the first Chick-N-Coop that I knew, partially because my first apartment was down the block. This was way before the pastrami blog, but I still remember getting the corned beef sandwich on the regular from the Coop. It was definitely a bit of a dive and normally you'd end up eating your dinner next to an elderly couple or a bunch of cops who spillover from the Parkside Police Station. When I first went there, there was this girl working behind the counter that was gorgeous and it kept me coming back. I used to talk to her and see her at campus on SFSU and then one day I went in there and she was gone. Her father was always there though. He was the owner and he had big, bushy eyebrows and an imposing presence...he wasn't mean...he just emanated a "don't mess with me" attitude. Sadly this is the guy that closed the shop as he no longer wanted to keep it open. He retired. That's that. Taraval will never be the same.

The Deli Board has shut its doors for right now until - but don't fret, it's not for long. The Board will be back in its new spot on Folsom Street, right around the corner from where their smaller location was for over a year. It's sad I can't get the sandwiches for lunch today, but I know Adam (the owner of Deli Board) is working extra hard in preparing his new spot for use to enjoy even more than we enjoyed the original location. He said they'll be open hopefully in early September. It's going to be tough to wait it out.

The sandwich pictured above is from Ike's Place, the world famous sandwich shop on in the Castro, SF. Ike's is one of the most reviewed (overwhelmingly positive) on yelp and recently won the ESPN Fanwich competition with their sandwich named the "Matt Cain". The pastrami blog was pulling for the Carmelo sandwich from Carnegie Deli when I first saw the competition...but after trying my "Paul's Reuben" at Ike's sandwiches I finally understand why so many people loves their sandwiches. #1 reason = They're delicious.

I pulled a small piece of the pastrami out of the sandwich to give it a try by itself, without the dirty sauce, veggies and cheese and was pleasantly surprised by the taste. I think I said something like "Oh that's very good". It was sweeter than I expected, but not overly so and had a nice fat content that marbleized the pastrami just a bit to add more flavor. The bread was very fresh and a lovely dutch crunch and the fixings are quite unique to Ike's with the dirty sauce (kinda like Italian dressing).

I called this a return, because the first time I went to Ike's it was way crowded and I was unable to get a sandwich before it was soggy. The only reason I would mention this is because they have made it so much better. The owner, Ike, is a really friendly dude who cares about his customer base and understood he was getting too well known to quell the demand for his might sandwiches - so he got a new, larger spot and hired more people. The result is a smaller wait time and a never soggy sandwich. Kudos to Ike for being great owner. I have yet to meet him, but I talked with him via text/e-mail and told him how great his sandwich was and how awesome his staff was to me when I came in. Give it a try if you haven't - it's a unique SF experience.

My next post will likely be about an article that is going to be on on pastrami. I was interviewed by a food critic about the status of Pastrami in San Francisco. Hopefully his story is still on and I will have something to post for you about it. I also have a sandwich shop in Antioch, California that I will be reviewing. Drop me a line at Twitter = @pastramiking. Please like my Facebook fan page at the top of the website. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bloomberg says "Yelp!" , The Deli Summit

 Pastrami Burger from Miller's East Coast Deli

The first days of Summer are here! The sun is shining and you should have had at least one pastrami sandwich in the past few weeks...and if you haven't - c'mon now!!! Get your lunch crew ready and hit up your deli for your favorite pastrami any way you like it. I won't hate on you if you like Boar's head with jalapenos on a soft-roll - just enjoy the sunshine with a sandwich as a favor to me and to yourself.

Since my last post I have been quoted in two major online publications - we're going to cover the news article I was quoted in entitled "Yelp's Online Reviewing Mafia" as well as the editorial done by SF Gate. My quotes were both in Bloomberg News and SF Gate (San Francisco Chronicle) and the yelp drama that comes with any story involving yelp was soon to follow. First I'd like to give a shout out to my boys as Wise Son's Deli. They got a big break and they were featured in a NY Times article - here. Also check out Wise Son's web page for breakfast, lunch specials here.

 Deli Summit icon - Awesome!

The owners of Wise Sons, Leo and Evan, are already so well respected in the deli community that Evan was asked to speak on the panel at the Deli Summit - which happened on last month, mid-May at the JCC in Berkeley and also featured some of the owners from Mile End Deli in Brooklyn, Kenny and Zukes in Portland, Oregon and our very own East Bay delight - Saul's Deli in Berkeley (I think they organized the event). That is a pretty heavy panel of deli experts! Check out the video of the first ten minuted of the discussion on Saul's deli web blog which I already linked above. I really enjoyed reading this particular article written about the Deli Summit from the Zester Daily. The writer has some pretty choice quotes from from Evan that I enjoyed reading his anecdotes about "Salvador Deli".

I have to really hand it to Leo and Evan for creating a buzz for their deli. It's only open one day a week - but they seem to have taken the SF pastrami scene by storm and I have to say they have the best rye bread in San Francisco. The big news coming from Wise Sons this week is they have changed their location - they will no longer be at Valencia street and Duboce - but rather 10 blocks down the Street on Valenica at 24th Street at 1270 Valenica street (inside of Heart Wine Bar). Same time, new place.Have you tried it yet? If not - make it a summer mission to get down there on a sunny Saturday.

David Sax - Sandwich Physician

I would like to thank my buddy David Sax from Save the Deli one more time for coming to the Bay Area, writing this article on Yelp, and quoting me in the article. You're the man, David

David was contracted to write an article for Bloomberg Businessweek on yelp - which he entitled "Yelp's Online Reviewing Mafia". Take a look at the link - but the part you really want to read is on the second page -

For others, the rewards are personal. San Francisco architect and amateur pickled meats expert Theodore Ordon-Yaussi, 26, was tapped in 2010 after attending the "Elite Prom" as a plus-one. "My reviews are definitely read more now," says Ordon-Yaussi, who writes under the nom de plume The King of Pastrami. "I get more random messages from people I don't know. I have 20 new fans who follow my reviews." That can be invigorating.
Amateur pickled meat expert - that's Hot! SF Chronicle went on to publish a similar article in the newspaper as well as online at - read it here.

Reaction to the Article

I received mostly positive attention from people congratulating me on the quote. However, the two articles have garnered some criticism from the Yelp community. If you check the web boards, comments below each article - it's absolute anarchy - with people getting into verbal fisticuffs. LA, SF, and NYC all had separate threads discussing the validity and value of the article. Some think the article was spot on and there seems to be a backlash against the Yelp Elites on the web boards as a few people see them as people who would sell their souls for some free wine and food. Other voiced that non-elites are really the best writers on the website and contribute better written reviews. I've met some really cool people on Yelp and for the most part, I think people are generally cool, fun people when you meet them in real life. There are many faceless trolls which won't show up to events (I could be better about attending events to be honest) and there are even more accounts that have no value what-so-ever with 3 reviews complaining about waiter service. This is getting people to start to worry about Yelp combined with the fact they've been repeatedly accused of offering to take down bad reviews of businesses for money. I'm going to keep on doing my thing on there and I think I'll be happier for it. I like reading the reviews, I love going to the Yelp softball games, and I enjoy the talk threads too much. Damn the haters - because I was quoted in two major online publications because of my Yelp status and that sits very well with me.

Please check out my yelp page at E-mail is and you can leave me a message - I love hearing from people all over the country. @Pastramiking on twitter and I have a Facebook fan page that you can "like" as well. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Guerra Quality Meats, Attman's Reuben Dip

Happy May, pastrami fans! I have an excellent installment for you this month. I tried and perfected a deli recipe from the book America's Great Deli: Recipes and Traditions from Coast to Coast and also visited an Italian Deli - Guerra Quality Meats on Taraval Street in San Francisco. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I did eating the good food.

 Reuben Dip @ Yelp Softball Game

This is the lovely Reuben dip I made for two parties. The recipe was taken from an old-school Baltimore deli named Attman's. They're known for their succulent corned beef. The hardest thing about this recipe was finding the large round 12" rye bread.

Here is the recipe from the book.

 2 pounds corned beef, chopped
1 pound shredded Swiss cheese
½ cup ketchup
4 tablespoons mustard
½ cup chopped yellow onions
½ cup sweet pickle relish
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 12-inch round Russian rye bread, for serving
1 loaf rye bread, cubed for serving

Place the beef, Swiss cheese, ketchup, mustard, onions, relish, cream cheese, and sour cream in a large bowl and stir to combine well. Cut the top off of a round Russian rye bread. Scoop out the inside of bread. Add dip to hollowed-out bread and serve with the cubed rye bread. Refrigerate until it is served.

I made a few changes to the recipe that I would like to suggest to you. I used an unspecified amount of mustard in my Reuben dip (seasoned to taste), because when I tasted it the first time around I just thought it needed more of a kick...could be just me. Also, get a good cream cheese - the first time I used Lucerne from Safeway because it was on sale - not as good as the Russian Viola cream cheese I picked up in the Russian Supermarket out on Geary Ave. That is also where I found the Russian Rye bread - in the Richmond District, the area known as "Little Russia" which runs on Geary between 14th and 26th Avenue. The specific shop I found the Rye bread was called Gastronome. All the other shops in the neighborhood had rye bread, but the problem was finding it unsliced.  Walked right in the door at Gastronome and I saw it! A large, round, unsliced Russian Rye loaf. Eureka! The lady rang me up at the counter and I paid cash and at the end of the transaction she asked in an accent "Would you like me to slice your bread?" - NO!!!!! If anyone else knows another place to get an unsliced large round rye in SF - please leave a comment. My last suggestion -  get corn chips or bagel chips for dipping. They suggest a loaf of rye bread cubed up - but then you need toothpicks and honestly they tasted better with corn person suggested bagel chips and I thought that was a good idea, but I have yet to try it.

The first party I took this dip to was a birthday party for my good friends Heather and Jessica - it was bad movie night and "Snakes on a Plane" was the winner of the voting process. When I brought in the dip, they hadn't quite gotten the other appetizers out. When I put the Reuben dip down people pretty much mob attacked it. The second time I made it - I knew what I as doing a little better and I think it came out slightly better than the first. That was the one I brought to the Softball game. People loved it there as much as they did the other party - all the girls were exclaiming how much they loved my ""creamy meat".....well at least one girl said that.

Guerra Quality Meats is a place where salami proudly hangs from the drying rack - a true Italian deli. A new friend - Jon B. suggested this place to me. I was happy to "meat" him on a Sunday afternoon....being in the Sunset District - it was nice and foggy.

On walking in - you see their awesome display counter which has loads of goodies  either to cook or just eat right there. Deviled Eggs? Don't mind if I do.

They also had an awesome butcher shop in the counter. This place has way better cuts of meat compared to the Safeway a few blocks away. I saw their Marin Sun Grass farms - that's local, organic beef - hard to beat. I don't know if that's where all their meat comes from (probably not) but they promise on their website that the beef comes from "from quality local providers."

I came in with the crown on because Jon wanted to see it - the owner thought it was pretty ridiculous and busted my chops a little bit. Sometimes you have to make a scene if you want to get noticed. I don't think the workers will forget me and a couple of them took my pastrami blog card - hopefully they're reading this. Jon also ordered a sandwich and we took them to the hood of my car to discuss life and playoff basketball. Lakers. Ugh.

I ended up ordering a pastrami on Dutch Crunch with Swiss cheese, mustard, tomatoes and a bit of lettuce. That's not a traditional Jewish pastrami (which are my favorite), but this Italian style pastrami was my favorite Italian Deli pastrami I've had. It was lighter, more delicate and not as salty...but still peppery on the outside. You can tell it's fairly lean and thin sliced - which is nice when you want it that way. I also got a side of macaroni salad - which was awesome. It has more vinegar and oil mixed in it and less mayonnaise but I think there was still a little bit of mayo in there to discern it from a regular pasta salad.

If you're ever on the L-line traveling from West Portal to Taraval you'll see Guerra as you turn onto Taraval Street - Get off the train and get a sandwich if it's a nice afternoon. I'll probably go back soon to try another sandwich from their menu - perhaps a prosciutto or coppa. Thanks Jon for meeting me there and pointing out a new spot to check out!

Please leave a comment if you liked this post or if you tried out the recipe. I would love to hear from you! , @Pastramiking on twitter, and my yelp address is Enjoy the Spring sunshine until next time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lunch with David Sax, Greenblatts's, Deli Board/Wise Son's: Another Blogger's Take

Happy April! The weather has changed, the sun is out....What better time to enjoy a pastrami sandwich then outside in the California sun. This Sunday I'm going to be at the Yelp Softball Game at Balboa Park and I'm thinking about making one of the dishes that's in the book "America's Great Delis: Recipes from Coast to Coast" by Sheryll Bellman - specifically the Corned Beef Reuben dip that was from a Baltimore Deli. I'll take pictures - but if you'd like to come to the softball game - it's an open invitation to anyone who would like to come (5$ for refreshments I believe).

There is some epic deli experience in this photo above. David Sax, author of the best-selling book "Save the Deli", is on the left with Robby Morgenstein, Owner of Miller's East Coast in the middle. David Sax is deli royalty, but he also writes for various other publications...which is why he was in SF. Sax was writing an article on Yelp and being Yelp Elite and I was obliged to give him some quotes about what being Yelp Elite entails for me. He was interested on how things have changed since I've become Yelp Elite and whether non-elite users talked to me more or if restaurant owners themselves talked to me more because they know of my Elite status. I told him I thought some owners cared more about what I write now and that I get random owners shooting me a message sometimes. Robby Morgenstein offered his opinion on yelp a few minutes later. He was upset about how frugal some of the reviews can be and said "Boy, all I have to do is look at someone wrong and they will give me a 1 star review. Ridiculous." Sitting at the table and listening to David Sax and Robby Morgenstein talk about delis and yelp was a real treat for me - I mean they are two people I respect greatly in the deli community and they're talking about the social/review network I am on daily - pretty special. For the record, I had a grilled NY pastrami as usual and David Sax had a brisket sandwich on a Kaiser roll. At the end of the meal David said to Robby "You know what I want from you next time I'm here?" Robby looked at him with excitement and David replied "I want some onion rings on my sandwich next time - right on top of the brisket." Robby asked "Thin or thick?" to which David said "It's your restaurant." Priceless.

The sandwich above is from Greenblatt's Deli in Los Angeles. Many people have suggested this place to me as having some of the best pastrami in the Southland and  I finally made it to the place - it helps they're open till 2 in the morning. The sandwich looked close to the Brooklyn Sandwich at Canter's, but upon first bite I knew this sandwich was slightly better than the Canter's pastrami. The rye bread was that crazy crispy, chewy double baked rye you only get in LA (or at least I've only found in LA) and the pastrami was machine-sliced thin, but had an excellent sweeter less spicy flavor. I was very impressed with my Greenblatt's sandwich and I recommend trying it out if you're on Sunset and feel that pastrami itch. They even have a large selection of fine wines and a big deli counter to take things to go, if you please.

I've been getting pretty chummy with the Deli Board. They know me by name and face now...and I've been going there every week consistently for the past month and I must say I'm always impressed and happy with my meal. The first sandwich above was the "Rach" which is a pastrami on dutch crunch with Russian dressing. I talked about the Bay Area's obsession with Dutch Crunch bread in this previous post and I commend Adam (Owner of Deli Board) for making a sandwich that is both Bay Area and Deli in the same package. The second picture was a trio of sliders known as the "three amigos" special. I think if they were actually the three amigos....I guess Steve Martin would be the pastrami....maybe Chevy Chase...I'm not sure. I have become a really big fan of the Deli Board's soups and salads as well...try a Board Cobb out and tell me you don't think it's excellent, big, and tasty.

I was very pleased to see another blogger's write up for the Deli Board and Wise Son's deli. Rachel Allen of the blog "The Jew and the Carrot" wrote an excellent post on the two delis and how they're opening up the Jewish Deli scene in San Francisco - check it out here and comment on her page and tell her you love Deli Board, you love or are going to try Wise Son's and that the Pastrami King sent me here....You have your instructions my pastrami subjects...make it happen. I honestly get a warm feeling inside when thinking about these two delis and how successful they have been penetrating the deli wasteland of San Francisco. Soon people will be talking about our fabulous Jewish delis - instead of making songs about how we don't have them - like this song from Rita Abrams. We, the pastrami fans of the Bay, need to work to change this attitude that we don't have any good delis in the city and Deli Board and Wise Son's are breaking the old anecdotes that "San Francisco has no worthwhile Jewish Delis". Blasphemy, I say.

Rachel did a tremendous job on her article and it made SF look progressive and hip in the deli community: Kudos Rachel! On the other side of the spectrum, I was disgusted by the recent 7x7 article on pastrami sandwiches in the city entitled "Refreshingly Unhip: SF's Oldschool Pastrami Sandwiches". Take a look at that article folks...there are many things wrong with this picture. My first issue, the writer of this article never used rye bread....ever. I'm sorry....but an "old school" pastrami sandwich comes on rye bread. I'm all for new Dutch Crunch experiments like Adam's Rach (I actually want to commend him a 2nd time down here...way to go making it both Bay Area and Deli at the same time.), but  an "old school" pastrami sandwich looks like the sandwich I got at Greenblatt's. It's on rye bread....maybe with some coleslaw...but if it were a truly traditional, old school it would come with mustard and that's it. Four of the sandwiches were on soft rolls....and one was on a Kaiser roll...not very traditional...maybe the kaiser roll...but certainly not a soft roll if you wanted "old school". My second issue with this article is the deli selection. They get gold stars for Moise's Pippic and Miller's East Coast....but the rest of the class doesn't belong in the pastrami conversation. M&L, Yellow Submarine and Roxie center were poor choices...choices that reek of someone who gets subs...but never gets pastrami sandwiches. With a little more research....7x7 could have found out that Memphis Minnie's has a special pastrami on Wednesdays or Wise Son's makes their own pastrami and serves it on Saturday...but of course those places are new, so if you really, really wanted to get Old School SF on em' they could have gone to David's Deli, Max's Opera Cafe, Lefty O'Doul's and Tommy's Joynt on Van Ness. All those places were opened some time ago, are well known to SF locals, and serve traditional pastrami sandwiches on rye bread...hell Lefty's and Tommy's hand slice the pastrami in front of you.  Burrfish on you for not taking time to do this article properly...7x7....I'm disappointed.

That's all for now, Folks.  @Pastramking on Twitter. E-mail is - my yelp address is and please join my Facebook fan page. My next post is going to be in the Bay Area most likely....was thinking about Spruce or Orson Cafe....please let me know what you'd like to see and I'll try to make it happen.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wise Son's Pastrami Sandwich, Yelp Praise

Hey there pastrami fans. I hope you had an awesome Mardi Gras. This past weekend, I finally was able to try the Wise Son's pastrami sandwich...and boy was it awesome.

This sandwich was a bit hard to Wise Son's is only serving on Saturdays as a pop-up inside Jackie's Cafe on Valencia (@ Duboce). The pastrami was sweeter than most of the pastrami I have tried - more salty/sweet than spicy. The slices were larger, thicker hand cut slices - which I normally prefer over the machine-sliced, thinner slices of pastrami. The brine had a large fat layer on it that let you know without a doubt in your mind that this was pastrami and not corned beef. I have never seen a corned beef with that type of brine on the outside, although it did have pinkish hue (not as ruby red) that some corned beef has. The rye bread was very good, the rye crust was chewy and crispy...but it still wasn't as good as the double-baked rye of Langer's. A very lovely presentation and a tasty pastrami - a definite 5 star in my book. Can't wait to try it again!

Speaking of Langer's....I had a guy harass me a bit when I ordered my sandwich @ Wise Son's with Swiss cheese and coleslaw. He said "That's not kosher, it goes against the grain." I smiled....this guy is 40+ years old and screams East Coast...but I'm confident in my deli ordering skills. I'm confident because I know the first deli I ever went to - Langer's in Los Angeles - has been proclaimed the best deli in the world by many, many people. "I'm not Jewish, I'm Polish. I do not adhere to Kosher law." I replied - then with a question to him "Where do you like to get your pastrami, usually?" He told me he was a a big fan of Max's Opera Café, but that he's from Brooklyn and "nothing beats Brooklyn." I have a bit of an issue with this statement. Many people try to claim Brooklyn when claiming the best deli food, but more often than not - I ask them which deli and where and their response is some small place I've never heard of or they give me an Italian deli instead of a Jewish Deli as an example. I know of some delis in Brooklyn - Mile End comes to mind as well as David's Brisket House and Ben's Best (Queens) - but I do think it's a cop out to claim Brooklyn without backing any claims. At least give me the name of the place that makes Brooklyn unbeatable. After he claimed Brooklyn, I responded "Oh yeah - Max's Opera Cafe uses Robert's Corned Meat in the city, they do good business." He looked at me like how the hell did he know that? then following up "and if you're going to claim Brooklyn on me - I'm going to have to claim LA. You ever been to Langer's? Best pastrami in the world." He told me "no" and I told him he's "missing out" and I hand him my Pastrami King card. Yes - I can tell a old Jewish maven from Brooklyn he's missing out on the best deli food without flinching - because I am the Pastrami King!

I got some awesome love on yelp this past few weeks - two awesome reviews. The first review was from a a girl named Tram, from San Jose, who reviewed the Deli Board. Check out the review here, but my favorite part is in the beginning.

"Theodore.. if it weren't for your review, I wouldn't have ordered the Boca sandwich.. I came here from San Jose w/ a one track mind: I MUST get Boca or else my heart would stop instantly."

Nice! Thanks a bunch Tram. I'm glad that Boca treated you well and I'm sure the owner of the Deli Board will be happy to know I'm sending him pastrami lovers. The second review that mentioned me was from a friend Luis A. We went to Miller's East together and he was blown away by how good it was. Check out Luis' review here.

A small excerpt "I was referred to this place by 'THE PASTRAMI KING' and now I know why he is called that. This guys truly knows his craft and was not kidding about the food here." I'm blushing from all the praise on yelp. It's amazing to see how many people have reached out and talked about how I led them to a great deli experience.

I got some news David Sax, writer of the book "Save the Deli", will be in the Bay Area to do a story on yelp and yelp elites. I'm not sure he knew I was yelp elite, but he does now and I'm hoping to have some pastrami with him sometime next week. Hopefully will get some pictures for the blog of David. I am also planning on going to Los Angeles at the end of the month and will be trying a few places there (hopefully).

My e-mail is Follow me on Twitter @Pastramiking. My yelp stuff is always and please, join my facebook fan page. There is a link at the top of the page for "liking" the fan page - do it!