Food & Drink

The 10 Best Places to Get Pastrami in NYC

Published On 10/13/2014 Published On 10/13/2014

Through decades of constant change and upheaval, few constants have endured in New York. Luckily, one of those few is totally pastrami, that magical meat forged from beef navel, smoke, spice, brine, steam, and a squirt of mustard. Here are the 10 spots in NYC that do it best: 
 

Katz's Delicatessen

Lower East Side
A Lower East Side fixture since 1888, Katz’s is the quintessential New York pastrami joint, and one of the few places where locals and tourists mix and mingle. The sandwiches are sweet, juicy, famously massive, and one of only two in the city with hand-carved meat (Mile End is the other). You’d be hard pressed to find a more classic New York meal than Katz’s pastrami on rye with Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry soda.

Flickr/ Salim Virji

Jay and Lloyd's Kosher Deli

Sheepshead Bay
This joint is popular with Sheepshead Bay locals and Anthony Bourdain, who visited as part of his final episode of No Reservations. Despite the vintage atmosphere and experienced staff, the place has only been around since 1993. Either way this is top notch, no-nonsense pastrami.

Facebook/ Pastrami Queen

Pastrami Queen

Upper East Side
One of the few quality Uptown pastrami joints, Pastrami Queen has been serving up thick sandwiches by the Whitney since the late ‘90s, after moving from its original home in Queens. Try the pastrami with Russian dressing, massive sides, or if you’re feeling extra adventurous, try it as part of a massive triple-decker, along with some combination of corned beef, salami, tongue, turkey, or chopped liver.

Facebook/ David's Brisket House

David’s Brisket House

Bed-Stuy
David’s in Bed-Stuy was founded by Jews, serves all the essential Jewish deli meats, and is now run by observant Muslims, who serve up delicious halal pastrami. David's is open every day (with a two-hour break for Friday prayers), and the pastrami has that signature mix of sweet and spice, and with a sizable “small” selling for only $8, it’s a crazy-good deal. Be sure to try the killer Reuben, as well.

Facebook/ Liebman's

Liebman's Kosher Deli

Spuyten Duyvil
A Bronx mainstay since 1953, Liebman’s is one of the few remaining Kosher, family-owned Jewish delis in New York. For those of you willing to make the schlep up there, you’ll be rewarded with pastrami as good as what you’ll find at Katz’s, but cheaper and with basically no tourists.

Facebook/ Ben's Best Kosher Deli

Ben’s Best

Rego Park
Not to be confused with the Ben’s chain of delis, BB’s serves a uniquely old-style, spicier, darker pastrami, that’s been an unsung local favorite since 1945. Be sure to also try the tongue and the rolled beef.

Facebook/ Sarge's

Sarge's Deli

Murray Hill
After being destroyed in a grease fire in 2012, Sarge’s in Murray Hill reopened in March, and it's back with a vengeance. Sarge’s prepares all of its piled-high pastrami on site, right in Manhattan, and is also the only deli in the city open 24/7, making it a very worthy late-night destination.

Flickr/ Brad Greenlee

Artie’s Delicatessen

Upper West Side
The only quality deli currently serving the Upper West Side, Artie’s does up a solid assortment of Jewish deli classics at 83rd and Broadway. In addition to the well-steamed pastrami, be sure to try the hot dogs (both at once?). Despite the heavy vintage atmosphere and menu, it's remarkably only been around since 1999.

Ben Jay

Mile End

Boerum Hill/Noho
If Katz’s is the Sinatra (Happy 100th Frank!) of New York pastrami, Mile End is the Arcade Fire: modern, but familiar, geared towards millennials, and, um, Canadian. Opened in 2010 by Montreal expat Noah Bernamoff, End serves smoked meat (which fine, isn’t technically pastrami, but it’s awesome, so it’s here), the dry-rubbed Canadian cousin of pastrami that’s a little darker, a little more savory, and every bit as delicious, if not more so. Definitely get some poutine covered with it as well.

Flickr/ Jason Lam

Carnegie Deli

Midtown West
While it may exist today mostly as a tourist haven, Carnegie Deli (located just one block from the similarly named concert hall) and its famously surly wait staff still serves up a truly massive, truly delicious pastrami sandwich. If you’re looking to mainline New Yorkiness directly to your heart, this is the place.

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Ben Jay is a photographer, journalist, carnivore, beer and whisky drinker, and music nerd, and his hobbies include brisket and Liverpool FC. You can find his work at Gothamist, Serious Eats, Edible Brooklyn, Edible Manhattan, the Village Voice, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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1. Katz's Delicatessen 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Open since 1888 on the corner of East Houston and Ludlow Street, Katz's is synonymous with iconic New York City food, specifically, slow-cured pastrami and corned beef. There's usually a line filled with a mix of tourists, die-hard New Yorkers, and everyone in between, and the wait is nothing but proof of the stacked sandwiches' pure goodness. You receive a paper ticket when you walk in, order at the counter (be ready!), and wait while the servers sling layers of pink meat onto cafeteria trays. If pastrami on rye (or better yet, a hot reuben) is your kind of late-night food, then you're in luck -- Katz's is open all night on Fridays and Saturdays. Words to the wise: stock up on napkins, order a generous side of pickles, and whatever you do, don't lose your ticket.

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2. Jay and Lloyd's Kosher Deli 2718 Avenue U, Brooklyn, NY 11229

This joint is popular with Sheepshead Bay locals and Anthony Bourdain, who visited as part of his final episode of No Reservations. Despite the vintage atmosphere and experienced staff, the place has only been around since 1993. Either way this place has top notch, no-nonsense pastrami.

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3. David's Brisket House 533 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216 (Bed Stuy)

David’s in Bed-Stuy was founded by Jews, serves all the essential Jewish deli meats, and is now run by observant Muslims, who serve up delicious halal pastrami. Oh, and it's open every day (with a two-hour break for Friday prayers).

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4. Liebman's Kosher Deli 552 W 235th St, Bronx, NY 10463 (Bronx)

A Bronx mainstay since 1953, Liebman’s is one of the few remaining Kosher, family-owned Jewish delis in New York. For those of you willing to make the schlep up there, you’ll be rewarded with pastrami as good as what you’ll find at Katz’s, but cheaper and with basically no tourists.

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5. Ben's Best 96-40 Queens Blvd, Queens, NY 11374 (Queens)

This Kosher deli in Rego Park offers up one of the best pastrami sandwiches in New York. Also worth trying: their matzo ball soup, knishes, and stuffed cabbage rolls.

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6. Sarge's Deli 548 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016 (Midtown East)

In Midtown East stands Sarge's Deli -- the ultimate spot (or rather, institution) to get a serious deli sandwich, or a number of traditional dishes from the "hot" bar.

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7. Artie's Delicatessen 2290 Broadway, New York, NY 10024 (Upper West Side)

Open since 1999, Artie's pays homage to legendary restaurateur Artie Cutler (of Carmine's, Docks, Ollie's, Virgils, Gabriela's, Jake's, Columbia Bagel's). It's a classic New York Jewish deli, and offers up one of the city's best pastrami sandwiches.

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8. Carnegie Deli 854 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019 (Midtown West)

Carnegie Deli is a NYC landmark in Midtown West that can get a little clogged with tourists, but is still well worth your time -- pick up the famous Woody Allen, which features giant stacks of their custom smoked and cured pastrami and corned beef on rye. Pair it with some matzah ball soup and you're golden (and incredibly full).

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