The Best Pastrami Sandwiches in NYC
NYC is known for its pastrami sandwiches. These are the best.
The pastrami sandwich is one of New York’s most iconic foods, so of course we have opinions about where to get the best ones. Whether you’re a fan of sky-high piles of sliced meat barely contained by slices of rye or prefer something more on the reasonably-sized, carefully balanced side, there’s a pastrami sandwich for everyone on this list.
Essen NY Deli
Pastrami purists will want to make a pilgrimage to Midwood’s Essen NY Deli. Here, the sandwich comes with nothing but a thick pile of thinly-sliced, slightly gelatinous pastrami between two slices of soft, squishy rye bread. The first time you go, skip the more interesting pastrami variations and get this, maybe with a side of mustard or Russian dressing. It will come with full and half-sour pickles and a bowl of sweet, creamy cole slaw.
The sandwiches at Sarge’s deli in Murray Hill are served open-faced, on richly buttered and toasted rye, often smothered in melted cheese. We’re partial to the #20, a tower of corned beef and pastrami on grilled rye bread, covered in broiled swiss cheese and sauerkraut, but the variations on the pastrami sandwich here are limited only by your imagination. Come with friends and share, because you’ll want to save room for cheesecake.
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The thing about the pastrami sandwich at Katz’s on the Lower East Side is yes, it’s touristy, but it’s also really good. If you want to experience a sandwich you can’t possibly take a reasonable bite out of, this is the place to go. The pastrami here is still some of the best in New York City, and you can even sit at the table from When Harry Met Sally while you eat it. We won’t call you a transplant, because the native New Yorkers among us love this indulgence, too.
2nd Ave Deli
This kosher deli in Kips Bay has been around in some shape or form for more than 65 years, so they’ve had some time to perfect their pastrami. Despite being sliced very thin—which can result in dry and chewy meat—the tall stack of pastrami between rye here is still impressively tender and juicy, as well as smoky and fatty-but-not-too-fatty. If you want to avoid a dirty look and possibly a short lecture, do not request your bread toasted.
S&P in the Flatiron District makes thick, juicy, extremely flavorful pastrami, and there’s no wrong way to order it. There’s the Dinkelburger, which is like if a pastrami reuben and a cheeseburger had a baby, and the Lil Shonda, a breakfast sandwich that swaps the traditional bacon for a wriggly slab of pastrami. Our favorite of the pastrami sandwich variations on S&P’s extensive menu, this one comes with slaw, swiss, and Russian dressing on rye.
Unless you know someone from south Brooklyn, you might not have heard of Midwood’s Mirage Diner. This place has everything you’d want in an old school Brooklyn diner, right down to the signed photograph of Doris Day hanging near the register and the Sinatra-heavy jukeboxes at each table. The pastrami reuben here is outstanding, from the buttery, toasted rye bread to the perfect ratios of cheese, sauerkraut, meat, and dressing. Any reuben-lover or diner aficionado should eat this at least once in their lives.