Thankfully, the pastrami sandwich has spread from New York City delis and diners to destinations around the globe. Whether you prefer your wafer-thin, peppery pastrami oily and in a towering rye sandwich, or stuffed in a pita with pickles and creamy coleslaw, the following cities are overflowing with options.
New York City, USA
Katz's Deli, one of NYC's oldest and most renowned delis, makes a mean pastrami sandwich. Photo by Katz's Deli.
Other than ordering a hot dog, there aren’t many more authentic New York City experiences than sinking your teeth into a peppery, smokey and piled-high pastrami sandwich. Though many claims exist as to the creation of this typical New York delicacy, one of the most widespread theories is that a charismatic Jewish restaurateur named Sussman Volk sold it at his Delancey Street deli in the late 19th century, after which it spread like wildfire. The recipe involves beef being cured, smoked, seasoned with a special blend of spices, sliced wafer thin and layered generously between two slices of rye bread with a smear of spicy mustard. There is an almost overwhelming array of beautiful pastrami sandwiches to be found in NYC but the oldest and most renowned delis include Sarge’s, the Carnegie, the Second Avenue and Katz’s; the latter has been serving kosher, tender and enormous pastrami sandwiches since 1888. Roll yourself home to the fashionable Ludlow Hotel, a one-minute walk from Katz’s.
Try a home-smoked, fragrant pastrami sandwich at Wexler's Deli. Photo by Wexler's LA.
Though the pastrami sandwich is a more recent phenomenon in LA than it is in New York City, you can still get it practically everywhere. Whether you opt for a food truck or a traditional deli, you won’t be disappointed by the high pastrami standard in this culinary city. Try the home-smoked, fragrant Colorado beef version, complemented by spicy coleslaw or potato salad at Wexler’s Deli. Then there’s Brent’s Delicatessen, where the juicy pastrami is layered with Swiss cheese sauerkraut and Russian dressing. And Factor’s, whose generously-sized sandwiches feature ribbon-thin pastrami in delicious rye bread. Last and certainly not least, Langer’s Deli arguably serves the best in town, with caraway-studded rye bread packed with flavourful, moist, hand-cut meat plus a choice of additional fillings. Stay at the sought-after Line Hotel in Koreatown, just a five-minute drive from Langer’s.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Visit Amsterdam's De Ten Katemarkt for sizzling pastrami served in a baguette
The Dutch love their sandwiches, so the choice in Amsterdam is huge. One of the best can be found in De Ten Katemarkt – a market in the city’s Oud West area. There’s a New York City deli-style stand selling everything from prosciutto to homemade pasta, where you’ll find a relatively small but perfectly formed pastrami sandwich. They place the ruby-coloured pastrami on a sizzling plate in front of you to heat it up, then serve it in a small, plain baguette, with a bit of lettuce and a creamy sauce on top – the end result is a greasy, smokey and salty delight. Stay at the smart Hotel De Hallen, a two-minute walk from De Ten Katemarkt.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
In a country famed for its high quality beef, the pastrami sandwiches won't disappoint
The high quality of Argentinian beef is famous throughout the world, so it follows that its pastrami is equally fantastic. Try one of Buenos Aires' best pastrami sandwiches at La Crespo, a little restaurant in the historically Jewish neighbourhood of Villa Crespo. Here, you’ll enjoy a moreish combination of corned beef and pastrami, where the meat is served hot, perfectly pink and thinly-sliced on a hybrid rye and pumpernickel bread with tangy dijon mustard, caramelized onions and sweet pickles. There’s also La Pastronería, an unassuming restaurant that prides itself on its pastrami as well as on offering a completely gluten-free dining experience. The classic sandwich here is served on warm tapioca bread alongside red cabbage, potatoes and salad drizzled with honey and lime vinaigrette. Check into Bonjour My Vera, a highly rated apartment in the Villa Crespo neighbourhood.
Head to London's Shoreditch to try the celebrated pastrami sandwich at Monty's Deli
Londoners are spoilt for choice when it comes to pastrami sandwiches. You can easily get your hands on an oily classic here, as well as more experimental takes like the pastrami pita at Stoke Newington’s casual, Jewish-inspired neighbourhood restaurant, The Good Egg. At Monty’s Deli in Shoreditch, the tantalizingly tall, traditional pastrami sandwich is often hailed as the best in London, containing thin paper-thin, hand-sliced, smoky rose-pink meat and sauerkraut. Further south in Peckham, the Blackbird Bakery sits under the railway arches on Queen’s Road and offers delicious pastrami sandwiches with sauerkraut, melted cheese and rye bread to eat in or to go. The Ace Hotel Shoreditch is only a 10-minute walk from Monty’s Deli.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Pastrami sanwiches aren't ubiquitous in Tel Aviv but when you do find one, it's bound to be good
Seeing as New York City has Jewish immigrants to thank for its pastrami sandwich, you might expect this hearty dish to be ubiquitous in Tel Aviv’s delis. Surprisingly, it’s not always on the menu but when it is, it’s exemplary, using the fine ingredients available in Israel. One of the city’s finest examples can be tasted at Delicious Deli Bar, which has two branches in the heart of Tel Aviv. Here, pastrami is substituted with thin slices of succulent and steaming, smoked corned beef and topped with a pickle and the deli's signature mustard. With the smell of smoked meat and freshly baked bread wafting through the air, and the sight of paper-wrapped sandwiches so thick they look as if they might topple over, it’s a great tribute to a typical New York City deli. Just a three-minute walk from Delicious Deli Bar, Hotel Allenby 106 is a hotel full of mid-century furnishings on one of Tel Aviv’s most popular streets.