Pastrami, the quintessential New York City sandwich of smoky, spiced, fatty beef stacked high on rye, has become a staple sandwich across America. While you can find decent pastrami sandwiches coast to coast, only certain iconic delicatessens truly perfect the art.
These delis use time-honored family recipes, quality ingredients, and curing expertise to create transcendent pastrami that keeps fans lining up daily.
Here is a deep dive into the delis across America that serve up the best pastrami sandwiches you’ll ever taste:
Katz’s Delicatessen – New York City
Address: 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002
No pastrami sandwich roundup would be complete without Katz’s Delicatessen in New York’s Lower East Side. Katz’s first opened in 1888 and has been satisfying pastrami cravings for over 130 years.
Their pastrami sandwich ($22) is built with hand-sliced, juicy home-cured pastrami, cut to order and piled high on fresh rye. Katz’s is so confident in their pastrami sandwiches that they don’t even offer any other meat options.
The pastrami’s perfect balance of smokiness, seasoning, tenderness, and salty beefiness made Katz’s legendary. Other NYC delis have tried to replicate it for decades but Katz’s recipe remains unmatched. Don’t leave without getting a taste!
Langer’s Delicatessen – Los Angeles
Address: 704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles, CA 90057
On the other side of the country, L.A.’s Langer’s Delicatessen serves up West Coast pastrami that can go toe-to-toe with Katz’s. Langer’s opened in 1947 and generations later it still uses founder Al Langer’s original pastrami recipe.
Their hot pastrami sandwich ($22.95) comes on double-baked rye bread topped with pastrami that is steamed until tender, achieving a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Langer’s meticulously cures and smokes their pastrami for over a week, resulting in complex spice notes under the smokiness.
They slice it fresh for every sandwich and load up the rye generously. It’s so good that even LA’s best gourmet chefs gather at Langer’s for their pastrami fix.
Zingerman’s Delicatessen – Ann Arbor, MI
Address: 422 Detroit St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
The Z-man sandwich at Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan tops many lists of best pastrami sandwiches. On double-baked Jewish rye, they layer hot pastrami, baked to a dark caramel color, with house-made Russian dressing and sliced red onion.
The interplay between creamy-tangy dressing, crunchy onion, and unctuous pastrami makes a remarkable sandwich.
Zingerman’s meticulous process of dry-curing, boiling, smoking, and steaming their pastrami for 20+ hours yields incredible depth of flavor. It’s worth the plane ticket to try this legendary creation.
Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen – Portland, OR
Address: 3808 N Williams Ave #125, Portland, OR 97227
In Portland, Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen puts a local spin on classic deli fare. Their pastrami rye ($18) features thick-cut pastrami stacked on their proprietary rye bread.
The pastrami is double-smoked over Oregon oak and juniper, lending a deep, woodsy flavor to the meat. House-brined pickles and a schmear of mustard complete this Pacific Northwest take on a deli staple.
Kenny & Zuke’s devoted fanbase will tell you that this pastrami sandwich is worth the inevitable wait in line.
Shapiro’s Delicatessen – Indianapolis, IN
Address: 808 S Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46225
In the Midwest, Shapiro’s Delicatessen serves up acclaimed smoked meats in Indianapolis. Their hot pastrami sandwich ($15.99) comes piled high with thin-sliced pastrami smoked over hardwood for 10+ hours.
It’s served on exceptional Jewish rye baked on-site and topped with spicy brown mustard. The pastrami’s edge is a gorgeous black crust brimming with spice and smoke essence that provides incredible flavor in every bite.
Locals agree: skip the Indy 500 winner’s circle and head straight to Shapiro’s to celebrate with their life-changing pastrami instead!
Attman’s Delicatessen – Baltimore, MD
Address: 1019 E Lombard St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Attman’s Delicatessen, in Baltimore since 1915, serves an equally amazing hot pastrami sandwich ($15.99) on rye. Their pastrami is smoked in-house over hickory and hand-carved to order, resulting in generous piles of tender, smoky meat.
A smear of sinus-clearing horseradish gives the sandwich a spicy kick. Attman’s classic deli ambiance adds to the appeal. Don’t pass through “Charm City” without experiencing their sensational pastrami sandwich.
America is full of stellar pastrami, with each deli’s recipe reflecting local personality. From historic institutions to new-school smokehouses, these delis prove why pastrami on rye continues to captivate generations of sandwich enthusiasts across the country. Make it your foodie mission to sample them all!