New Yorkers know their pastrami and aren’t shy about telling you how to eat it: Add Russian dressing, a classic deli condiment. Forget Russian dressing; mustard’s the only way to go. At Chowhound favorite Katz’s (pictured), tip the counter guy a buck or two for a bigger, juicier portion. Tip Katz’s counter guy or don’t, you’ll get the same meat either way. OK, so the ‘hounds aren’t in lockstep. But the back-and-forth is just part of a passionate, never-ending conversation that’s also yielded the following pastrami recommendations, listed alphabetically.
1. DAVID’S BRISKET HOUSE
533 Nostrand Avenue (between Atlantic Avenue and Herkimer Street), Brooklyn
Enormous sandwiches of fatty, tender beef, mildly spiced yet full of flavor, are the ticket at this Bed-Stuy shop and its new Bay Ridge location. The namesake brisket rocks, too—get it with gravy.
2. JAY & LLOYD’S KOSHER DELI
2718 Avenue U (between E. 27th and 28th streets), Brooklyn
Moist, delicious pastrami (as well as homey, oniony kasha varnishkes, among other old-world comforts) has made this Sheepshead Bay deli a neighborhood institution.
3. JOHN BROWN SMOKEHOUSE
10-43 44th Drive (between 10th and 11th streets), Long Island City, Queens
This Kansas City–style barbecue joint will smoke pretty much anything, including well-seasoned house-cured pastrami that stars in sandwiches solo or with Swiss, coleslaw, and Russian dressing.
4. KATZ’S DELICATESSEN
205 E. Houston Street (at Ludlow Street), Manhattan
Superior hand-sliced meat (pictured)—mildly smoked and succulent, especially if you order it “juicy”—has long made Katz’s the city’s top pastrami destination for Chowhounds (who mostly overlook its flimsy rye bread).
5. LIEBMAN’S KOSHER DELICATESSEN
552 W. 235th Street (between Johnson and Oxford avenues), Bronx
At this 60-year-old Riverdale landmark, one of the last kosher delis standing in the Bronx, the house-smoked pastrami’s thin-sliced, tender, and flavorful as ever.
6. MILE END DELICATESSEN
97 Hoyt Street (between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street), Brooklyn
A smokier, spicier Montreal-style spin on cured brisket, paired with excellent Orwashers rye bread, won over ‘hounds three years ago at Mile End’s original Brooklyn deli and last year at its Manhattan sandwich shop.
7. MILL BASIN KOSHER DELICATESSEN
5823 Avenue T (near E. 59th Street), Brooklyn
Works by Chagall and Lichtenstein, among other artists, hang on the walls, but for Chowhounds the true masterpiece is on the plate: juicy, peppery pastrami.
8. MISSION CHINESE FOOD
154 Orchard Street (between Stanton and Rivington streets), Manhattan
Brisket rubbed with Sichuan peppercorn and other spices, then smoked over wood for 12 hours, is the foundation of a killer dish that exemplifies Chef Danny Bowien’s inventive riff on “Americanized Oriental food.”
9. PASTRAMI QUEEN
1125 Lexington Avenue (between E. 78th and 79th streets), Manhattan
This uptown favorite heaps a generous portion of moist, thick-cut meat on top-notch Jewish rye. Ask for “dino size” and you’ll get extra pastrami at no extra charge.
10. SARGE’S DELICATESSEN
548 Third Avenue (between E. 36th and 37th streets), Manhattan
This 24/7 destination for tender pastrami piled high on good rye was closed by a fire in November. The good news: It aims to reopen this summer.