New York lost its famed Carnegie Deli in 2016, but that doesn’t mean Gotham has lost its pastrami bona fides—just take a look at the best pastrami sandwiches in NYC for proof. Of course, we’ve got the old guard of New York delis—your Katz’s, your Ben’s Best—but we’re also heralding a new school of pastrami-slicing operations, from Greenpoint restaurants like Frankel’s to newer East Village restaurants like Harry & Ida’s. Here’s where to find the best pastrami sandwiches in NYC.
Best pastrami sandwiches in NYC
This cavernous cafeteria is a repository of New York history—glossies of celebs spanning the past century crowd the walls, and the classic Jewish deli offerings are nonpareil. Start with a crisp-skinned, all-beef hot dog. Then flag down a meat cutter and order a legendary sandwich. The brisket sings with horseradish, and the thick-cut pastrami stacked high between slices of rye is the stuff of dreams. Everything tastes better with a glass of the hoppy house lager; if you’re on the wagon, make it a Dr. Brown’s.
Raised on Jewish-food landmarks like Barney Greengrass and Zabar’s, brother-owners and Upper West Side natives Zach and Alex Frankel (former chef at Jack’s Wife Freda and half of Brooklyn synth-pop duo Holy Ghost!, respectively) preserve the traditions of their lox-peddling elders with menschy earnestness. There are no revisionist latkes or molecular-gastro matzo balls here—just the deli staples they, and New York, grew up on. The shop’s hand-cut, thick-sliced pastrami is a fatty marvel; get it Reuben-style, dressed copiously with sauerkraut, Russian dressing and its own considerable juices on rye.
The onetime East Village institution, now located in Murray Hill, brings its chopped liver, corned beef and pastrami to the Upper East Side. Brothers Josh and Jeremy Lebewohl, the founder's nephews, stay true to the original with the same menu of famed Jewish standards at this 70-seat location.
It’s a boastful name but this two-decades-old Upper East Side counter has the bona fides to back it up. The thick-sliced pastrami is fatty and fall-apart tender, kissed with smoke and served up on slices of Orwasher’s rye.
This old-school Jewish deli—a Bed-Stuy institution since 1981—changed hands in 2008, but you can still find the original's legendary sandwiches. The menu features just three items: pastrami, brisket and corned beef. Get yours piled high on a roll or rye with a side of brisket-drippings gravy.
Back when Joseph Liebman first opened this Riverdale, Bronx deli in 1953, it was one of nearly 100 Jewish delicatessens in the borough. Nearly six decades later, it's one of two old-timers left. (Loeser's on W 231st is the other.) The luncheonette–rigged with Formica tabletops, padded green booths, and counter cases showcasing hulks of brisket and kosher franks–was taken over by the Dekel family in the '80s, but the menu hasn't changed over time, offering cold-cut platters, hot open-faced sandwiches and pastrami, which is made and sliced on premises before it's piled high on rye.
Sarge’s is generally believed to be the city’s only 24-hour Jewish delicatessen. And it’s a really good one, at that. The matzo ball soup is dead-on—a spongy orb submerged in a rich broth (offered, as it should be, with or without noodles), and the sandwiches are as flavorful and enormous as anything at Carnegie or Katz’s. The folks at Sarge’s are the real thing, from the appropriately gruff-but-friendly waiters to the not-insignificant number of old folks shuffling in. By the time you’ve finished your meal you won’t be hungry for days.
For 78 years, this slender Flatiron joint has dished out diner fare like hot dogs and egg creams with the kind of (earned) swagger unique to New York’s restaurant institutions. Workers from nearby offices and the inevitable clutch of tourists have edged out the over-60 set, but locals still sidle up to the counter for retro classics. The corned-beef-and-chopped-liver sandwich and the spectacular pastrami Reuben belong in the pantheon of the city’s deli stalwarts.