15 Iconic Pastrami Sandwiches From Across The US

There's a singular pleasure in sliding into a deli's leather booth with a steaming cup of coffee and a loaded plate. In the U.S., there's a good chance your dish is bursting with the cured beef sandwich known as pastrami.

Pastrami is an American culinary innovation introduced by Jewish immigrants in 19th-century New York City. Historians are pretty clear that Romanian Jews migrating to New York's Lower East Side brought pastrama, a cured goose meat, with them. They then started using beef instead and the process began to include curing, spicing, smoking, and steaming. When a Lithuanian immigrant named Sussman Volk got the recipe and started selling it in his deli in 1887, a New York icon was born.

From the origin of the pastrami sandwich in NYC, its tender, smoky flavor spread to Jewish delis and diners across the country. In its simplest form, the pastrami is loaded between slices of rye bread smeared with spicy mustard. This list looks at iconic places to savor the classic American sandwich based on professional and amateur reviews, as well as platefuls of personal experience.

Katz's Delicatessen in New York City

When you talk about the origin of the Jewish deli, one name comes to mind. Katz's Deli has been slicing up its pastrami sandwiches since 1888. New York's oldest deli draws crowds clamoring in multiple meat cutting lines and jockeying for a table, trays piled high with mounds of juicy meat on rye and plates of pickles.

After over 130 years, the Lower East Side icon still serves about 15,000 pounds of pastrami weekly. The navel-cut meat spends three weeks in brine before being massaged with a spicy rub and smoked for three days. It's then boiled for three hours and steamed before being hand-carved to order.

The only thing at Katz's more famous than its pastrami sandwich is its cameo in the 1989 film "When Harry Met Sally." A sign hangs over the table where Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal filmed the "I'll have what she's having" scene. What she had was turkey, but Billy's character ordered the pastrami sandwich.


(212) 254-2246

205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen in Chicago

Chicago politicians, foodies, and old-timers alike assemble in the cafeteria line at Manny's. It was even President Obama's first public stop after his election. While the immigrant neighborhood and Maxwell Street Market peddlers that once surrounded Manny's on the Near West Side have faded away, the restaurant has been satisfying Chicago appetites since 1942. Today, the fourth generation of the Raskin family still serves food commonly found at a Jewish deli

Order with your eyes and cram your tray with matzo ball soup, corned beef, and potato pancakes — just don't skip the oversized pastrami sandwich. Owner Danny Raskin told the Chicago Tribune, "Twenty years ago, we went through about 20 pounds of pastrami a day. Now we sell 150 pounds." Its original pastrami sandwich uses the fattier meat cut from the beef navel and is oven-roasted rather than smoked before it's sliced thin on a meat slicer.

To celebrate its 80th anniversary, Manny's introduced a second pastrami sandwich called the 80. While the cure and spices used are the same as the classic version, there are a few differences. The meat comes from the beef brisket, subtly smoked with hickory and hand cut. Still hungry? Head to the deli counter to stock up on lean, turkey, or navel pastrami.


(312) 939-2855

1141 S Jefferson St, Chicago, IL 60607

Langer's Delicatessen in Los Angeles

With about 10 hot pastrami sandwiches to choose from, the menu at Langer's can be confounding. Follow the lead of the Westlake lunch rush and order the #19 – hand-cut pastrami with a slice of melted Swiss topped with sweet coleslaw between slices of twice-baked rye Bread smeared with Russian dressing.

How did the pastrami at Langer's earn famous fans like Jonathan Gold and Nora Ephron, who called it the "finest hot pastrami sandwich in the world," (per The New Yorker)? Owner Norm Langer let the Los Angeles Times peek behind the pastrami-making curtain. Using founder Al Langer's recipe, RC Provisions in Burbank makes the pastrami as they have for 40 years. It's brined for three to seven days before getting peppered, rubbed, and smoked. It will shrink about 35% during the steaming process which can take from two-and-a-half to five hours until it's tender.

What's with the twice-baked bread? Before opening Langer's in 1947, Al Langer ran a deli in Palm Springs which he deemed a bakery desert. He had bread bussed in by Greyhound daily and refreshed the day-old bread by baking it again. One bite of the crispy rye bread and you know you're at Langer's.


(213) 483-8050

704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

Slyman's Restaurant in Cleveland

The sign outside boasts "Cleveland's Biggest Corned Beef Sandwich" but the pastrami at Slyman's is also sliced sky high. Locals line up early at the original St. Claire Avenue restaurant on the East Side of Cleveland before the pastrami sells out. Queuing in a line that stretches outside, they'll rub shoulders with office suits, construction workers, and visiting celebrities like local legend LeBron James.

The family-owned restaurant has been slinging sandwiches since Lebanese immigrants Joe and Mae Slyman started it in 1964. Inside, not much has changed over the years save more photos of anglers and their big catch getting taped to the walls. According to owner Freddie Slyman, the brined recipes for briskets haven't changed in 60 years either. Pastrami is the second-biggest seller, and the thinly sliced, peppery beef piled six inches high between slices of rye is legendary for busting guts in Cleveland. Slyman told WKYC that the sandwiches as tall as the Terminal Tower were his father's idea. "He knew that if you make somebody a big sandwich they're going to come back."


(216) 621-3760

3106 St Clair Ave NE, Cleveland, OH 44114

Kush by Stephens in Miami

Florida almost lost its oldest deli, Stephen's Delicatessen, which opened in 1954. Fortunately, Miami restaurateur Matthew Kuscher purchased the business preserving its vintage diner vibe and Jewish deli flavors under the name Kush by Stephens. The restaurant goes through ten loins of pastrami a day, each boiled for three and a half hours. Order it on rye bread with mustard or stacked with corned beef on a combo sandwich. You'll even find some creative uses of the meat like pastrami nachos, Reuben and pastrami croquetas, and the Johnny Secada burger.

The real star at Stephen's is Henderson "Junior" Biggers who has been hand-slicing meat here for over 60 years. The revamped restaurant includes a dedicated carving station called "Junior's Station" where guests can watch the master at work. As Kuscher told the Miami New Times, "Junior is the heart and soul of this operation ... If it wasn't for him hand-slicing meat for more than 60 years, all of this would probably be long gone."


(305) 887-8863

1000 E 16th St, Hialeah, FL 33010

Attman's Deli in Baltimore

Baltimore has the distinction of having a Corned Beef Row. Where seven delis once served Lombard Street in Jonestown, today only two remain. On that row, Attman's Deli is the oldest continuously family-owned deli in the country serving Charm City since 1915.

Attman's gets its meat from one local distributor and one in New York. The third generation of Attmans maintains the same brine recipe that made the deli a Baltimore destination and keeps it a closely guarded secret. Sandwich lovers don't seem to mind waiting in a line that stretches outside for their favorite pastrami and corned beef creations. Inside, a small dining room called the Kibitz Room has heard many conversations over the decades. Pastrami features on many of its more than 50 sandwiches, but the New Yorker pairs hot pastrami with chopped liver for an undeniable combination. With a legacy this delicious, it's no wonder that founder Harry Attman was inducted into the Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame.


(410) 563-2666

1019 E Lombard St, Baltimore, MD 21202

Shapiro's Delicatessen in Indianapolis

With 119 years in business, Shapiro's is an Indianapolis staple. It started as a grocery store opened by Russian immigrants Louis and Rebecca Shapiro in 1905, and its secret is in maintaining their old family recipes cooked from scratch. As general manager and 30-year Shapiro's veteran, Ronda Gude told the Courier & Press, "They keep everything here strictly the same as time goes by."

That's good news for pastrami fans. Shapiro's uses a smoked navel cut of the beef, spiced and lightly in Brooklyn and then cooked on site. If you order the classic pastrami sandwich on rye, come hungry as the portion will weigh heavy on your cafeteria tray. For something a little lighter, opt for the P.L.T. sandwich which swaps out bacon for crispy pastrami. It's served along with Indiana's finest lettuce and tomatoes.


(317) 631-4041

808 S Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46225

Perly's Restaurant & Delicatessen in Richmond

Richmond tradition is alive and well at Perly's, a Jewish deli reimagined in the space of a restaurant by the same name that was a local fixture for over 50 years. Lauded local chef Kevin Roberts maintained the space's name and Art Deco interior to the relief of Richmonders. He also kept the New York-style deli concept and added a seasonal twist to the menu.

Expect to wait in line outside before snagging a vintage wooden booth or bar stool at the Monroe Ward restaurant. The decorative tin ceiling and green, diamond-patterned walls surround the room with the charm of a bygone era. Perly's offers playful takes on Jewish deli favorites. After all, its tagline is "It's Yiddish for delicious." If you have time for a nap afterwards, order the Oy Vey! Featuring a half pound of pastrami and a half pound of corned beef jammed between slices of rye with mustard. Or grab a fork to take on the Jewish Sailor, an open-faced hot pastrami sandwich topped with pickled cabbage, brown mustard, chicken liver, smoked sausage, and onion.


(804) 912-1560

111 E Grace St, Richmond, VA 23219

Hobby's Delicatessen and Restaurant in Newark

Hobby's Delicatessen has a menu twelve pages long, and pastrami features prominently at the Newark staple. Sam Brummer took over the restaurant in 1962, and today his sons Marc and Michael continue delighting with deli classics. All these years later, pastrami is still the most popular item on the long menu.

The Brummers get their navel-cut pastrami from the Bronx. It's then boiled and steamed until tender. As Michael Brummer told the New York Times, "We get a geschmack [Yiddish for tasty] piece of pastrami, with fat in all the right places ... It's so good you want to give it a hug." Whether you order a classic pastrami on rye or a #1 paired with corned beef, turkey, coleslaw, and Russian dressing, you're going to need long arms to hug the oversized pastrami sandwiches at Hobby's.


(973) 623-0410

32 Branford Pl #2723, Newark, NJ 07102

The Hat in Pasadena

You may not expect pastrami at a fast-food joint, but the Hat has nailed the combination. Founded as a sandwich stand in 1951 in L.A., the Hat spread its succulent creation to several locations including Pasadena. The menu proclaims the Pastrami Dip as "world famous," so why order anything else?

Take a step back in time when you open the door to a wood-paneled room pumping oldies music. When your number gets called, you'll barely be able to contain your excitement as you tear into the carefully wrapped sandwich. It's wrapped because the thinly sliced pastrami is dripping with juice and falling out of the bun. The standard bun is brushed with yellow mustard and studded with pickle slices, the tang needed to cut through the smoky pastrami with its decadent fatty, pieces mixed in with the lean ones. It's not the most traditional pastrami, but it did vanish off of the tray pretty quickly.


(626) 449-1844

491 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

Famous Fourth Street Deli in Philadelphia

The City of Brotherly Love has had a love affair with the Famous Fourth Street Deli for over a century. The iconic Philadelphia restaurant celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2023. Don't be surprised if you see some visiting celebrities or politicians pass through the eye-catching black-and-white tile dining room. The deli has even had its fifteen minutes of fame in films like "Philadelphia" and "In Her Shoes."

Hundreds of people each day come for the traditional Jewish foods that the Famous Fourth Street Deli is known for. The menu is extensive with smoked fish department, breakfast anytime, and desserts baked in-house. The Famous Fourth Street Deli cures its meats and smokes pastrami on site, and it claims to sell more pastrami and corned beef than anyone else in Philadelphia. The Queen Village restaurant is still not skimping on the portions of its overstuffed sandwiches. Sure, the house-smoked pastrami comes in classic sandwiches like the hot pastrami, but you'll also find it in a hot dog, cheeseburger, and, naturally, cheesesteak.


(215) 922-3274

700 S 4th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Zingerman's Delicatessen in Ann Arbor

Outside of the Midwest, chances are you haven't heard of Zingerman's. If you have, you know it's the site of foodie pilgrimages that can take days to taste your way through the Ann Arbor institution's many restaurant brands. The establishments on offer range from a creamery, to a Korean restaurant, to a working farm.

The deli was Zingerman's original enterprise, opened in 1982 near the University of Michigan campus. Despite multiple expansions over the years, you should expect to wait in a line that stretches around the block. There are dozens of sandwiches on the menu at Zingerman's, but the customer favorite is the Binny's Brooklyn Reuben. Its pastrami comes from the lean and tender first cut of the brisket. The meat is brined and cured with spices including clove and black pepper before being hickory smoked. The pastrami is topped with Swiss Emmental cheese, sauerkraut, and house Russian dressing and balanced between slices of grilled Pumpernickel bread from Zingerman's own Bakehouse. As President Barack Obama told a crowd in 2014, "The Reuben is killer," (via South Bend Tribune).


(734) 663-3354

422 Detroit St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Loeb's NY Deli in Washington, D.C.

Loeb's has had to move locations a few times since its founding in 1959, but the downtown Washington, D.C. deli shows no sign of slowing down. Back then, a pastrami sandwich cost 90 cents. Today, a hot pastrami sandwich will run you about $10. The family behind the counter hasn't changed. Walter and Sigrid Loeb passed the business down to their children Marlene, David, and Steve. The classic no-frills deli menu has also stood the test of time.

Whenever Loeb's has had to move locations, hungry Washingtonians follow. Public officials mix with tourists and locals all in search of a comforting lunch. The second generation of Loebs serves approximately 400 pounds of pastrami a week. Founder Walter Loeb's favorite sandwich is still one of the deli's most popular orders. Order the Loeb, a hot pastrami sandwich with coleslaw, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on rye.

Loeb's Facebook profile

(202) 965-5632

1712 I St NW, Washington, DC 20006

Kenny and Ziggy's New York Delicatessen in Houston

Texas isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of pastrami. But, third-generation deli man Ziggy Gruber changed the game in 1999 when he opened Kenny and Ziggy's in Houston.

Its triple-smoked pastrami sandwich is worth traveling for. But, make sure you arrive hungry. The pastrami starts its journey as the plate cut of beef (next to the brisket), which is cured in a salty, sugary brine for 45 days. Then, it's spiced with a blend that includes juniper berries and pepper before getting smoked in-house three times. "With the smokiness, the sugar and the salt cure, it balances everything out," chef and co-owner Ziggy Gruber told the Houston Press. The abundant serving of pastrami is loaded in between crunchy slices of rye. Kenny and Ziggy's twice-bake their bread to toast the outside while keeping the inside chewy. Choose a side of macaroni or potato salad or coleslaw, because even the deli meals are bigger in Texas.


(713) 871-8883

1743 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056

Sam Lagrassa's in Boston

A downtown Boston staple since 1968, Sam Lagrassa's offers some creative takes on pastrami. They have more than 10 pastrami sandwich options. Where else can you find a pastrami caprese sandwich or pastrami po boy? With meats made in the restaurant daily, sauces made from scratch, and bread baked to their specifications, it's no surprise that the family-run restaurant serves Boston's favorite sandwich.

In 2022, readers of Boston.com voted Sam Lagrassa's the best place to get a sandwich in town. After 200 Bostonians voted across 88 restaurants yet, Lagrassa's commanded 16% of their support, via Boston.com. The restaurant's most popular sandwich is the chipotle pastrami. Sam Lagrassa's pastrami is tangy and sweet, layered with chipotle honey mustard, coleslaw, and Swiss cheese. This mountain of flavor comes on a grilled Italian sesame roll that's lightly toasted on the outside. It's one thing Bostonians can agree on.


(617) 357-6861

44 Province St, Boston, MA 02108


What makes a sandwich iconic? We scoured pastrami destinations across the country considering professional and amateur reviews and personal experience. We weighed many factors including geographic diversity. Some cities enjoy an abundance of cured meats, but we focused on just one restaurant per city to widen the scope across the country. We aimed to represent a variety of pastrami preparation styles and balance traditional and creative sandwich offerings.

Mostly, we looked to restaurants that have stood the test of time despite changes behind the counter and in their communities. Many of them are among the best Jewish delis in the U.S. Decades on, these classics continue to deliver quality dishes that keep customers returning and hungry for more.