It recently came to my attention that I didn’t know pastrami as well as I thought. I’ve eaten plenty of it. I might have been able to allude to a few good and logical reasons of what makes pastrami pastrami and why it’s not corned beef, but I’d only have been fooling myself and whoever I was talking to.
Pastrami isn’t beef simply brined, cooked and sliced – that much I knew. It’s brined, dried, rubbed, smoked, boiled, and hopefully steamed. As for the sandwich, being that it originated in a kosher butcher shop, it wasn’t served with cheese – just pastrami on rye, sometimes with mustard and a pickle. (For a great primer on how New York City’s Katz’s Deli makes their pastrami, check out this article.)
But I’m not here to lecture you. I just want to show you where to find some of the best pastrami sandwiches in Tucson. Some of them are New York City authentic, some not at all, and some a hybrid. The only criteria for this roundup was no Reubens and no subs.
In no order of importance, below are seven killer spots for a pastrami sandwich in Tucson.
A fine, fat sandwich served on local rye. Bumsted’s Play Ball is their own twist on a classic with horseradish mayo, spicy mustard, and Muenster cheese.
Visit Bumsted’s online at bumstedstucson.com.
Fifth Street Deli
If you’re looking for an authentic New York City pastrami sandwich from a kosher deli, look no further. As the only sandwich on this list with pastrami direct from NYC with grain mustard on rye bread baked fresh in house, it doesn’t get more authentic than this.
Visit Fifth Street Deli on the web at fifthstreetdeli.com.
Downtown Tucson’s Hub offers a number of options including Pastrami on Rye, Pastrami on Swiss, and a Pastrami Reuben. It’s certified Angus beef pastrami-cized and it’s darn good.
Visit Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery on the web at hubdowntown.com.
Although Melt calls their pastrami sandwich the New York City, the inclusion of Swiss cheese makes it less so. Still, it’s delicious. Grilled rye and hot pastrami with melted Swiss and mustard make Melt’s pastrami sandwich a contender.
Visit Melt on the web at melttucson.com.
As one of only a handful of places that cure their pastrami in-house, the flavor of the Sausage Shop Meat Market & Deli’s pastrami is different from all the others. They also cure many other meats in house.
Tony’s Italian Deli
Tony’s Italian Deli keeps it simple with their basic Pastrami on Rye with mustard. It’s Boar’s Head meat and you can get it with or without Swiss, as well as Reuben style.
Visit Tony’s Italian Deli on the web at tonysitaliandelitucson.com.
Union Public House
4340 N. Campbell
Cured in-house, Union’s Pastrami Sandwich is well worth a visit. With swiss cheese and whole grain mustard on rye, this version of the classic will satisfy any pastrami purist.
Visit Union Public House on the web at uniontucson.com.
Did we miss anything? Let us know!