And you needn’t focus on New York. At the Second Avenue Deli lunch I described in today’s review, one of my companions, Nora Ephron, expressed admiration for — and a degree of astonishment about — some of the deli food in Los Angeles, where she spends a good chunk of her time. She said her favorite pastrami sandwich in the entire land is the one at Langer’s Delicatessen in Los Angeles (704 South Alvarado St.; 213-483-8050), a restaurant you’ll find mentioned lovingly as well in a Times article from five years ago by Ed Levine. Ed’s article looks at pastrami sandwiches in many other delis as well. I should note here that the use of Katz’s for a famous scene in “When Harry Met Sally,” which Nora wrote, wasn’t her call. It wasn’t specified in the script. Nora did choose the deli in “You’ve Got Mail,” which she directed. It’s Barney Greengrass, and Barney Greengrass is indeed her New York favorite. Getting back to the Second Avenue Deli, the Times Sunday magazine recently published a terrific article by Alex Witchel on its history. And on the topic of favorites, I should name a few of my own. My favorite tongue sandwich from recent memory is the one at Katz’s. At the Second Avenue Deli, the tongue is too cold. As far as pastrami, I think both Katz’s and the Second Avenue Deli are winners. I think the corned beef at the Second Avenue Deli pales beside the pastrami, but I think corned beef always pales beside pastrami. Pastrami’s my preference.
Here in Philadelphia, the deli question’s an interesting one. We’re going to take the contrarian view and say the best Jewish deli sandwich in Philly, bar none, is the Restaurant School special at Koch’s Deli. For a little under $10, you get corned beef, honey turkey, brisket, hot pepper cheese, cole slaw and russian dressing on rye. The sandwich is a killer — and it’s great.
Then there are other Jewish delis. Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen, Steve Stein’s Famous, Kibitz in the City, Hershel’s in the Reading Terminal Market, Hymie’s Merion Deli and all the other suburban outposts… But we have to admit that we’ve never eaten at most of them. We always wish we had, but man… we haven’t.
So what do you think is the best Jewish deli sandwich in Philly? Let us know.
Mustard & Memories [Diner’s Journal/NY Times]
[Image via Roadfood]