Restaurant: Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop
Last visited: September 12, 2011
Location: Manhattan, NY (Gramercy/Flatiron)
Address: 174 5th Ave (between E 22 St. and E 23 St.)
Transit: 23 Street
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
Food: 5 (based on just pastrami)
- Since 1929
- New York’s famous deli
- “Must try” pastrami
- Multiple award winning deli
- “Best in City”
- Local & tourist favourite
- Frequented by celebrities
- Long lines at peak hours
- Budget-friendly/Cheap eats
- Eat in/Take out
- Accepts credit cards
- Mon-Fri: 6:30am-8pm
- Sat: 8am-6pm Sun: 8am-4pm
**Recommendations: Pastrami Sandwich and Tuna Melt, but I didn’t get to try the Tuna Melt although I’ve heard.
Of course a New York culinary experience is never complete without one real pastrami sandwich experience, but when it comes to Follow Me Foodie in New York, it’s never complete without at least 2. I already tried the most famous Katz’s Deli earlier on in the trip, but I have a real issue with letting one place represent the benchmark for what a pastrami sandwich should taste like. I mean how do I know how good something is if I’ve never tried it anywhere else and have nothing to compare to?
I felt the same way about New York Pizza (see Lombardi’s Pizza VS Grimaldi’s Pizza), ramen in New York (see Momofuku Noodle Bar VS Ippudo), Montreal Bagels (see St. Viateur Bagel VS Fairmont Bagel), Montreal Poutine (see Montreal Poutine VS La Banquise), Montreal Smoked Meat (see Shwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen VS Deli Lester’s), and last but not least the Stollen Smackdown (possibly the most epic). Those are just some examples showing that more foodie research is never a bad thing!
New York is full of award winning delis that claim to have the city’s “best pastrami sandwich”. I asked a handful of trusted New York foodies some of their favourites and Eisenberg was one that came up often along with 2nd Ave Deli. I wouldn’t say Katz’s is the “tourist trap”, because I did really like it, but I just wanted one more example that was perhaps less typical. I wasn’t going to exhaust the whole “pastrami theme” with my limited time there, but I had to try at least 2.
Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop is a small deli in Manhattan and although it’s not considered as much of a New York institution as Katz’s Deli, it’s still worth a try. With photos of the owner Josh Konecky, and many celebrities all over the walls, the theme was reminiscent to Katz’s too. It recently had a makeover ever since Konecky took over so it doesn’t look as dated, but the history is still there.
I was on my way to watch a fashion show during New York Fashion Week, so I decided to contrast the day’s activities by eating for the models as well. Eisenberg’s was my appetizer and Shake Shack was my main. Pastrami sandwiches and New York’s favourite burgers for lunch? Yes please! They were pretty much walking distance apart so I might as well squish them together for a “more meat Monday” instead of a “meatless Monday”. It was really Monday when I came here too. I’m not a hardcore carnivore, but I do love my meats. Vegetables are always good too, but in this case my veggies were pickles from Eisenberg’s and fries from Shake Shack.
The saying for Eisenberg’s goes “Raising New York’s Cholesterol Since 1929” and you better believe it! I’m not sure if that’s something to be proud of, but that’s their traditional saying.
On the table:
- So this was it! This was what I came for. One of their “must try” items.
- Just to give a point of reference I’ve tried the pastrami at Katz’s Deli and the Montreal Smoked Meat at Schwartz’s, both considered “the best” in their respective categories and cities. They are quite similar, but not exactly the same. “The best” is always trivial in my opinion, so there could be better.
- I found this pastrami sandwich noticeably different from Katz’s Deli even just by looking at it.
- The pastrami was hand sliced upon order and served hot as it always should be.
- It came with an optional side of pickles which were much smaller than the ones from Katz’s.
- It was offered with a few options for the bread, but classically it should be a rye bread.
- Usually there is a thin slab of old fashioned yellow mustard on the slice of bread, but this one barely had any.
- The bread was a standard rye and the meat was stacked high which is key to a great pastrami.
- The slices were slightly thinner than Katz’s Deli and it didn’t taste as cured or salty, but it was still very flavourful and savoury with perhaps more spices.
- The pastrami was no doubt moist and juicy and you can see the oils sweating in the photo, but it was slightly chewy. It didn’t seem as melt in your mouth tender as the one at Katz’s.
- As you can see, the meat meant business. It was fatty. It had a rim of fat around the edges of the brisket which Katz’s did not.
- It almost reminded me of corned beef and it was quite peppery with a freshly cracked black pepper dry rub and other spices.
- The fat was still a bit chewy if I ate it alone, but it was more or less overlooked in the context of the sandwich as a whole.
- The meat seemed a bit more stringy rather than falling in pieces, but it could be due to the cut.
- It was an excellent pastrami sandwich and I would recommend it if you have room for one more pastrami experience outside of Katz’s Deli.
- Again, it could get better than both these places, but I didn’t have time to scope out the pastrami scene any further.