Flatiron Lunch: Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop Is Not Just Good For Their Sandwiches
Now that Downtown has its very own section of the site, what are we going to post on Fridays at 10am? Answer… how about a new column devoted to those lunches just south of the ML boundaries. Every week we’ll post about a lunch in Murray Hill south, Gramercy, Flatiron, and everything in between… or as we’ll call it from now on: Flatiron Lunch.
After seeing Danny’s pastrami sandwich last week, I found myself craving some classic Jewish deli fare. Now, I’ve been to 2nd Avenue Deli, which is closer to my office than the Flatiron District, but the prices stray far higher than the typical Midtown Lunch range, so I took advantage of a gorgeous day and walked down to Eisenberg’s.
It’s an old school counter joint that takes you back to old New York. Better, while it has a following, there aren’t nearly as many tourists as you’ll find at other old delis in town. Continuing to cater to lunchers instead of tourists may be why the prices at Eisenberg’s are still reasonable compared to so many of the others.
See the food you get for your money after the jump.
I started off with a vanilla egg cream poured from the old soda pump, then went for something even more old school.
Tongue sandwich on rye is one of those things that you can’t get in too many other places around town (taco trucks not withstanding.) The tongue was sliced thin, then piled high, leaving layer upon layer of meltingly soft meat in each bite. I smeared a bit of mustard on the rye to add a little spice to the mix.
For those turned off by a food that can taste you back, the pastrami is also very good. Katz’s will always be my all-time favorite, but Eisenberg’s is definitely worth it, especially since it’s only $8.50 for a sandwich.
Eisenberg’s has a good approach to taking on its more famous rivals uptown and downtown: it doesn’t. The sandwiches here fit in your hands and can be eaten without unhinging your jaw. They aren’t piled high with meat, but there’s still plenty there. They are typically crisped up in a sandwich press, leaving the edges and often some of the meat with a mixed texture. There’s some crunch on the outside and tender, juicy meat inside.
As I was finishing up my sandwich, one of the signs up on the wall caught my eye. Eisenberg’s also sells empanadas. This seems a little weird, but also appropriate given that, besides Josh Konecky, the owner (and mascot), pretty much everyone behind the counter was Latino. Without getting into my own immigration tangent, suffice it to say that it seemed natural that there was a little representation on the menu.
Even better, it turns out that some of them are filled with pastrami! Awesome. I got one to take with me for an afternoon snack (which I ate as soon as I got back to the office). The crust is fried and blistered, both crunchy on the outside with a softer layer of chewy pasty inside. I’ll admit that it’s more than a little greasy, but the reward of chopped pastrami inside was worth losing another day or two off my life. On the side was a garlicky chimichurri that was tasty if stronger than it needed to be. Best to avoid if you plan to spend any time talking to co-workers for the rest of the day.
Of the classic delis in the city that I’ve been to, Eisenberg’s offers the best value for for what you get and still has that great old New York feeling that reminds me of the city when I was growing up. The other places may have fattier, juicier cuts and sandwiches bigger than your head, but you pay a premium for it, not just in money, but in the soul-crushing proximity to clueless tourists.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I love rubbing elbows with fellow lunchers at an old school counter.
- It’s the best pastrami I’m going to get for $8.50 and the only tongue I can get for $9.
- Empanadas. Filled with pastrami. I’m there.
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Dude, why isn’t this sandwich the size of my head? Ripoff!
- I’m pretty sure this place wasn’t in When Harry Met Sally.
- I can get tastier cuts from the other places and I’m willing to spend twice as much for it.
Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop, 174 5th Avenue (at 22nd Street). 212-675-5096