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.

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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.

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I started off with a vanilla egg cream poured from the old soda pump, then went for something even more old school.

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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.

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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.

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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


  • “I’m pretty sure this place wasn’t in When Harry Met Sally.”

    c’mon Clay, you’re better than that.

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    i went there earlier this week (sweet! im ahead of the game today!) and wasnt really impressed. i got the fried salami on whole wheat and thats all, no side, no pickle, no secret sauce or special anything, just a plain old sandwich with just your choice of getting it with lettuce and tomato or not. true the sandwich is not the size of your head but its just regular slices of bread that have been toasted, im not really sure i can call that value.

    but the drinks! had a lime rickey, it was awesome! and the reviewer here had an egg cream? how old is that? i never even knew they made those in real life, i may have to go back just to try it and see what its like lol.

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      Real egg creams are impossible to make with modern soda fountains. It depended on mixing the syrup with the milk using the high intensity stream you got by pushing the handle back. Modern fountains do not have that high pressure thingie as far as I have seen. I note that in the picture he is making the egg cream in the correct way by running the final low intensity stream down the back of a spoon.

  • love the vignetting(is that the correct term?) on these pics.

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    “For those turned off by a food that can taste you back” haha

  • vignetting?….isn’t a bloody word.

    like the merle collie tho

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    I don’t get this place. I live very close, I WANTED to like it so much, reminds me of the comfort food I had growing up. I’ve been several times, gave it several chances, but I’ve come to the conclusion that this place really sucks.

    Matzoh ball soup – salty like seawater with matzo balls more like tasteless paste balls my toddler makes at school. Brought it home, threw it out.

    The corned beef was dry like a cracker, flat and flavorless. And scant … a teeny sammich.

    The place – the “old school” thing wears off real easy when you figure out it’s just dirty and gross everywhere, not quite a relic, but more of a dump.

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    Geeze, I never realized that it is a deli. FotoCare and Calumet are around the corner on West 22nd Street and I often go to seminars and classes at one of them. I usually stop at Eisenberg’s for a toasted bagel and a DietCoke for breakfast. I do find that they are quite reasonably priced but I never thought that they had things like deli sandwiches. Since the people behind the counter and at the register are all Latino, it just never crossed my mind that I could get things like a pastrami sandwich there.

  • I had a very disappointing/underwhelming chopped liver sandwich from Eisenberg’s last year – FAIL!

  • I’m down with affordable sandwiches that taste good. Gotta remember this one next time Shake Shake is mobbed…

  • Cool. Pastrami empanada with chimicurri! I wonder for how much?

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    The tuna melt is really good.

  • Everyone knows tuna at E’s is awesome. Might have to try the pastrami empanada–who woulda thunk it? I refuse to order anything caused an “egg cream” because it is TOTALLY misnamed. I see “egg cream” and I want something yummy like eggnog, NOT some weak-ass carbonated chocolate milk. Sorry, egg cream is FAIL.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    dirtiest place i’ve ever eaten, and not in a charming way. food isnt that good either. the pastrami is subpar, tongue is good.

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