Sick of Turkey? Try Berger’s Pastrami Sandwich: Apparently It’s New York’s Best

If any of you happened to host a Thanksgiving Dinner at your house last week, I’m willing to bet money you had a shit-ton of leftovers, and you’re getting sick of turkey. I know I am. I thought this would be a good opportunity to highlight Berger’s. It’s flown under the radar of Midtown Lunch for years — probably because it can easily fall into the category of generic deli.

A few weeks ago, I was in the mood for pastrami. I hadn’t had pastrami in Midtown since I tried Marky Ramone’s Cruisin’ Kitchen back in June, so I went to Yelp and searched for pastrami in the area near my office. What popped up was “Berger’s”, which boasts New York’s best pastrami sandwich. Of course, I haven’t tried every pastrami sandwich in New York City, but I assumed Katz’s (which I also haven’t gotten around to trying) is heralded as the best.

According to Berger’s, this is not so.

Although I always doubt any restaurant in NYC that touts it’s (insert food item here) is the best, I always figure if they make this outrageous claim they at least need to have a decent (insert food item here). So, I made my way to Berger’s, a deli that’s been around for 60 years… and a place I’ve walked by many times without noticing. I was really looking forward to stuffing my face with salted meat.

Here’s what I found out: Berger’s serves up a nice, big pastrami sandwich with a ton of meat, but because it’s nearly $10 it’s right on the brink of no longer being a Midtown Lunch. When I walked in, I was greeted by very friendly folks making sandwiches, and I ordered a pastrami with mustard and pickles.

They sliced up pickles they normally put on the side of sandwiches and slapped it on fresh rye bread. The pastrami was generously piled on and warm, which was somewhat odd juxtaposed with the coldish, soft slices of bread. The mustard and pickles gave just the right amount of acidity to balance the salty pastrami and the rye flavor. The sandwich came with a pickle spear and some boring coleslaw on the side.

Was this the best pastrami sandwich I’ve ever had? No — my favorite pastrami is served up at a chain called The Hat that has locations in the Los Angeles area. Is it the best I’ve had in New York City? I have to say, yes. So far it is. But I haven’t exactly gone out and done a scientific study on it yet. I have a feeling that Midtown Lunchers will like this sandwich, but might be upset with it’s price — even though it’s a pretty big sandwich, it came out to be about $9.50 with tax. I’m sure there are better deals to be had.

Midtown Lunchers, does anyone know of a better deal on pastrami sandwiches in Midtown? There are so many delis gracing our presence, I’m sure there’s a joint that serves up a delicious pastrami for less. Any ideas?

Berger’s, 2 East 39th Street, (212) 719-4173


  • >Delicious

    Choose any two.

    • User has not uploaded an avatar

      There’s tons of delicious cheap pastrami out there… but you have to go to Montreal to get it. Every corner shop has amazing smoked meat. Not so here in NYC.

  • Until you’re eaten at Katz’s, you’re not qualified to judge pastrami.

    • Of course I meant “you’ve eaten”, not “you’re eaten”. I hope this doesn’t distract from the vitriolic tone of my post.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Wow, if I was a food blogger in NYC I would be positively embarrassed to admit I hadn’t tried the iconic spots in the city. Get yourself to Katz’s. While you’re there, pick up some knishes at Yonah Schimmels and some bagels, cream cheese, and fish at Russ & Daughters. (Personally, I love their caviar cream cheese best.)

  • You lost me when you ordered pickles on your pastrami.

    • User has not uploaded an avatar

      My grandfather was a stereotypical old jewish man and he liked pickles on his corned-beef sandwich. It’s unusual, but not blasphemous like cheese or mayo.

  • The Hat RULES! YES! Props to The Hat!

  • Certe has a nice hot pastrami sandwich — just had one last week.

  • Ben’s on 38th has a decent pastrami. Sadly, 2 of my favorites – 2nd Ave. deli and Kaplan’s – are both long out of business.

    • User has not uploaded an avatar

      2nd ave deli is back in business on 33rd and 3rd. Its pastrami never compared to Katz’s, though I do prefer their corned beef.

      • And it’s also at 75th and 1st (way out of bounds, but then the OP lamented an OOB location), across the street from the other Pony Bar.

        I don’t think this thread will devolve into who has the best pastrami, unlike cheesesteak threads.

      • User has not uploaded an avatar

        Best cheesesteak in NY is Shorty’s. Carls and 99 miles etc aren’t even close.

        Same deal with Katz’s– nothing in Manhattan even approaches it. Once you start including the boroughs there are a lot more choices with David’s Brisket, Ben’s Best, etc.

      • Oh, don’t you start.

      • I was at David’s new location the other night and I can confirm that the pastrami is amazing. However, the floors of that establishment were precariously slick with some kind of grease so it was a little uninviting.

        Nice guy running the place too. Maybe too nice. I made a joke about two guys fighting over a pickle but it went over the owner/chef’s(?) head. ah well. penis

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I eat at Berger’s every other week or so. The hot food specials are generally very good for a deli offering, and as far as old-school home-made goes, their roast beef and shrimp salad are standouts.

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