Must-Try NYC Pastrami Sandwiches Without the Line

Crack open a can of Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda and nosh on a pastrami sandwich, without waiting on a line that wraps around the block.

February 2, 2024

NYC's Best Pastrami Sandwiches – Hidden Gems, Local Tips, and Skipping the Line!

For travelers exploring NYC, we understand that every minute counts. Indulging in a truly exceptional pastrami sandwich from an old-school Jewish deli is a quintessential experience, especially for foodies. However, spending an excessive amount of time waiting in line can throw your entire day off course. In this guide, we've curated a list of top-notch pastrami spots that not only deliver on flavor but also let you savor the essence of New York without sacrificing precious time in lengthy queues.

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Ok … On to the list


A Taste of Katz’s / Visit Katz’s Deli During the Week

Katz’s Delicatessen in the Lower East Side is the go-to spot for NYC's best thick-cut pastrami, but the lines can get crazy, sometimes up to an hour. We get it, time is precious, especially on a quick NYC trip. If you must go to the OG spot, try weekdays and avoid the lunch rush—it helps cut the line down.

For a hassle-free pastrami fix, hit up Katz's outpost at Dekalb Market in Brooklyn, known as A Taste of Katz’s. Same great sandwich, less waiting around.

2nd Ave Deli

While the pastrami sandwiches at 2nd Ave Deli may not be as hefty as some others on the list, this spot stands out as one of the few authentic and kosher delis left in NYC, particularly near midtown. You might get slightly less sandwich for your money, but 2nd Ave Deli offers a genuine NYC deli experience that has become increasingly rare in Manhattan.

What also sets 2nd Ave Deli apart is the exceptional quality of their other Jewish NYC classics. If you're looking to enjoy matzo ball soup, chopped liver, or knishes alongside your sandwich, they serve some of the best in town.

Sarge’s Delicatessen & Diner

Debatably a hidden gem, Sarge’s sandwich packs just as much meat as Katz’s without the line. Close to the Empire State Building and slightly more authentic than Katz’s (though not as iconic), Sarge’s is a good pick for travelers who've tried Katz’s already or want a less "touristy” option. It’s also a great pick if you’re traveling with someone who prefers corned beef on their massive meat sandwich.

Pastrami Queen

Anthony Bourdain approved and with two extremely convenient locations on the Upper East and West Sides of Manhattan for museum lovers, Pastrami Queen stands as a top contender for the city's best thick-cut pastrami sandwich, giving Katz’s a run for its money. Despite being popular in its own right, Pastrami Queen doesn't attract the same lines as Katz’s, making it a practical choice for a quick afternoon lunch after a morning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Additionally, if you're visiting the Brooklyn Bridge and craving a NYC deli lunch experience, there's a new Pastrami Queen outlet in Time Out Market as of 2024.

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S&P Lunch

Once known as Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop, Court Street Grocers, a sandwich shop from Williamsburg, has taken over this small lunch counter spot near Madison Square Park, renaming it S&P Lunch while preserving its old-school charm. Although it may not provide the most authentic Jewish deli experience, S&P Lunch introduces modern twists to its menu, featuring items like The Lil’ Shonda (pastrami, egg, and cheese) and the Dinkleburger, which includes pastrami, Muenster cheese, and mustard sauce.

Mendy’s NYC

Once featured in Seinfeld (although that location has since closed), Mendy’s offers a kosher-certified mix of Jewish deli classics and Middle Eastern cuisine at its final two surviving locations—one near Midtown in Manhattan and the other in Brooklyn. While they don’t serve swordfish or salmon, Mendy’s does deliver delicious pastrami and matzo ball soup. As a nod to the famous episode, they even offer a soup and half-a-sandwich meal making this a fun stop for Seinfeld fans visiting NYC.


David's Brisket House

Don’t let the name fool you, the real star at David’s Brisket House in Bay Ridge is its delicious pastrami. This decades-old Jewish deli offers timeless dishes made with high-quality halal-certified meat, reflecting NYC’s one-of-a-kind mix of cultures. Honoring the traditions of its original owner, David, a Russian Jewish immigrant, the deli’s current owner has ensured that the next generation of immigrants in the area can enjoy Jewish lunchtime classics by preserving David’s traditional meat curing and smoking techniques.

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Frankel’s Delicatessen & Appetizing

Located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Frankel's offers a quick and rewarding experience. Any line that Frankel’s draws moves quickly, although seating can be limited, so be ready to take your sandwich to go. Despite its nostalgic throwback design, the deli is surprisingly new, having opened in 2016. Frankel's attention to detail extends to their homemade babka and black & white cookies, making for a fantastic dessert after indulging in salty pastrami.


Liebman's Delicatessen

Representing the Bronx in the NYC pastrami debate, Liebman’s Deli is a must-visit for those exploring The Met Cloisters or venturing into Yonkers. Another decades-old neighborhood standby, Liebman’s Deli is authentically kosher, offering thick-cut goodness on rye with ½ sour pickles. This is another place where you won’t want to overlook their other traditional deli delights, such as hotdogs, knishes, and latkes.

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