Project pastrami: Searching for the best South Sound sandwich

Staff writerJanuary 24, 2014 

The Andres is a pastrami Reuben offered at Foley’s on the Green at Tacoma’s Meadow Park golf course.

PETER HALEY — Staff photographer

I relish readers who ask me to go looking for the perfect something or other.

In 2013, readers sent me searching for the crispiest fish and chips, sloppiest meatball sandwiches and cheesiest chile rellenos.

I start 2014 with a mighty mission: to find the perfect hot pastrami sandwich.

Tacoma reader Jack Green sent me his must-have list for a hot pastrami sandwich. His hallmarks mirror mine: a sandwich piled high with pastrami of the juicy variety, made purely of rye bread and meat, although a pickle and mustard are an occasional nice addition.

Around Tacoma, I had a tough time finding straightforward hot pastramis made to Green’s specifications requiring the most basic trifecta of pastrami and mustard on rye. That’s a sandwich you would easily find in other parts of this country, with or without add-ins such as Swiss, kraut, slaw or pickles.

I had far less trouble finding something here that might make East Coasters cringe: pastrami Reubens, a sandwich typically made with corned beef East of here. The difference between the meats is somewhat subtle – there seem to be as many methods for producing them as there are raindrops in Washington – but in general, pastrami is cured and smoked while corned beef is brined and steamed. In the end? They’re both delicious piles of brisket.

Today’s review – dedicated to Green – is a collection of the best pastrami sandwiches I could find broken into two categories: bare bones hot pastramis with simple additions of cheese, mustard or pickles, and some versions of a pastrami Reuben made with kraut, puckery dressing, melted Swiss and some other twist. I’ve also got honorable mentions.

I found feasting upon nine pastrami sandwiches in about a month was pushing my limit. I’m sure I missed some good ones. Have a favorite pastrami sandwich? Let News Tribune readers know. Call me at 253-597-8270 or email

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