My Favorite Pastrami Sandwiches -- KENNY & ZIGGY'S - Houston, TX

Pastrami on Rye

Pastrami on Rye

After seeing the movie, Deli Man, I quickly scheduled a business trip to Houston to experience for myself what appeared to be a remarkable deli. My flight departed Los Angeles at 6:00AM and arrived in Houston 11:16 AM. I grabbed my carry-on luggage from the overhead compartment, headed for the airport exit and summoned an Uber car.  We arrived at Kenny & Ziggy's shortly after noon.  The hostess seated me at my table, and as I looked around the restaurant, I spotted the owner, Ziggy Gruber, seated at a table and engaged in conversation with customers   After ordering my pastrami sandwich, I let my server know that I wanted to speak with Ziggy.    I was about halfway through my sandwich when Ziggy came over, introduced himself, and took a seat across from me. I told him about my love for pastrami and that I hoped to feature his deli in an upcoming blog post.  He responded with hospitality that rivaled that of my grandmother.  First, he took me behind the deli counter to get a close up look at the pastrami still in the steamers.  He also insisted that I sample the chopped liver (which was to die for) and the rugalach.  

My experience was so good that I returned four more times on this trip.  One evening I ordered the stuffed cabbage with sides of kishka and noodle kugel.  All were excellent.  The next evening, I ordered a pastrami sandwich. While I was waiting for it to arrive, Ziggy sent over a plate full of delicious gribines.  I thought that my dinner was complete as I took the last bite of my sandwich, but Ziggy - in the tradition of my grandmother - insisted that I have some blintzes.   Again - all were excellent. 

Kenny & Ziggy's combines well prepared deli food with outstanding service and Ziggy's personality to create an outstanding deli experience.  I look forward to my next visit.  Kenny & Ziggy's New York Delicatessen Restaurant is located at 2327 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX - (713) 871-8883 - kennyandziggys.com

Chopped Liver   

Chopped Liver

 

Blintzes

Blintzes

Ziggy Gruber welcoming me to his deli.

Ziggy Gruber welcoming me to his deli.

Carolina Silva was my server.

Carolina Silva was my server.

My Favorite Pastrami Sandwiches- - LANGER'S RESTAURANT-DELICATESSEN - Los Angeles, CA

Pastrami on rye at langer's Deli

Pastrami on rye at langer's Deli

Shortly after the turn of the century I discovered pastrami.  Yes, I had previously seen it on deli menus and on party platters, and on occasion I had tasted it but always considered it nothing more than another variation of "deli meat."  For years I had heard about a deli in the heart of Los Angeles that served an excellent pastrami sandwich, but it wasn't until the early 2000s that I gave it a try.  One day I walked into Langer's Deli in Los Angeles and ordered the pastrami sandwich.  Upon taking my first bite, my view of the pastrami sandwich was forever changed.  This sandwich was a masterpiece of perfectly flavored, well steamed, hand carved slices of pastrami served on fresh rye bread, crusty on the outside and warm and soft on the inside.  It was clearly a culinary art form. This sandwich marked the beginning of my obsession with this traditional Jewish delicacy.  When I am in town I visit Langer's once or twice a week to enjoy my favorite sandwich.  Langer's Delicatessen-Restaurant is located at 704 South Alvarado St., Los Angeles, CA 90057  -  (213) 483-8050 - langersdeli.com .

When I travel out of town, my itinerary always includes visits to local delis so that I may try their pastrami sandwiches.   I have been to delis in many cities throughout the United States.  I have recently prepared a list of my favorite pastrami sandwiches and will soon be featuring each of my favorites as part of Michael's America: People, Places & Pastrami.

Chicago - February 23 - 25, 2016

Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower)


I recently had the opportunity to visit Chicago during the heart of the winter.    I took a short break from the 80+ degree winter days in Los Angeles, to brave the cold and snowy winter in Chicago.  Between business meetings, I bundled up and took to the streets with my trusty camera,  visiting some of my favorite and some new locations.  I made new acquaintances, dined at some of my traditional restaurants and experienced the cuisine of some new ones.  On this trip I was able to experience the breathtaking view of the city from the 103rd floor of Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower).


PEOPLE

Canada Dry, Milk & Snow

Pedestrians on Wabash Avenue

Bundled in Red

Who is texting me?

 

Pedestrians on Wabash Ave.

Crossing the street before the signal changes.

Flowers

Bundle up and stay warm.

Homeless man on the Michigan Ave. Bridge.

Homeless man at Millennium Park

Blessings

Please help.

Balanced

Chicago Police

This "Kiss" was on the elevator up to the Skydeck at Willis Tower.   The other passengers appear unaware of "the 103 Story Kiss>"

Doormen at the Sheraton Grand


PLACES

Star Spangled Banner

Trump & Wrigley

A Taxi Will Get You out of The Snow.

Wabash Avenue Bridge

Perspective

Airplane Flying Over Wacker Drive

Out of Service

Chicago French Market

Fire Escapes

Welcome to Willis Tower

Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower)

View From "The Ledge"

View From 103 Stories


PASTRAMI

Kaufman's Deli - Skokie, IL

My flight arrived at approximately 6AM.    That allowed enough time for me to deplane and head directly to the ground transportation area where I was picked up by an Uber car.   Timing was perfect as we arrived at Kaufman's Deli just in time for the 7AM opening.  I knew that my breakfast would start with Kaufman's homemade "Gefilte Fish."   It was absolutely outstanding.  My next course was a piece of "Pastrami Strudel." This delicacy is a pastry dough filled with thinly sliced pastrami, chopped vegetables and spices, and is served hot.  This very flavorful item was certainly a creative preparation of my favorite deli meat.   I look forward to my next visit during which I plan on having a "Pastrami Knish."  Kaufman's has been one of my long time favorites in the Chicago area.

Tuesday Morning at Kaufman's Deli

Gefilte Fish

Pastrami Strudel

Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen

A trip to Chicago would not be complete without a visit to Manny's to enjoy an overstuffed "Pastrami on Rye" with a "Potato Latke" (pancake) on the side.  

Any questions?

Pile the Pastrami High.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.

The Little Goat Diner

A newer addition to the Chicago restaurant scene is the Little Goat Diner, located in the trendy "West Loop" area.   As expected the diner has a very casual vibe.  The staff members that I encountered were warm, welcoming and accommodating.  The Little Goat serves innovative and intercultural variations of traditional diner fare.    I ordered a "Reuben Sandwich" - homemade smoked corned beef, kimchi, kraut, havarti and special sauce on pretzel rye.  It was an excellent sandwich.  As I looked around the dining room I saw many other guests enjoying a variety of appetizing creations.  I look forward to returning to try many other menu items. 

The Little Goat Diner

Welcome to The Little Goat Diner

Reuben Sandwich

 

Fumare Meats & Deli

On my return to the downtown area, not more than thirty minutes after having lunch at the Little Goat Diner, I encountered the entrance to the Chicago French Market.   I remembered that several years ago I heard about a deli in the Chicago French Market that served "Montreal-Style Pastrami." ( aka Montreal Smoked Meat).   I entered the market and within minutes located Fumare Meats & Deli.  Since I had just finished lunch and it was not yet time for dinner, I easily convinced myself that a "Montreal-Style Pastrami" sandwich would be a perfect dessert.   This homemade, hand-carved pastrami was outstanding.  I had the privilege of speaking with Joan McCracken, who along with her husband, Richard, own and operate this artisan deli.  There is no doubt that I will return to Fumare during my future visits to Chicago.

Fumare Meats & Deli

Fumare Meats & Deli

Montreal Style Pastrami

New York City

Lower Manhattan Skyline featuring One World Trade Center - 

Lower Manhattan Skyline featuring One World Trade Center - 

For decades I have been fascinated by the big city.  On a  typical visit to New York, I take the subway from JFK to my hotel in Manhattan, and with camera in hand I immediately immerse myself into this street photographer’s paradise.   New York City has it all.   It has the hustle and bustle of the business districts, the flavor of the neighborhoods, the majesty of the architecture and skylines, the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center and the Rockefeller Center, the landmarks, parks, museums and zoos,  the subways and buses, the street vendors and taxi drivers, cultural diversity and an extensive range of local and international cuisine.     And without question, New York is blessed with many excellent delis.


PEOPLE

A NEW FRIEND IN NEW YORK   

A NEW FRIEND IN NEW YORK

 

TWO SMILING YOUNG LADIES SERVING AN ICE CREAM CONE   

TWO SMILING YOUNG LADIES SERVING AN ICE CREAM CONE

 

SERVER AT BARNEY GREENGRASS DELI   

SERVER AT BARNEY GREENGRASS DELI

 

PRETZEL VENDOR   

PRETZEL VENDOR

 

HOT DOG VENDOR

HOT DOG VENDOR

NUTS   

NUTS

 

RAPPER AT TIMES SQUARE   

RAPPER AT TIMES SQUARE

 

TRADITIONAL BUSINESSMAN'S LUNCH   

TRADITIONAL BUSINESSMAN'S LUNCH

 

STREET VENDOR COUNTING THE CHANGE   

STREET VENDOR COUNTING THE CHANGE

 

RECYCLING   

RECYCLING

 

I SHARED MY PASTRAMI SANDWICH WITH THIS GENTLEMAN   

I SHARED MY PASTRAMI SANDWICH WITH THIS GENTLEMAN

 

ICE SKATING AT BRYANT PARK   

ICE SKATING AT BRYANT PARK

 

IN A SHOP AT BRYANT PARK   

IN A SHOP AT BRYANT PARK

 

STUFFED ANIMALS   

STUFFED ANIMALS

 

COLORFUL ATTIRE   

COLORFUL ATTIRE

 

IT IS IMPORTANT TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE LESS FORTUNATE   

IT IS IMPORTANT TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE LESS FORTUNATE

 

OUTSIDE THE COFFEE SHOP   

OUTSIDE THE COFFEE SHOP

 

ORCHIDS   

ORCHIDS

 

GREAT CONVERSATION WITH THIS GENTLEMAN ON HOUSTON STREET   

GREAT CONVERSATION WITH THIS GENTLEMAN ON HOUSTON STREET

 

NO RESERVATIONS NEEDED   

NO RESERVATIONS NEEDED

 

EXPIRED PARKING METER   

EXPIRED PARKING METER

 

WATCH YOUR STEP AS YOU EXIT THE SUBWAY TRAIN.   

WATCH YOUR STEP AS YOU EXIT THE SUBWAY TRAIN.

 

NEXT STOP

NEXT STOP

ON THE WAY DOWNTOWN   

ON THE WAY DOWNTOWN

 

MOTHERHOOD   

MOTHERHOOD

 

LUNCH BREAK   

LUNCH BREAK

 

HAPPY TO SEE YOU   

HAPPY TO SEE YOU

 

I HOPE TO SEE YOU AGAIN SOON   

I HOPE TO SEE YOU AGAIN SOON

 

EVEN A DOG NEEDS AN OCCASIONAL SPA TREATMENT   

EVEN A DOG NEEDS AN OCCASIONAL SPA TREATMENT

 


PLACES

VIEW TO THE SOUTH FROM ROCKEFELLER CENTER

 

VIEW TO THE NORTH FROM ROCKEFELLER CENTER

 

CEMETERY   

CEMETERY

 

    

 

 

COLUMBUS CIRCLE   

COLUMBUS CIRCLE

 

ROCKEFELLER CENTER      

ROCKEFELLER CENTER

 

 

SHRINE CHURCH OF ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA

SHRINE CHURCH OF ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA

SUBWAY   

SUBWAY

 

BEHIND THE SCENES   

BEHIND THE SCENES

 

TAXIS AT THE STARTING LINE   

TAXIS AT THE STARTING LINE

 

TIMES SQUARE   

TIMES SQUARE

 

EMPIRE STATE BUILDING   

EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

 

GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL   

GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL

 

MANHATTAN SKYLINE   

MANHATTAN SKYLINE

 


PASTRAMI

2nd Ave. Deli

I have visited 2nd Ave. Deli on a number of occasions.  It is always a great spot for an outstanding deli meal.  On this visit I was greeted by Steve Cohen, the manager.  I have enjoyed many of their delicious menu items, including chicken soup, chopped liver, gefilte fish and, of course, pastrami on rye.

SECOND AVE. DELI - 33RD STREET LOCATION   

SECOND AVE. DELI - 33RD STREET LOCATION

 

STEVE COHEN - MANAGER   

STEVE COHEN - MANAGER

 

PASTRAMI ON RYE   

PASTRAMI ON RYE

 

PICKLES AND COLE SLAW   

PICKLES AND COLE SLAW

 

 

Katz's Delicatessen

There are only a handful of delis at which pastrami is presented as nothing short of an art form.   Katz's Delicatessen, located at 205 East Houston Street,  is one of them.  Order a sandwich from the deli man at the counter and he will take the cut of pastrami right out of the steamer and hand carve the pastrami for your sandwich.  The slices of pastrami are stacked high on rye bread, and the steam from the meat adds just the right touch of moisture to the bread.   On this visit I had the pleasure of speaking with Jake Dell, the third generation Dell family member in charge of Katz's Delicatessen.    A trip to New York is incomplete without a stop at Katz's for an outstanding pastrami sandwich. 

KATZ'S DELICATESSEN AT THE CORNER OF HOUSTON AND LUDLOW STREETS   

KATZ'S DELICATESSEN AT THE CORNER OF HOUSTON AND LUDLOW STREETS

 

JAKE DELL   

JAKE DELL

 

DELI MAN, ELI, HOLDING A PIECE OF PASTRAMI JUST TAKEN FROM THE STEAMER

DELI MAN, ELI, HOLDING A PIECE OF PASTRAMI JUST TAKEN FROM THE STEAMER

HAND CARVING THE PASTRAMI   

HAND CARVING THE PASTRAMI

 

PASTRAMI ON RYE   

PASTRAMI ON RYE

 

ANOTHER VIEW OF PASTRAMI ON RYE

ANOTHER VIEW OF PASTRAMI ON RYE

 

Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery

After having a sandwich at Katz's it was time for dessert. So I walked just a block or two west to Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery, located at 137 East Houston Street. I had - you guessed it - a potato knish, served to me by Yonah's great nephew and manager, Alex Wolfman. The knishes are baked in the basement and brought up to the store level by a dumbwaiter.   It is my understanding that this "institution" has the same decor as it did in 1910 when it opened at this location.   

YONAH SCHIMMEL'S KNISH BAKERY (Notice the misspelling in the sign.)   

YONAH SCHIMMEL'S KNISH BAKERY (Notice the misspelling in the sign.)

 

THE SIGN THAT HANGS ABOVE THE DUMBWAITER   

THE SIGN THAT HANGS ABOVE THE DUMBWAITER

 

ALEX WOLFMAN CARRYING A TRAY OF FRESH KNISHES

ALEX WOLFMAN CARRYING A TRAY OF FRESH KNISHES

THIS KNISH LOOKS GOOD   

THIS KNISH LOOKS GOOD

 

TWO TRAYS OF KNISHES RIGHT OUT OF THE OVEN   

TWO TRAYS OF KNISHES RIGHT OUT OF THE OVEN

 

 

Mile End Delicatessen

Not more than an hour after leaving Yonah Schimmel's, I received a text from my friend, Seth Front,  creator of the Jewish Zodiac.  He insisted that I visit the Mile End Delicatessen and have Montreal style "smoked meat," a north of the border variation of pastrami.   I immediately headed directly to Mile End's Manhattan location.  As this was the first time I experienced "smoked meat," my server, a very upbeat and enthusiastic young lady, suggested that I have a sandwich with both the leaner and fattier cuts of meat.  This delicious "smoked meat" sandwich was a perfect follow up to my "pastrami & knish" lunch and a perfect mid-afternoon snack before my Italian dinner.

MILE END DELICATESSEN - MANHATTAN   

MILE END DELICATESSEN - MANHATTAN

 

TYPICAL OF AN ARTISAN DELI, MILE END DELICATESSEN HAS A LIMITED MENU

TYPICAL OF AN ARTISAN DELI, MILE END DELICATESSEN HAS A LIMITED MENU

MONTREAL STYLE "SMOKED MEAT" ON RYE   

MONTREAL STYLE "SMOKED MEAT" ON RYE

 

Rediscovering Chicago

Cloud Gate, commonly known as "the Bean," is located in MILLENnIUM Park. 

About 15 years ago I rediscovered the charm of my birthplace, Chicago, IL.  The city, populated by warm and welcoming Midwesterners, has stunning architecture, a beautiful lakefront skyline, a downtown area that is vibrant, and has a wealth of excellent restaurants.   Delis, although not as abundant as in New York or Los Angeles, have a character of their own. During each of my 6 or 7 visits a year I have the opportunity to meet  many new friends from all walks of life - business & professional, shopkeepers, students, educators, working people and homeless individuals.   And on each visit I am often joined by friends, family and colleagues at Chicago's most popular deli's to enjoy my most favorite deli food - pastrami.


PEOPLE

Stret musicians on the Michigan avenue bridge

Stret musicians on the Michigan avenue bridge

Street musician on Michigan Avenue

Street musician on Michigan Avenue

street musician on lake st.

street musician on lake st.

happy couple on wabash st.

happy couple on wabash st.

Senior citizens

Senior citizens

Bar tender at pizano's pizza & pasta

Bar tender at pizano's pizza & pasta

Bride and groom photo shoot

Bride and groom photo shoot

Mayor Rahm Emanuel at eleven city diner

Mayor Rahm Emanuel at eleven city diner

gelato servers at eataly

gelato servers at eataly

Pizza server at eataly

Pizza server at eataly

Visitors from denmark

Visitors from denmark

Braving the snow on north wabash st.

Braving the snow on north wabash st.

Braving the snow and sleet  

Braving the snow and sleet  

Man's best friend

Man's best friend


PLACES

This was my home from age 7 through age 18.      

This was my home from age 7 through age 18.

 

 

Excursion boat on the chicago river

Excursion boat on the chicago river

chicago river - trump tower on the left and wrigley building ahead

chicago river - trump tower on the left and wrigley building ahead

Snowfall 

Snowfall 

Snowfall - clybourn AVe.

Snowfall - clybourn AVe.

Trees in MILLENNIUM park

Trees in MILLENNIUM park

The Crown Fountain

The Crown Fountain

Trump Tower

Trump Tower

Chicago River - Marina City on the right

Chicago River - Marina City on the right


PASTRAMI

One of my more recent discoveries is Eleven City Diner, located at 1112 South Wabash Ave.  This restaurant has the vibe of both a diner and a deli.  On a recent visit I was greeted by Roz Rubin, the proud mother of the owner, Brad Rubin.  I have had the opportunity to enjoy a number of their delicious menu offerings including pastrami.     

Pastrami sandwich at eleven city diner

Pastrami sandwich at eleven city diner


Although it is hard to believe, I sometimes order a menu item other than pastrami.   Here is an outstanding selection at the Bagel Restaurant and Deli located in the Old Orchard Shopping Center in Skokie, IL.    This is "Polish Style Fish" - smoked whitefish stuffed with gefilte fish in a tasty broth smothered with carrots and onions.   Outstanding!

"Polish style fish" at the Bagel restaurant & deli

"Polish style fish" at the Bagel restaurant & deli


One of my all time favorites in Chicago is Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen , located at 1141 S. Jefferson St.   Their food is served cafeteria style and the menu includes a wide selection of deli items, including overstuffed sandwiches accompanied by a potato latke.   Manny's is family owned, and diners are often greeted by the owner, Ken Raskin, and his son Dan.   A trip to Chicago is incomplete without at least one visit to Manny's.

Preparing a pastrami sandwich at Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen

Preparing a pastrami sandwich at Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen

Pastrami sandwich with a potato latke - Manny's Cafeteria &  delicatessen

Pastrami sandwich with a potato latke - Manny's Cafeteria &

delicatessen

Welcome!

Brownie Hawkeye

When I was 8 years old my father and mother gave me a camera, a Brownie Hawkeye.   I loved it.  I began to photograph everything that I could, family, friends, my neighborhood and the city. If it could put a smile on someone’s face, I photographed it.  The camera rarely left my hands.  Over the years my passion for photography grew, as did my passion for the culture of the city and for great food.  My career as an educator and forensic expert has given me the opportunity to travel around the country and expand my photographic horizons.   I thrill in taking to the streets with my camera, shooting from the hip, meeting new people, and exploring our country’s great cities.   

“People, Places & Pastrami” will be a photographic journal of my travels.   It will feature my favorite cities, introduce people from all walks of life whom I have met along the way, and share the featured foods served my favorite eating establishments, particularly Jewish delis.  

I welcome you to “Michael’s America: People, Places & Pastrami.”

                                                             Michael G. Kaplan