Three Bites: Elevated Pastrami Sandwiches

Marilyn HawkesJanuary 11, 2022
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Photography by Angelina Aragon
Photography by Angelina Aragon

Photography by Angelina Aragon

Valley chefs elevate the deli favorite with Wagyu beef and other rarified cuts.


36889 N. Tom Darlington Dr., Carefree
Pastrami came to this country by way of Romanian Jews who immigrated to New York in the late 1800s, using brine and smoke to preserve their briskets. Despite these humble roots, pastrami is known to do the Pygmalion thing from time to time. At Confluence, chef-owner Brandon Gauthier serves up a Wagyu beef pastrami sandwich ($18) that’s next level. “Wagyu has such a great depth of flavor, and it’s so tender,” Gauthier says of the richly marbled Japanese cattle breed. First, Gauthier spreads tangy house-made Thousand Island dressing infused with truffle ketchup on slices of toasted, butter-brushed Noble Bread Jewish deli rye, which he layers with molasses-rubbed Wagyu pastrami and nutty Gruyère cheese. The final layer: a mound of snappy Brussels sprouts coleslaw tossed with lemon juice and peppered with house-fermented Fresno chiles for a hint of heat. Enhance your experience with an order of crisp, salty french fries. It’s pure sandwich nirvana. 

Little Miss BBQ

Two Valley locations,
It’s a crying shame Little Miss BBQ serves brisket pastrami on Thursdays only, but preparation takes two-and-a-half weeks from start to finish, says owner and pit master Scott Holmes. The lengthy process includes curing, seasoning and then smoking prime brisket using pecan and white oak woods. The red-hued, pepper-crusted pastrami emerges from the smoker fall-apart tender with a sultry ribbon of fat throughout. The meat is so loaded with flavor that each peppery, clove- and coriander-laden bite fills your mouth with joy. Holmes sometimes makes close to 400 pounds of the stuff each week and often runs out. Little Miss BBQ offers pastrami brisket by the pound ($30) or the plate ($20.50), which comes with two sides (our pick: smoky ranch-style beans), a slice of white bread and pickles. You get barbecue sauce, too, but you won’t need it.

The Craftsman Cocktails + Kitchen

20469 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale
Craftsman chefs brought together a couple of old-school deli sandwiches – pastrami and Reuben – to create the restaurant’s swanky Wagyu pastrami sandwich ($20). “We combined our favorite elements of each one and built this luxurious melt-in-your-mouth experience,” says sous chef Samantha Gutierrez. To that end, Gutierrez stacks the thinly sliced pastrami – sourced from legendary Chicago deli wholesaler Tempesta – on a griddle-toasted Noble Bread rye bun slathered with house-blended caraway mustard. To make it Reuben-esque, she adds a layer of sauerkraut fashioned from green and red cabbage bathed in red wine vinegar. Gutierrez suggests pairing the sandwich with a Spellbinder pale ale from local Wren House Brewing Co. to cleanse the palate between bites. “It’s a pretty intense sandwich.”


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