The Pastrami Rueben – Greatest sandwich of all time?

Welcome to our exploration of the iconic Pastrami Rueben sandwich, a mouthwatering combination of pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, all sandwiched between slices of rye bread. In this article, we will delve into the rich history, unique ingredients, and undeniable allure of this beloved delicacy. As an expert in the field, I invite you to join me on this delectable journey as we unravel the secrets behind what many consider to be the greatest sandwich of all time.

The History of the Pastrami Rueben Sandwich

The origins of the Pastrami Rueben sandwich are shrouded in mystery, much like the allure that surrounds it. While several theories exist, the prevailing belief is that this culinary masterpiece was born in the United States in the early 20th century.

One popular account traces the sandwich’s creation back to Arnold Reuben, the German-American owner of the renowned Reuben’s Delicatessen in New York City. Legend has it that during a late-night poker game, Reuben concocted this heavenly combination to satisfy the hunger pangs of a famished player. From that fateful night, the Pastrami Rueben sandwich became an instant hit, gaining popularity among locals and visitors alike.

Another theory points to the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska, claiming that the sandwich was invented by Reuben Kulakofsky, a local grocer. It is said that he frequently served this delectable creation to his poker buddies, and its reputation spread like wildfire. Soon, other establishments began adding their own twist to the recipe, leading to various interpretations of the timeless classic we know today.

Regardless of its exact origins, the Pastrami Rueben sandwich quickly developed a cult following across the United States, captivating the taste buds of countless sandwich enthusiasts. Its rise to fame was also fueled by its appearance on the menu of countless delicatessens and restaurants, solidifying its status as a beloved staple of American cuisine.

A key component of the Pastrami Rueben sandwich’s success is undoubtedly its unique combination of flavors. The succulent pastrami, with its subtly smoky and peppery notes, provides a perfect contrast to the tangy sauerkraut and creamy Russian dressing. The nuttiness of Swiss cheese brings a delightful richness to the ensemble, while the choice of rye bread adds a hearty and robust texture.

Join me as we continue our exploration of the Pastrami Rueben sandwich, where we will unravel the secrets behind its mouthwatering ingredients, the best methods to build the perfect sandwich, and why it has stood the test of time as one of the greatest culinary creations ever.

A pastrami rueben on seeded rye with pickles and potato chips

Recipe for the perfect Pastrami Rueben Sandwich

As a seasoned sandwich expert, I am here to guide you on how to create the ultimate Pastrami Rueben Sandwich. The combination of tender pastrami, tangy sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing all nestled between slices of rye bread makes this sandwich a true favorite. So, let’s get started on making this mouthwatering creation!


  • 8-10 slices of quality pastrami
  • 4 slices of rye bread
  • 1 cup sauerkraut (drained and squeezed to remove excess liquid)
  • 4 slices of Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup Russian dressing
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Start by choosing the best quality pastrami you can find. Look for slices that are well-marbled and have a rich, smoky aroma. The thickness of the slices is a matter of personal preference, but aim for something around 1/4 inch.
  2. Next, select a traditional rye bread to serve as the foundation of your sandwich. The bread should be hearty and flavorful, with a slightly dense texture. Freshly baked bread from a local bakery is always a great choice.
  3. Once you have your ingredients ready, it’s time to assemble the sandwich. Begin by spreading a generous amount of Russian dressing on one side of each slice of rye bread. Russian dressing is a key element of the Rueben, so don’t skimp on it!
  4. Layer the pastrami slices on top of one slice of bread, making sure to distribute them evenly. Season the pastrami with a pinch of salt and pepper to enhance the flavors.
  5. Next, add a layer of sauerkraut on top of the pastrami. Make sure to squeeze out any excess liquid from the sauerkraut beforehand, as a soggy sandwich is never desirable.
  6. Now, it’s time to add the Swiss cheese. Place the cheese slices on top of the sauerkraut, ensuring even coverage. Swiss cheese provides a creamy and slightly nutty taste that complements the other ingredients beautifully.
  7. Bring the other slice of bread with the Russian dressing and place it on top, creating a sandwich. Press it gently together to secure the ingredients, but be careful not to squish them too much, as you still want a nice bite.
  8. Spread a thin layer of butter on the outer surfaces of the rye bread. This will help achieve a crispy and golden-brown finish when grilling the sandwich.
  9. Heat a skillet or pan over medium heat and place the assembled sandwich onto it. Cook for approximately 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the cheese is melted, and the bread is nicely toasted.
  10. Once done, remove the Pastrami Rueben Sandwich from the pan, and let it rest for a minute before cutting it in half diagonally.
  11. Serve your masterpiece with a side of pickles or a classic deli coleslaw for the perfect deli-style experience.

Now that you have the secret recipe, go ahead and impress your friends and family with a delectable Pastrami Rueben Sandwich that will make them come back for more!

Pastrami Rueben Sandwich

Different Variations of the Pastrami Rueben Sandwich

The Pastrami Rueben Sandwich is a beloved classic that has been adapted and modified in various ways to suit different tastes. While the traditional version usually consists of pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye bread, there are several variations worth exploring.

1. Turkey Rueben: For those who prefer a lighter option, turkey can replace the pastrami while still offering a similar flavor profile.

2. Vegetarian Rueben: Vegetarians and vegans can enjoy a Rueben sandwich by replacing the meat with veggies such as grilled portobello mushrooms, roasted eggplant, or seitan to mimic the texture and taste of pastrami.

3. Rachel Sandwich: A twist on the classic Rueben, the Rachel Sandwich substitutes pastrami with corned beef or turkey, and swaps out the sauerkraut for coleslaw. This variation adds a slightly different flavor and texture to the sandwich.

Best Locations for Pastrami Rueben Sandwich

The Pastrami Rueben Sandwich has become a staple offering on the menus of many delis, diners, and sandwich joints. However, some establishments have gained a reputation for serving exceptional versions of this sandwich. Some notable places where one might find the best Pastrami Rueben Sandwich include:

1. Katz’s Delicatessen (New York, USA): Known for their towering sandwiches filled with perfectly seasoned and tender pastrami, Katz’s has garnered a reputation as one of the best places to enjoy a Pastrami Rueben.

2. The Pickle Barrel (Canada): This Canadian deli is often lauded for its generous portion of pastrami, paired with tangy sauerkraut and creamy Swiss cheese, making for an unforgettable Pastrami Rueben experience.

3. Max’s Restaurant & Bar (California, USA): Located in San Francisco, Max’s offers a flavorful Pastrami Rueben piled high with their signature smoked pastrami, ensuring a delicious and satisfying meal.

Popularity, Drink, and Side Dish Pairings

The Pastrami Rueben Sandwich has gained immense popularity worldwide due to its delicious combination of flavors and textures. Its unique blend of pastrami, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing is cherished by food enthusiasts everywhere.

When it comes to drink pairings, the Pastrami Rueben goes well with traditional options like an ice-cold cola, root beer, or a classic deli pickle brine. For those who prefer alcoholic beverages, a crisp lager, a hoppy IPA, or even a glass of red wine can complement the sandwich nicely.

As for side dish pairings, common choices include potato chips, french fries, or a simple side salad. However, some establishments also offer unique sides like sweet potato fries, coleslaw, or even a cup of tangy dill pickle soup to enhance the overall meal experience.

Specific Time and Holiday Enjoyment

The Pastrami Rueben Sandwich is enjoyed throughout the year and is not tied to any specific time or holiday. However, it has become a common choice for lunch or dinner, as well as a popular option for casual get-togethers, picnics, or a quick bite on the go.

The Pastrami Rueben Sandwich’s enduring popularity lies in its harmonious combination of flavors and textures. With various adaptations available, such as turkey or vegetarian alternatives, it caters to a wide range of preferences. Whether enjoying it at renowned delis like Katz’s or local establishments that have perfected their own version, the Pastrami Rueben continues to be a beloved classic that can be paired with various drinks and side dishes. It has transcended specific times or holidays, becoming a go-to choice for a satisfying meal any time of the year.

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