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March 6, 2009 6:43 AM

Reuben sandwich round-up: They stacked 'em, I downed 'em

Posted by Nancy Leson

Not too long ago, I posed the question: Where can you find a great Reuben? Of course, I knew my well-fed Eaters would come up with a world of answers, and you obliged, pointing out some of my favorites in the process. This month, in honor of the upcoming holiday (you know the one: corned beef, a pint or six 'o Guinness, songs like this classic about a well-known "Irishman"), I went out and knocked back a stack of Reubens. Here's the best of the lot. Yet I have to say, as a child weaned on East Coast deli-food, nothing compares to the sandwiches served at places like Jack's Delicatessen (whose charms I've discussed in print before), or New York icons like the Carnegie Deli, and Katz's -- immortalized in the minds of many thanks to this famous scene:

But locally, it's scenes like these that gave me, uh, pause:

This is one of the many reasons why "I Love New York Deli" in Pike Place Market

At I Love New York Deli, the meats are steamed, then sliced to order:

And they've got a wall of chips, including the ones I grew up eating: Wise Potato Chips:

Those are the Wise, in the blue snack-pack on the bottom, right

You can have a Yoo Hoo, which is "old hunger" for a lot of folks. Me? I always have a Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Soda (or Cel-Ray "Tonic" as I always call it). That's what I drink when I go to Goldbergs' in Factoria, which, as I said in the round-up, is the closest thing we've got to a "real" East Coast-style deli around here. In addition to the Dr. B.'s, they hook customers up with complimentary bowls of pickles, Kosher dills and half-sours, just like at a traditional deli-restaurant:

OK, so it's a tray of pickles, not a bowl, but you get the picture

At Goldbergs' (that's not a misplaced apostrophe by the way: the place is named after two guys, unrelated, both named Goldberg), they ask the age-old question:

And if you want some chopped liver to take home, they'll sell you that, too, along with some really good rye bread -- among other deli-fare:

Remember the original Roxy's? The sandwich counter that formerly shared space at CasCioppo Brothers, where "Pastrami King" Peter Glick used to make his own pastrami and hand-cut the meats for some killer sandwiches? Me too. And I still miss his Pastrambows, this Yiddisha mama's answer to the Chinese hombow. These days the Pastrami King has his face plastered to a wall in the heart of Fremont:

Behind that wall lies Glick's certified "diner". Like Goldbergs', it has a full bar -- just in case you'd rather have a beer or a Pickletini instead of a "Chawk-lit" egg cream like the one I enjoyed at the counter/bar, below:

In Seattle, the corned beef with the "name" is Market House: the stuff corned on the premises and sold both wholesale (to many of the city's better restaurants), retail (take some home and do-it-yourself!), or piled high on a sandwich for eating in or taking out. Fortunately -- or, perhaps unfortunately -- that corned beef and those Reubens are only a short walk from headquarters here at the Seattle Times. Maybe you've driven by and seen the storefront?

Inside, you'll find owner Vic Embry working the grill. Vic will set you up with a Reuben piping hot from his overworked grill:

Here's what you get at Market House for $7.95:

Such a bargain! -- cookie included

I've got to have a little chat here about the Reuben I ate, with a Manny's chaser, at the 74th Street Ale House (you can enjoy the same sandwich, as I have, at its siblings -- Queen Anne's Hilltop Ale House or the Columbia City Ale House):

That sandwich was amazing, thanks, in large part, to its considerable crunch. As you can see, it's a glorious golden brown. Butter? Yeah, baby. And the not-so-secret sauce had a little kick (Tabasco, I was told). As Jack Sprat's wife, I much prefer the schmaltzy piece of everything -- the fatty ends of a caramelized hunk of corned beef, say. So the use here of (forgive them, father, for they have sinned) lean Boar's Head corned beef would normally turn me off. But at the Ale Houses, where that lean beef is braised in beer till it's surprisingly tender, it just added a certain goyish charm. Plus, I loved the crunchy pickled red cabbage subbing for the kraut. A classic of the genre? Perhaps not. But -- Move over, Mrs. Murphy! -- I'll have what she's having.

Anyone else want to share their favorite Reuben spots? You're on!

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