Who says you can't get a proper pastrami sandwich in the Bay Area? Granted, that's one of the things I miss most from days growing up in Jersey when my Dad would take us to the city for pastrami at Carnegie Deli . You have to hunt here but there are a few gems, besides classic Miller's East Coast Deli . P.S. I'm wishing Orson  would bring back its unparalleled pastrami and kraut pizza.
Long a sandwich favorite of mine, the Tenderloin's Morty's  keeps it real, East Coast style, with an array of sandwiches so good, it was no surprise when word eventually got out and the days of a quiet lunch here (I remember them) were long past. Though it's not open weekends, it's a worthy lunch destination (or regular stop for the Civic Center set), especially for their rockin' Reuben ($7.50), with pastrami, of course, sauerkraut, melting, oozy Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on rye. They even have a Soy Rueben ($6.75) if you can't do meat. It's not an unrealistically huge sandwich, and it's as comforting as it gets.
Mon-Thu, 8am-8pm; Fri 8am-6pm
280 Golden Gate, SF
Buttercup Grill takes a non-descript, 70's-looking diner in downtown Oakland and infuses it with home-cooked love, especially in decadent (and cheap - under $4 for most hefty slices) peanut butter pie or signature upside down apple pie... recipes of owner, Debbie Shahvar. As far as pastrami sandwiches go, they make a traditional version loaded with fragrant meat and the light crisp of toasted rye bread. Accompanying sides of coleslaw and potato salad make it one nostalgic East Coast meal.
229 Broadway, Oakl.
The Kitchen Table's kosher delight. Photo by Virginia Miller.
The Kitchen Table
I have some serious service and pricing issues with Mountain View’s The Kitchen Table (see my Perfect Spot write-up ). That being said, maybe you should order one to go next time you're down in the South Bay. The kosher, upscale restaurant does a pastrami ($12 plus $1-$6 for add-ons like sauerkraut or Fresno chilis) unlike the other two I listed. The meat is shaved paper-thin and you're about ready to balk at price vs. size. This is no authentic East Coast pastrami. But as the folds of meat melt in your mouth within house-made sourdough rye bread, you start to rethink the classic sandwich. Who knew pastrami could taste so light, even airy, yet blissfully meaty?
142 Castro Street, Mountain View
Visit Virginia's site: www.theperfectspotsf.com