It started with a craving for pastrami. So what else could I do but head towards the Kenny and Zuke’s Delicatessen in order to have a Kenny and Zuke’s Pastrami Brunch? I think a pastrami brunch sounds pretty good any time of year, but particularly in March, with St Patrick’s day looming, perhaps you will be even more persuaded. I’m not Irish at all, or into green beer, but with luck literally part of my name I thought this year it would be fun to do a few posts for the lucky holiday.
I have a very special place in my heart for Kenny and Zuke’s because of Nick Zukin, also known as ExtraMSG. When I was first thinking of moving to Portland, I relied on the ExtraMSG blog to find some places to eat rather than the selections that vegetarian F was providing which for the previous couple visits. Until that visit, my previous visits to Portland had left me unimpressed and that there was no way I would give up Chicago for Portland. The ExtraMSG recommendations and list helped me discover Andina, Wildwood, Higgins, Park Kitchen, all giving me a show of what Northwest and Portland food scene could offer.
It was a big thing to not just have to rely on a paragraph write-up in online review sites and publications- his website included bits of the stories to help differentiate and highlight the food and story behind each restaurant all in one place. And now I’ve been a Portlander for a little over 5 years. Without those dining discoveries, I might not have moved here with such a positive attitude- and I’ve been loving the Portland food scene ever since.
This blog is inspired by that memory of his blog and how it was a helpful reference to me. He doesn’t blog really anymore, more recently he is co-author of The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home cookbook and focused on his solo ventures of traditional Mexican via two outposts of Mi Mero Mole.
I should stop being sentimental, and return to the famous Portland pastrami. I don’t know if I have to really provide more than pictures here- the pastrami speaks for itself. I’ve sometime wished it could be a just a bit fattier, but it seems that is already underway per this Oregonian article. The pastrami is cured for 7 days, smoked 10 hours, steamed for 3 hours & hand-sliced to order.
Here’s a bit more on the pastrami by America’s Best Bites (and showcasing some of the wry humor of Ken, who also has taken a healthy turn and still loves food and writes about it in the Oregonian under >Diary of a Formerly Diabetic Chef).
By the way, this bagel sandwich, with or without the pastrami, is excellent. They also have a version of this in classic Reuben form of course, and also a breakfast version that is on rye and with Swiss cheese that even made the Portland Monthly list of best breakfast sandwiches in Portland. I bet looking at that article- and it’s multiple lists of breakfast sandwiches and photos- will make you crave a breakfast sandwich immediately. I still stand by ordering it in breakfast form with their really good bagels.
I happened to have possibly over-ordered since that Bagel and Egg and Cheese with Pastrami bagel (I picked an Everything bagel) is more than filling, but I was more than happy to be eating some more Pastrami Cheese fries reheated the next day. So go ahead and order it anyway no matter what else you are ordering!
Besides the Kenny and Zuke Deli downtown, there are two other locations, the Deli Bar in North Portland and Bagelworks in Northwest Portland. You can get the bagels and pastrami at all 3 locations, but I don’t believe Bagelworks offers the fries.
Have you had the signature Kenny and Zuke pastrami before? Do you like pastrami? Have you had other deli items at Kenny and Zuke’s- such as their bagels?