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Rare Form’s pastrami sandwich

Would I step over other pastramis to get to this one?

Pastrami and an earthy Swiss on rye with a “special sauce” that almost certainly features dill
Pastrami and an earthy Swiss on rye with a “special sauce” that almost certainly features dill
Place

Rare Form Delicatessen

793 J Street, San Diego

Whenever I mouth off about what makes a good pastrami sandwich, somebody’s around to chime in about one restaurant’s in particular: Rare Form, Consortium Holdings’ take on a Jewish deli. Now, I’m almost as big a fan of CH restaurants as I am of pastrami itself. Underbelly’s ramen is a personal favorite. I constantly crave the mac and cheese from Soda & Swine. And I always recommend Ironside to friends looking for seafood served with panache. The point is, I’m surprised I haven’t already been to Rare Form since it opened a year ago.

The rare urban-looking San Diego restaurant

Let’s blame the ballpark. The location isn’t merely Petco adjacent, it’s one of those brick wall businesses lining the Park within the Park. I’m typically loath to venture into East Village for dinner due to parking concerns, even during the off-season. But it occurred to me one recent Monday night that the Padres were out of town, and most of the city was recovering from a long weekend.

I found parking without issue and walked into an empty dining room. Devoid of people, I should say, because the spot is decked out to the point I couldn’t decide what to look at first: walls consumed by portraiture of 19th-century gentlemen, distinguished library-like seating (complete with bankers lamps), indoor bocce courts….

Like many of the group’s restaurants, there’s no table service — you order at the counter. Normally this bugs me, but on a slow night, who cares? I asked a lot of questions about the menu even though I knew before I arrived that I’d be eating the Rare Form 44 pastrami sandwich.

Bocce with your deli sandwich, anyone?

Here’s the thing. For bread, rye has a strong flavor. Swiss cheese normally does not, but here they use earthy/musty Swiss, the kind a cheesehead could adore. And sauerkraut — well, that’s simply one of the sharpest tasting vegetable creations known to mankind.

Each of these contribute to this pastrami sandwich, along with a “special sauce” that I’m sure features dill. At its center, of course, is the pastrami. Rare Form’s pastrami is cut thick, nearly a quarter inch, like you might find at New York’s legendary pastrami destination, Katz’s Deli. In other words, these are thick cuts of pungent meat stacked on a sandwich comprised of richly flavored ingredients. Something’s got to give.

For me, it’s the sauerkraut. The salty vinegar pushes an already aggressive sandwich over the top. Don’t get me wrong — I ate that thing like there was no one watching and enjoyed it. But would I step over other pastramis to get to this one? No. Will I develop an unholy obsession about this CH dish like I have its tonkotsu broth or bacon mac? Not likely. But I will go back to try the porchetta. On a slow night.

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Pastrami and an earthy Swiss on rye with a “special sauce” that almost certainly features dill
Pastrami and an earthy Swiss on rye with a “special sauce” that almost certainly features dill
Place

Rare Form Delicatessen

793 J Street, San Diego

Whenever I mouth off about what makes a good pastrami sandwich, somebody’s around to chime in about one restaurant’s in particular: Rare Form, Consortium Holdings’ take on a Jewish deli. Now, I’m almost as big a fan of CH restaurants as I am of pastrami itself. Underbelly’s ramen is a personal favorite. I constantly crave the mac and cheese from Soda & Swine. And I always recommend Ironside to friends looking for seafood served with panache. The point is, I’m surprised I haven’t already been to Rare Form since it opened a year ago.

The rare urban-looking San Diego restaurant

Let’s blame the ballpark. The location isn’t merely Petco adjacent, it’s one of those brick wall businesses lining the Park within the Park. I’m typically loath to venture into East Village for dinner due to parking concerns, even during the off-season. But it occurred to me one recent Monday night that the Padres were out of town, and most of the city was recovering from a long weekend.

I found parking without issue and walked into an empty dining room. Devoid of people, I should say, because the spot is decked out to the point I couldn’t decide what to look at first: walls consumed by portraiture of 19th-century gentlemen, distinguished library-like seating (complete with bankers lamps), indoor bocce courts….

Like many of the group’s restaurants, there’s no table service — you order at the counter. Normally this bugs me, but on a slow night, who cares? I asked a lot of questions about the menu even though I knew before I arrived that I’d be eating the Rare Form 44 pastrami sandwich.

Bocce with your deli sandwich, anyone?

Here’s the thing. For bread, rye has a strong flavor. Swiss cheese normally does not, but here they use earthy/musty Swiss, the kind a cheesehead could adore. And sauerkraut — well, that’s simply one of the sharpest tasting vegetable creations known to mankind.

Each of these contribute to this pastrami sandwich, along with a “special sauce” that I’m sure features dill. At its center, of course, is the pastrami. Rare Form’s pastrami is cut thick, nearly a quarter inch, like you might find at New York’s legendary pastrami destination, Katz’s Deli. In other words, these are thick cuts of pungent meat stacked on a sandwich comprised of richly flavored ingredients. Something’s got to give.

For me, it’s the sauerkraut. The salty vinegar pushes an already aggressive sandwich over the top. Don’t get me wrong — I ate that thing like there was no one watching and enjoyed it. But would I step over other pastramis to get to this one? No. Will I develop an unholy obsession about this CH dish like I have its tonkotsu broth or bacon mac? Not likely. But I will go back to try the porchetta. On a slow night.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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