California Pastrami & More – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The California Pastrami on Albuquerque’s Burgeoning West Side

During a 1997 episode of Seinfeld, the “show about nothing,” George Costanza and his girlfriend du jour discussed the possibility of incorporating food into their lovemaking–not as a post-coital meal, but in flagrante delicto. George listed as potential food candidates: strawberries, chocolate sauce, honey and…pastrami on rye with mustard. Yes, that’s pastrami on rye. His girlfriend, unfortunately, failed to appreciate the erotic qualities of pastrami and thus, their relationship terminated.

Ultimately George met up with a woman who echoed his sentiments when she declared pastrami to be “the most sensual of all the salted cured meats.” With that proclamation, their lustful appetites took over and they succumbed to the pastrami inspired throes of passion, albeit also incorporating television watching. It’s no wonder George Costanza’s face grew flush when he ate with friends at their favorite neighborhood diner; the association of food with pleasure became a sensual one.

This Could Be THE best Clam Chowder in New Mexico

I don’t know about pastrami being the most sensual of all salted cured meats (sounds like a bit of double entendre here), but do know there are few sandwiches quite as wonderful as a pastrami sandwich. Alas, not all pastrami is created equal. The perfect pastrami finds its genesis as brisket given a salt, sugar and spice rub, dry cured, smoked, and cooked. Having grown up in bucolic Northern New Mexico, I had no idea pastrami existed until the Air Force sent me to Massachusetts and I discovered pastrami at Steve’s House of Pizza in Bedford. It was love at first bite. For two years I visited delis throughout New England and New York City (including Katz’s Deli) in search of the best pastrami.

If you’ve ever wondered what the differences are between pastrami and corned beef aside from taste and texture. Pastrami comes from the naval area while corned beef emanates from the brisket area. Where pastrami is given a salt and spice rub, dry cured, smoked then cooked, corned beef is cured in brine. To me, the main difference is that pastrami is much better, but then, like George Costanza, I consider pastrami the most sensual of all salted, cured meats.

The “Classic” California Pastrami Sandwich

Since returning to New Mexico in 1995, I’ve lamented being short-changed insofar as Duke City restaurants or delis not offering a world-class pastrami product, not even close. Fortunately semi-frequent (every few years) trips to Chicago proved to be fulfilling pastrami pilgrimages. Most meat distributors serving New Mexico sell a processed pretender, pastrami “loaf.” I wanted the real thing–whole beef brisket with lots of marbling and heavy, briny seasoning.

Real pastrami is also what Joe Rodriguez wanted to bring to New Mexico. A California native now living in New Mexico, Rodriguez was raised on hot pastrami sandwiches and like dozens of us pastrami paramours, he couldn’t find good pastrami in New Mexico. Rodriguez offers the real stuff–well marbled, briny, highly seasoned and absolutely delicious. It’s comparable to pastrami I remember fondly in New York City and nearly as as good as my favorite pastrami in Chicago.

New York Style Pastrami on Rye

The rest of us are thrilled that he took it a step further and begin selling it at the New Mexico state fair during the fall of 2006. His success there convinced him there was a legitimate market of passionate pastrami fanatics like me. Rodriguez didn’t start off by selling his pastrami at some fancy storefront. He built a concession trailer and parked it on the corner of St. Francis Drive just as you turn into Alameda. The trailer was furnished with all he needed to prepare his product and was so portable, he took it to the state fair and balloon fiesta.

In November, 2009, Duke City pastrami aficionados no longer had to drive to Santa Fe to assuage their chile fix when Rodriguez launched California Pastrami on Alameda Boulevard. California Pastrami was in that location until January, 2011, its closure coinciding with the opening of a location at 6125 Montgomery, N.E. By year’s end, he had sold the concession trailer and closed the Santa Fe operation. Ever the entrepreneur, in 2017 he launched a second location on Coors Blvd on Albuquerque’s burgeoning west side.  In part because of the Covid crisis, the Montgomery location closed in September, 2020, leaving only the Coors location.

Pastrami Reuben

9 December 2012: Having lived on the East Coast and traveled extensively in the Golden State, the term “California pastrami” gave me nightmarish visions of pesto packed pastrami desecrated with sushi grade sashimi, artichoke and the designer vegetable de jour. Fortunately, as it turns out California (since renamed as the “Classic“) pastrami is served on a hoagie bun with yellow mustard and dill pickles (just as some grinder shops in Massachusetts sold it). Even better, this is an outstanding sandwich. It’s got the requisite marbling (for flavor) pastrami lovers crave and the addictive flavor profile that keeps us coming back for more.

Years ago, television and radio commercials for Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups introduced America to a catchy jingle which touted “two great tastes that taste great together” in describing the marriage of chocolate and peanut butter. Until my friend Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate, suggested it, I had not tried a pastrami sandwich with green chile–a marriage of California and New Mexico. Indeed these are two great tastes that taste great together. Green chile can improve almost everything, including desserts. California Pastrami doesn’t shy away from piquant chile; it’s got a tongue-tingling bite and a nice roasted flavor that complements the pastrami surprisingly well.

Pastrami Burger

20 March 2020: You can also get your pastrami sandwich Eastern style–on light New York-style rye sandwich bread with grainy mustard. Having tried both the “Classic” and “Eastern” style pastrami, I’m not ready to declare a preference. Both are terrific! Make that outstanding! The advantage the hoagie roll has over the rye bread is that it holds up better against the onslaught of juiciness from the fresh, delicious and utterly unctuous pastrami. The advantage of the Eastern-style pastrami sandwich at California Pastrami is that the rye is made on the premises.  While you won’t find the profession “baker” listed on Joe’s resume, he’s got serious rye-baking skills.  Pick up a loaf or six and you’ll never got back the store-bought stuff.

My friend and frequent dining companion Bill Resnik thought he had partaken of good pastrami during his years of travel and was skeptical when I first brought him to California Pastrami in January, 2010. He had no idea what a difference truly great pastrami can make, his previous experiences with pastrami being less than memorable. By mid-February, he had visited the restaurant at least once a week and as often as three times in one week. He’s hooked and has been every since. So are many other Duke City diners, many of whom participate in California Pastrami’s innovative rewards program.

Corned Beef Sandwich

20 May 2014: As for the “More” portion of the restaurant’s name, “more” includes burgers, sandwiches and burritos, some of which I may never try courtesy of pastrami George Costanza would have loved in both the temporal and the Biblical sense. It also includes corned beef and a number of burgers, including a pastrami burger. The pastrami burger is humongous, a generous amount of pastrami, a one-third pound ground beef patty with a slice of cheese, lettuce, pickle and mayonnaise on a sesame seed bun which struggles to contain all that flavor, all those ingredients. It’s a great burger!

9 December 2010: Pastrami and corned beef are often paired together in menus and in the hearts of sandwich aficionados. California Pastrami offers a very good corned beef sandwich stacked high on light rye bread with Swiss cheese and Russian dressing. As previously stated, it’s a very good corned beef sandwich, but for pastrami fanatics it’s not quite as special a sandwich as both pastrami sandwiches are. Still, I would stack it up against any corned beef sandwich in town. It’s far superior to the one served about a block away from the Montgomery location at Jason’s Deli, a chain with a large menu. The difference is that California Pastrami’s largeness is in the flavor of its product, not its price.

Philadelphia Cheesesteak

Astute members of the defunct Duke City Fix’s Chow Down in Burque Town” forum found it intriguing (to say the least) that mayonnaise and pastrami would share space in the same sentence, much less the same sandwich (the aforementioned pastrami burger). Though a purist myself, I’ve long ceased being surprised by flavor combinations that work surprisingly well. My first experience with pastrami and mayonnaise was at the aforementioned Deli Mart’s elder sibling on Albuquerque’s east side where the much-missed New York transplanted to Albuquerque Cerami family served their pastrami sandwiches in that fashion. My first inclination was to declare that blasphemy, but the mayonnaise-pastrami combination is actually quite good, albeit not as good as pastrami with real deli mustard.

20 March 2020: Call it blasphemy if you will, but I’ve long had a preference for pastrami Reubens instead of the more conventional corned beef Reuben sandwich. A pastrami Reuben at California Pastrami is a thing of beauty. Unlike other Reubens I’ve had in the Duke City, the Russian dressing doesn’t taste like a cloying Thousand Island clone and the sauerkraut won’t purse your lips with its tartness. It’s served on a lightly toasted light rye bread and includes a heaping mound of pastrami, the starring attraction of any sandwich.

Half a loaf of Joe’s outstanding New York-style rye bread

3 February 2010: Joe Rodriguez, like me, recognizes the potential in pastrami to improve everything it touches. He didn’t blink an eye during a visit in which I asked for a patty melt sandwich with pastrami. By itself, the patty melt has all the essential elements of a very good patty melt sandwich–a light rye bread grilled until toasty brown, finely chopped onions fried nearly to the point of caramelization, a hand-formed all-beef patty and rich melted cheese. The pastrami elevated it from very good to excellent. Some time I may just ask Joe to add pastrami to one of the burritos served at his restaurant.

3 February 2010: Lest you think California Pastrami is a one-trick pony whose expertise is limited to pastrami, the menu includes several burritos as well as fish tacos (on hard shells, no less) I’ve heard draw utterances of “wow” from other patrons. The restaurant also prepares a very good Philly cheesesteak. It’s served on a hoagie roll and is engorged to overfull with chopped beef steak, finely chopped green peppers and onions and melted white cheese. It’s steaming hot when you bite into it and is as juicy and delicious as just about any Philly cheesesteak you’ll find in Albuquerque. You won’t find a speck of excess fat or sinew on the beef which is very tender.

The Border Dog
The Border Dog

10 APRIL 2013: Several years ago, television commercials for a pseudo Mexican fast food chain encouraged diners to “make a run for the border.” Duke City diners should run, not walk, to California Pastrami to partake of a new menu item called The Border Dog. The Border Dog is perhaps as close to a Sonoran Hot Dog as you’ll find in Albuquerque. The hot dog is wrapped in bacon and deep-fried. Nestled in the bun are caramelized onions and chopped jalapeños. The hot dog bun is made on the premises and is quite good.

Another addition, perhaps in response to complaints of bread which withered neath the moistness of the steamed pastrami, is a much improved bread baked on the premises. The bread is chewy and formidable enough for the moistness of the steamed pastrami. It doesn’t wither and doesn’t get soggy. Best of all, it’s a delicious bread which disproves the notion that good bread can’t be baked in the alkaline-rich Albuquerque area. Joe not only bakes his own hoagie and rye breads, but the buns for his burgers and hot dogs. The rye bread is especially delicious, a wonderful canvas for sandwiches or toast. It’s amazing how much better bread can be without artificial preservatives.

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

Joe Rodriguez knows that the best way to grow his business is to invest in his business. To that end, he continues to expand his restaurant’s offerings. A pastry case displays several dessert options, but on balmy summer days only Breyer’s ice cream will do. Currently available only on a cone or bowl, Joe is planning on making milkshakes and malts available in the near future. Smoothies are also available as are some of the best housemade potato chips in Albuquerque.

1 October 2014: Joe is especially proud of the pineapple upside-down cake which is baked by his lovely bride who works beside him at the restaurant. He’s got good reason to be proud of this dessert. It’s rich, moist and utterly delicious. It’s also not overly sweet as some pineapple upside-down cake tends to be.

California Pastrami is one of the best sandwich purveyors in New Mexico, introducing new diners to “real” pastrami while continuing to appease those of us who consider pastrami the most sensual of all cured meats.

California Pastrami
10131 Coors Blvd, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 21 May 2021
BEST BET: Pastrami Reuben, The Easterner, Philly Cheesesteak, Pastrami Reuben, Clam Chowder

90 thoughts on “California Pastrami & More – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

  1. After a Great Rose Bowl Game draining my energy level per adrenaline rushes, I had to hustle over to replenish at the newest CP on 7 Bar Loop off Coors in the former Lumpy’s across from Sears Auto Center.
    Too Funny! Was greeted knowingly by a diminutive whirlwind I hadn’t seen in several months per her apparently working to organize opening these 2 new CPs while tending an ill husband. She is obviously the source behind what is CPs co-equal popularity, its hospitality. Lo, I never knew she is Joe’s Wife, Nichelle (Michelle with an N.) Tell her Bob sent ya!
    Be sure to sign up for CPs Rewards Program. If you go soon, they’ll give you a Holiday Giveaway envelope to later use between 1/15 and 2/28 for prizes ranging from Potato Chips to $10/$20/$100 Gift Card etc.

  2. WestSide (Re-)OPENING!:
    Whoa….way back when, but less than 10 years ago, Joe Rodriguez tried to go from his popular roadside stand in Santa Fe to indoors on ABQ’s Rte. 528/Alameda Blvd., kinda across from a What-a-Burger and Jack-in-the-Box, in a place that didn’t face the street. If you live on the WestSide, you know this location for reasons only known to the gods, changes hands more than any politician….No, I do not know what that means! Soon tho, Joe moved to Montgomery and San Pedro in the complex of shoppes that also do not face the street! Nevertheless, his offerings have blossomed such that earlier this year he opened another shoppe on Gibson.

    – Today, I am blessed (to kinda invite you?) to pass on his announcement to e.g. North Valleyans and WestSiders and All who often lament the lack of fine foods therein, that Joe will be welcoming Y’all to the recently renovated Lumpy’s on 7 Bar Loop which is across from Sears Automotive Center, just off Coors….see map Going north on Coors, ya turn West on 7 Bar Loop where Los Cuates is on the SW corner

    – California Pastrami’s Grand Opening on the WestSide is this Saturday, December 31st at 11 AM!!!!!!

    – If I could, but I can’t (and really don’t have to), I’d offer a satisfaction guarantee RE your palate being satisfied as well as with the service….given what I’ve experienced on Montgomery the past several years!
    – For Newbie’s new to Pastrami: my Fav….which has been one over the last century per it being invented in NYC, is the Reuben. (Click Menu here: Not sure re the price for a “sandwich”…then get the 1/2 version or something more familiar. Elsewise, here is an explanation of what a Real or True Reuben is with all due respect to completing Hanukkah and Welcoming in the New Year!
    IMHO as a Guyperson who can only surmise: A Reuben is to a sandwich as Chocolate, often hidden away, is to a Gal, at times.

  3. Caveat & Pardon to non-involved Readers re Replies to my Comment of 7/6:

    In regard to my reply to Jim, FGBABQ chimed in with “His (Ed.: BOTVOLR) second rambling just mimics his first. There was one thing he was right about, “simply writing ‘a sign on Lumpy’s……. says California Pastrami is coming”‘ would have been sufficient but for reasons only he knows he needed to continue. In what seems to me, a condescending way”

    – Well now….After castigating me that people could speak up for themselves as to whether or not they would attend the next FOG if they initially expressed a negativity to Piatanzi, I’m not sure why Bruce then takes it upon himself to play “Big Brother” for Jim.

    – RE “condescending”. Indeed, there is a touch of that there in my response. Why? Because Jim says “I can but have no idea what you are writing about…” and then goes on to posit as he does “…unless it is SOMETHING about a new California Pastrami on the west side.” That being correct, why question me? He apparently understood my comment!!!!!

    -RE FGFABQ bashing me as in: “There was one thing he (meaning BOTVOLR) was right about, “simply writing ‘a sign on Lumpy’s……. says California Pastrami is coming”‘ would have been sufficient but for reasons only he knows he needed to continue.”
    Why I continued….if you read both Comments….was to give Joe a ‘pat on the back’ for his hard work in building a business whereby he supports himself and presumptively provides a satisfactory employment and work environment to several other people….as judged by their pleasant interactions with me (and others) when I get served!
    Alas, I often admittedly ‘continue’ in many of my Comments, tending to try to mimic Gil’s expansive/informative write-ups.

    – Seriously FGFABQ: why do you keep bullying me given I now refrain from any “good natured” banter we originally engaged in many years ago. How do you think your constant bashing me is helpful or engaging Folks who read the Blog for the first time to continue reading Gil’s Blog?
    Why do you keep picking at your hemorrhoid by reading my Comments and getting so irritated? Like I’ve suggested in the past:
    FGFABQ to healthcare provider: “Doc”! it pains me to do this!!!
    HEALTHCARE PROVIDER: Bruce!!! Stop reading comments by BOTVOLR!

    Say, why don’t you not be a Wether, and stop writing pithy comments and just always respond to my Comments with: “BOTVOLR: Get off this Blog! It is just for us people who can write so wisely and omnisciently/grammatically! as we do about your Comments, but very infrequently about dining experiences we’ve enjoyed or not!”
    Don’t understand it man….I’ve apologized for what I guessed is wrong or might have been over-the-line, but you apparently can’t get figure out how to unbury the hatchet that you recently claimed you could regarding attending the last FOG!

    1. I thought I was rather restrained.
      If I wanted to bully you I would.
      Once again you offer hundreds of words for the third time to say the same thing.
      Read this: Congrats to Joe on his success in opening a second CP&M.
      He deserves accolades and success for all his hard work.
      And don’t think it’s not obvious to whom certain parts of your schtick is directed. You sly devil, you.
      I said in 21 words what you needed 979 to get across. And no need for references to sites, just to the point.
      Stay out of the sun, thin skin burns easily.

  4. Ya know, IMHO, when a Dude busts his como se llama as much as Joe does, I’m saying ya gotta give him something or other.
    Started out in Sante Fe of all places AND as a road side stand. Then gave it a shot here on 528 while next making it on Montgomery & San Pedro. Re the latter, Joe is giving it another shot for the convenience of West Siders by being busy in the process of rehabing the short lived Lumpy’s on 7 Bar Loop off Old Coors.
    – Last night I tried to catch up with him on the west side of the river, but missed him, after “cashing in my $7 Rewards”, to find an anticipated date….which I think, per peeking in, is at least several weeks off.
    -Bottom line: in the meantime, check out the Reuben or other delights so hopefully we’ll be ready to give him one heck of an Opening Fiesta on the WestSide!!! Thanks

    1. am sorry Bob. I am trying as hard as I can but have no idea what you are writing about unless it is SOMETHING about a new California Pastrami on the west side. You have given really NO information to go on. Please clarify.

      1. Sorry Jim that I left you having no idea what I was writing about, altho it does look like you “got” it.

        In any event, hope this helps to clarify my previous rambling vs simply writing “A sign on the former Lumpy’s on 7 Bar Loop Rd. NW says Califonia Pastrami is coming.”

        As I am not clear on what part(s) you are not clear on, pardon my trying to possibly cover it/them all.

        RE (regarding) “….when a Dude busts his como se llama as much as Joe does…..” translates as ‘when a Dude busts his butt…’.

        RE “… I’m saying ya gotta give him something or other.” is meaning I’m just trying to give Joe, who is the owner of CP, Kudos (a pat on the back) for his pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps effort in making his was in what is apparently still ‘the land of opportunity’ ( ) in a tough market place I probably just should have used how Gil originally phrased it:

        “The rest of us are thrilled that he took it a step further and begin selling it at the New Mexico state fair during the fall of 2006. His success there convinced him there was a legitimate market of passionate pastrami fanatics like me. Rodriguez didn’t start off by selling his pastrami at some fancy storefront. He built a concession trailer and parked it on the corner of St. Francis Drive just as you turn into Alameda. The trailer was furnished with all he needed to prepare his product and was so portable, he took it to the state fair and balloon fiesta.

        In November, 2009, Duke City pastrami aficionados no longer had to drive to Santa Fe to assuage their chile fix when Rodriguez launched California Pastrami on Alameda Boulevard. California Pastrami was in that location until January, 2011, its closure coinciding with the opening of a location at 6125 Montgomery, N.E. By year’s end, he had sold the concession trailer and closed the Santa Fe operation. Ever the entrepreneur, he remains optimistic about opening another storefront location both in Albuquerque’s west side and perhaps in Santa Fe.”

        RE “rehab”: meaning I could see through the locked glass door inside that he was rehabilitating or tearing out a lot of what were the former insides to apparently fashion it to be a decor of his own design.

        RE “cashing in my $7 Rewards”, Just trying to remind Folks that Joe offers a “reward” program” when you patronize his restaurant on occasions.

        In the end, was hoping to engender a bit of interest in the Folks who seem to enjoy his products, to come out to celebrate his return to the Westside, whenever that finally happens.

      2. His second rambling just mimics his first. There was one thing he was right about, “simply writing ‘a sign on Lumpy’s……. says California Pastrami is coming”‘ would have been sufficient but for reasons only he knows he needed to continue. In what seems to me, a condescending way
        A real conundrum if there ever was one.

      3. FGFABQ, it’s like I tell my wife. If you keep banging your head against the same wall, at some point you have to stop blaming the wall…:-)…just saying…

  5. Alas, be careful driving around as Santa (FOG Reznik) is rushing around out there dropping off stuffed animals at hospitals and for comfort use by Police and EMTs….Kudos!!!
    – Whoa…does a good pastrami by Joe help keep him in shape?
    Congrats to Joe who has shown how hard work, great “products”, and mentoring hospitable Staff has brought him a long way from starting out in New Mexico….Feliz Navidad to him and that Staff!

  6. Yo FOGgies! Lest ya missed it, Joe has recently been offering delivery of his Offerings, e.g. the to-die-for Ruben, lest you don’t think you can make it to/fro where you work during the time available for your lunch hour.
    – Simply sign up for Free for his Rewards Program

    “California Pastrami does Lunch delivery?
    After visiting businesses around Albuquerque, most of them had no idea we deliver our delicious sandwiches to their area. We deliver to real estate offices, doctor offices, and Luncheons. We package each order up in an individual box, then write the name of the person for each order on the box, this makes it easy for everyone to get what they want without mixing everyone’s orders up.
    We will deliver in a 5 mile radius with a $25 minimum
    Even if you are ordering just one sandwich for yourself we will deliver it for a $5 charge, but when your are a Pastrami Rewards Member you can use the promo code on the bottom of the page for a FREE delivery within 5 miles.” (Psst: Tee Hee Promotion Number: 38394)
    Think about this Google Map radius: Tramway/Montgomery is 5 miles!
    (Disclaimer: I am not in a liaison with any of the staff or prinicipals of CP. I just wish Y’all good eats!)

  7. Congrats Joe! for being found at the top of this List of 1,423 ABQ restaurants along with e.g. Antiquity at #2 and so on! Check CP out: as Best of 2015 in ABQ (I’ve read elsewhere that TripAdvisor has over 250 million reviews on 5.2 million businesses/properties! Can’t help but wonder that ‘travellers’ must put some stock in it!)

  8. Who would have thought that All American Bob would choose a German bit of delicatessen with which to celebrate our nation’s declaration of freedom from tyranny.
    Why not a bucket of Southern Fried chicken, or the humble GCCD, or a slice of good old apple pie a la mode?
    Kate Smith singing “God Bless America” with a Reuben in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other with a bahn mi tied to her microphone stand and a bottle of Pilsner Urquell, a good Czech beer, to wash it down might be some folks vision for July 4th.
    I prefer something closer to home, maybe a local craft beer and a New England clam bake.

    1. Oy vey my Dear FGFABQ: Let me ask
      I thought I was being fairly obvious….transparent as we say nowadays….for even you to see the linkages!
      – I believe Reubens are most popularly thought of as a Jewish (not German) deli sandwich as, for example, strongly suggested previously herein by those Folks.
      – The reason* we can/do celebrate winning the War of Independence (aka The Revolutionary War) was because a fellow by the name of Haym Salomon saved our como se llamas by his financial acumen!!!
      – Haym Saloman is a Jewish fellow as noted herein.
      – To complete the circle, Salomon is a bit of “akin” to me per his birth in Poland!!!
      – And that’s the whole enchilada as to why I might eat a California Pastrami’s Reuben on the Fourth of July Eve!
      – (*OK OK…it was never taught in my history book in grade school.)
      – So whadda ya think instead already? I should get me a Foot Long Chile Cheeze Dog with onions and take it and me out to the old ballgame at the Isotopes Ballpark to honor the Celebration??? No way!!!

  9. On the Eve of the 4th, seemed like it was a natural to get a Reuben in a place where staff “knows yer name”, akin to being in Cheers seeing as it is in the Town which birthed Independence, all to be enjoyed while sipping a Sam Adams Cream Stout from theyah (Baahstan not CP) and all while listening to (caveat: religious reference) while using my recently received CP Rewards Card $7 off discount!!!
    PS: Hope West Siders keep eyes open as Joe is still looking for such a location; I again pushed he might try hooking up with a Craft Brew place as well.
    Have a Safe One!

  10. We loved California Pastrami at San Pedro and Montgomery! Their food was tasty and delicious! The service was outstanding! The sandwiches were so big we had leftovers. The variety of choices on the menu is outstanding. Great staff, great food, great service – what more could you want? Love the homemade chips as well. The ice cream was a real treat. I’ve been seeing their commercial so much that it makes me hungry. Well done California Pastrami!

  11. Bobo, being situated between two coasts makes places like NYC and Los Angeles seem like Dubai pricewise.
    The sandwich at Katz’s is probably 4-4 1/2 inches from plate to top, enough for a family of 4 plus leftovers for you pet.
    Remember what John Arbuckle said, “You get what you pay for.” You can’t get a Cadillac for Firebird prices, to put it in terms you’ll understand. Lunch at a gyro place today near Cedars-Sinai was $42. Ridiculous. Johnny Rocket’s for lunch for 4 of us yesterday was $65. Ridiculous too.
    I asked my S-I-L if he had dined at Lawry’s and he had to think if he’d ever heard of it……
    No living in the past for him.
    But I do agree with you that having CP&More is a very good thing. Every so often I need my fix and I know that CP&M will satisfy every time.
    And being married to a retired flight attendent means free flights. With so many exes I don’t know why you missed out on that perk???

  12. Thanks. SoCal is like Mars for me. If there was a person on the street who I could make eye contact with I’d use the “take me to your leader” line.
    My daughter and son-in-law don’t frequent the tried and true eateries so info like yours is invaluable for novices like my wife and me.
    We will try Cantors next.
    Then The Hat.
    Any recommendations for good Chinese?

    1. I lived in So CA for many years and there are many good Chinese Restaurants to choose from. Hard to make a recommendation as I’ve eaten in so many. I ate good Chinese where I lived, inland empire and East LA, Hacienda Heights, Baldwin Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel Valley near work. These are mostly mom and pop Chinese restaurants and the menus are not always the same, ie. Cantonese, Szechuan, Mandarin. There are some really good Korean restaurants and good Mongolian barbecue restaurants as well. Trust me on Canter’s they are truly the best and the Hat Pastrami cheeseburger is outstanding. My kids used to get the chili fries. You can check them out on youtube. I guess you tried In-N-Out for burgers, next time go to Tommy’s Original, different but really good as they offer a cheeseburger with a ladle of red chili with beef on top. If you go to San Bernardino you have to eat at Rosa Maria’s for a “Garbage Burrito” I know it sounds disgusting but unbelievably good. Now I’m hungry, it’s lunch time. See ya.

  13. FGFABQ,

    Philippes the Original, invented the French Dip they’ve been around for years and are the best.

    Canters Fairfax is the best Deli in CA. Again been around for years and none better.

    Next time you’re in So CA try The Hat for Pastrami, Calif Pastrami in Albuq buys their Pastrami from the same supplier as the Hat.

    Usually there’s no substitute for the Original due to tradition and experience. Mary and Tito’s as an example, in business over fifty years and still the best.

  14. All kvetching aside I think the vast majority of Kosher Delis have either dropped the Kosher appelation or gone the way of the Edsel.
    Re the French Dip,there are so many excellent restaurants in the Los Angeles area it seems silly to keep going backward to the old standbys. I can’t tell you haw disappointing Pinks hot dogs were. They are in the catagory of the Dog House which is a ball park frank dressed up to seem better than it really is.
    Try Cicciones, a great Italian eatery, try some of the fabulous sushi spots. Even had a greek gyro that killed.
    Bobo, you seem mired in memories from long ago. You can’t go home again, and if you do you’ll find the memories far outpace the current truths about those places you hold near and dear. Onward and upward, my friend, get rid of the creased jeans, the Firebird (unless you believe it’s an investment that can only rise with age, and join the rest of us inwho have crossed the bridge into the 21st century. I’ll be there to welcome you, pilgrim.

  15. Yo FGFABQ…Sorry to read of your N/A’s woes. Obviously per your future Grandparentaling enjoyments in Hermosa, you will need pastrami replenishments.
    Very sorry for my brain freeze of the name of Gil’s LA Amiga who I believe pointed out Langer’s seen here kitty-korner from Macarthur Park…yes, the one made famous in song
    Beyond that, I can only imagine you might find the type you want at this iconic landmark where a lot of your tribe, as your referenced, used to or still ‘hang out’ to kvetch
    Oh Oh…for a change of pace, hope you might give us an update on the original French Dip (ask for double dipped)at (click the video inset on the right also) as LA tourists visiting ABQ who I query, still claim it the best place to get one. Say, when you do go, please ask if that is the original sawdust still on the floor!

    1. My LA Amiga Sandy isn’t the only friend of mine who swears by Langer’s. Tesuque friend Bob S. who grew up in NYC and lived in LA believes Langer’s is even better than Katz’s Deli in NYC. If you do decide to visit, I recommend NOT watching the movie MacArthur Park which paints the area in a grim light.

      Bruce, I (and former NYC mayor Ed Koch) wholly agree with you that lean pastrami is NOT the way to go. A little fat goes a long way with pastrami.

  16. I’m commenting on Nate and Al’s deli in Los Angeles and what better place to do so than Gil’s review of California Pastrami and More.
    I have been looking forward to the pastrami sandwich at Nate and Al since reading Sr. Plata’s recommendation on this blog.
    I was disappointed.
    I prefer the regular fattier-cut of pastrami versus the lean, almost fat free version of corned beef, pastrami, brisket, Cut out fat, cut out taste along with it. At least I believe so. Just try the “wet” brisket at Rudy’s and then compare it to the more lean brisket. That’s the easiest way to see the difference.
    Back to Nate and Al’s, I asked the waitperson if they had “wet” pastrami or at the very least both a lean and a regular choice of pastrrami. The response was “I’ll ask”. The eventual asnswer was no, only one version of the meat and it was a lean version with virtually no speck of fat. And it was sliced and put in a moderately sized slab of pastrami and placed flat on the sandwich bread which was good rye. I was underwhelmed and I thought about Cal. Pastrami and More and thought to myself, the Albuquerque shop was so much better, and wetter.
    The potato salad was also OK not great.
    The matzoh Ball soup was just that, broth, 2 balls, and on request some noodles.
    My wife makes an infinitely better matzoh ball soup with carrots, celery, occasionally some fennel, better balls noodles and chicken and she’s not even a member of my tribe.
    I found N&A’s version bland and boring.
    I looked into the dessert area and did not see any 7 layer cake. Too bad.
    I had asked for Stuffed Derma, a long time favorite and staple of good Jewish delis. My question was met with blank stares and no one behind the counter knew what I was inquiring about.
    Want good pastrami?
    Save the drive or plane trip to Beverly Hills and just be more than happy with California Pastrami and More.

  17. How fiendish to put an update up as it preys upon those of us trying to exercise restraint in visiting too often (or is that an oxymoron?)despite having a 14 minute distance buffer.
    Wow, can’t imagine how many Royalty Rewards Resnik has garnered!
    Muy Sabrosa!!!

    (For you NYers, Bourdain (who I don’t watch) will be visiting da Bronx this Sunday on CNN. Hope he doesn’t goof as he did about describing the Frito Pie at the 5 & Dime in Santa Fe

  18. I was just going to drop a note suggesting Folks consider Joe’s relatively new addition of his Royalty Rewards program as I used my $5 OFF coupon Thursday which I recently received in the mail! (Alas, I then found I could get points added towards my 150 for getting a $7 off coupon if I encouraged my Com(p)adres to apply & mention my name…Bob McC….and even by writing a review for those national foodie Blogs, albeit I’ll push he add the Gil, that’s why this is longer.)
    ~ Be that as it may, I would still have added my 100% reliability rating for 1) Joe’s Reuben’s unmatched classic flavor and taste (brinyness being just right), 2) it being a NON soggy rye after a 15 minute drive home, 3) having one of the friendliest “fast food” staff in ABQ, and 4) as previously noted above, Joe is a Champion of the True Reuben as the bald guy notes in the first part herein
    ~ Remember, keep on the alert for Joe for property possibilities on the West Side!
    ~ Alas, as he was not in when there, would’ve suggested he might co-partner with one of our burgeoning Chart Breweries that migt be headed that way (West) as well!

  19. Joe should have an ad (as a reminder for some of us ‘of an age’), akin to Prince Spaghetti’s ‘If its (name the month) June 6th, its Reuben Day at California Pastrami!)
    ~ Alas upon query today, he advises its already been 3yrs since he was over on 528! As such, a note to WestSiders or travellers thereto, if ya see a spot, pass it on to him as he’d like to get back over sometime (which is not to be taken he’d like to leave his current location).
    ~ Again, a Thumbs Up to a non-soggy Reuben after a 15 minute drive home!!

  20. Hi Bob and Bruce,

    I too am a fan of the Reuben at California Pastrami. One of the things Joe does, and I think it is brilliant, is serve the sandwich on a nest of home-made potato chips. This keeps the bread from sitting in juice and ensures it stays nice and toasty. BTW, the rye bread is baked on the premises too. I have not tried Nosh yet, but I have not found a better Reuben sandwich in New Mexico. My 2.

  21. I visited this place when it first opened (the Montgomery location) and wasn’t that impressed. After four years, they definitely have their kitchen together, as I stopped in for lunch yesterday and was pleasantly surprised. They have made many improvements, including the bread as mentioned above. This is going to be on my go-to list.

  22. ~ El Brute: Please don’t pose a question or force me into a choice between The Beave and The Reuben! Completely separate from tha and lacking inuendo, I think there’s a difference between a Reuben with tight, layered slices and (preferred) loosely plopped ‘pieces’.
    ~ (Saying with an upward lilt:) Sooooo? Yes/no? on the Reuben video? LOL
    ~ While staying tangentially on point per Food, here’s more for El Brute’s future visits to Hermosa: check out Lacey’s Comedy and Magic Club in downtown (its only a couple of blocks big!) especially per their note: A Menu Created by Some of the Finest Chefs of California! Along with that, you can also enjoy Jay Leno doing stand-up there (albeit alas, I’ll bet pesos to biscochitos, you’re into Dave and shun Jay…LOL)
    (Say, FYI, here’s ‘my hip pad’ circa ’63 just two blocks from the surf!!! and Pier Ave . I parked my Vespa in front of the window on the right, behind which is (was) my lavish (@ about $75/mo) ingenious combo living-dining-bedroom!)
    My 2nd biggest misstep in life? Not staying there working my butt off to buy for a song those one-two bedroom spartan “vacation cottages”, built in the ’30s/’40s, on or just a few feet off The Strand and turning a quick trick a few years later instead of going off to Grad school for a society ennobling(?) profession…what a Klutz!)
    ~PS: Seriously??!! No crease in your jeans? Those are called “Mom Jeans” and you’re probably into rolling up your cuffs on the outside! with, at your age, EEs…Elasto-Expando waists too!!!! LMAO
    Please please tell me while visiting your daughter and walking on the beach with her or Lady Graycee, you at least wear Flip-Flops or Crocs, but NO NO don’t tell me you wear mid-calf, nylon socks let alone Black of any kind!!!!!

  23. BOTVOLR, aside from frugalities, creases in Jeans and shopping at Wal-Mart we are finally on the same page deli wise.
    California Pastrami is certainly the bar setter here in ABQ. Better than Nosh, Jason’s, et al.
    I personally don’t mind soggy bread, it represents the heat and moisture needed to make the meat what it should be.
    I do think you have the same crush on Reuben that you have on The Beave. I understand the Beave but a sandwich?

  24. Finding a frugal dry cleaner ‘on the other side of town’ for my jeans (Jeans? Yes! My 14 buck WallyMart’s ((or any other big bucks)) don’t fade as quick and I can get a center crease for that ‘professional business look’) gave me a welcomed Op for another of CP’s Reubens. Alas, had to get a To-Go which caused me to fret about it getting soggy. Whoa! 15 minutes later I took it out of its wrapper and splayed it on a real plate to leave room for the slaw cuplet. Per being enchanted by this view for several seconds, can’t help but to say it looked “exquisitely” layered…grilled rye-(loose) corned beef-cheese-kraut-1K Island-rye. With great trepidation, I lifted up a half and was overjoyed to find the rye was without sog even tho I thought it was enhanced with butter when grilled!!! Munching away, can’t help but to say, using that overused phrase, “It was to die for!”*….perhaps better than a few months ago? The creamy style cole slaw was a nice contrasting accompaniment along with the dill slice. *(With all due respect to NYC’s Stage Deli.)
    If I may: a couple of places around town, and elsewhere, are playing a variation on this creation. To these Locals’ credit, I note they’re using an alternate ‘naming’. Nosh calls their subbing cole slaw for kraut, The Amherst, which I haven’t had. Bocadillo’s delightfully bodacious in-house made kraut as well as thousand island, calls it Duke City Ruben (sic). Otherwise, purists must certainly check out this for what the “problem” is and my slight, but non exclusive, preference for California Pastrami’s Reuben in ABQ.
    Does anyone remember a Smith’s(?) in the corner of the strip mall at San Pedro & Lomas, circa ’70, that had a ‘deli-like’ counter where they served a grilled sandwich like the Reuben called the Cheyenne if memory serves me correctly? What was in that?

  25. -Yo FoodieStar….Thanx for the update….checked out the ‘new bun’…indeed holds together much better! Aaargh, when all is said n done, guess I’d opt for the rye. (Geesh, I waffle a lot! Speaking of being wry…why couldn’t there be such a thing as a Rye bun or Kaiser?)
    -Salty, but not overly so today…perfect.
    -Waitstaff,even tho they may change, gets an “A”.

  26. If you haven’t been to California Pastrami in awhile, you might want to check out their in-house baked bread. It is much better than the pretty good kaiser roll they used to serve. It is chewy and holds up much better to the juiciness of the pastrami. Their investment in a bread oven has paid off and they offer a decadent home baked chocolate chip cookie as you enjoy your sandwich.

    Good stuff getting better!

  27. A return to “double check” after seeing a print assessment of pastrami elsewhere by a respected Foodie. I previously opined nothing about it after a visit by Gil as I was …not similarly taken. Currently, I still give 2 Thumbs up to ‘California’ albeit with notations: Maybe its peculiar to pastrami or maybe my waning taste buds, but ‘saltiness’ seemed up just a bit. The Rye made it through again, but I’m still wondering how a Kaiser roll would do or, better, maybe lightly toasting the rye. While a different waitstaff was not as enthused as last time, I do give the gal KUDOS on coming by to check on my satisfaction as well as her solicitousness about making changes when I expressed a little bit of being offput with the offerings of Canyon Radio….a generational thing I’m sure!!!! LOL Alas, if I have a ‘real’ disappointement it is the price hike which….despite the quality of the pastrami…will space my visits out a bit even if the online menu of $7.10 is corrected to match the inhouse menu-board of $8.25….i.e. a 16% uppityness comes no way close to only my 3% increase in my government handout of Social Security the first of this year…after a couple of years of none which was along with the rest of yaz, !!! (Sorry, can’t remember 528’s price, but don’t think it was even 7.)

  28. 1st visit since on 528. Nice improvement over the previous setting. The gal at the order counter was very engaging and I got a sense she was really “invested” in CP and you as a customer, kinda more so than her youngish appearance initially suggested…shame on me.
    I must admit, I might have levelled off going to the other per two things that were tip top today…even tho I kind of prop up one half of the sandwich here and elsewhere to hopefully avoid that half’s bread ‘steaming’ sort ta speak, I felt the moistness in today’s offering was just right so the bread didn’t crumble. (My first pastrami was as a kid in a dark panelled, narrow bar in Baastan under the elevated train. It was on a Kaiser Roll which did a yeoman’s job.) The second plus was my buds were sensing a bit less saltiness, kinda just right. (A Thank You upon leaving also never hurts.)

  29. Simply put, a great pastrami sandwich!
    Great meat (a nice peppery flavor, moist), great bread (perfect rye, seeded, crusty), very good well made potato salad, and a terrific staff, friendly and attentive.
    I don’t know about adding green chile, and mayo would make every kosher deli denizen spin like a top in their grave.
    The only thing missing was Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda. I’d even take the Cel-Ray in a pinch.
    I’m only sorry I hadn’t followed Gil’s recommendation sooner.

  30. According to the lady answering the phone at the California Pastrami & More on Montgomery and San Pedro, it is the only one now operating. The C.P. & M. in Santa Fe and the one on Hwy 528 have both closed. Now I gotta drive all the way down to ABQ to get one of their great sandwiches.

  31. Happy to say California Pastrami will indeed be in Rio Rancho. Starting Saturday, September 24 it they will be serving at The Damn Bar on Unser. Not sure yet what hours they will be there, but, looking forward to it.

  32. After Gil’s first review we made the pilgrimage from mortgage heights to the HW 528 location. The eastern pastrami on rye that we had were quite good, We were delighted when the Montgomery store opened. Have been there twice and couldn’t believe it was the same restaurant. First time we tried the eastern pastrami with fries and onion rings. The pastrami on rye was on the greasy side and otherwise unremarkable. The onion rings would have been OK if they were a decent size but they were made from onions sliced about 1/4 inch thick. The next time we tried the classic pastrami. It had so much grease running out of it that it ran down my arm when I picked it up. The staff are cordial enough but the service was very slow. We waited about 20 minutes for out sandwiches. There were only 3 or 4 people ahead of us. We saw other people waiting over half an hour before we left. When they opened they had menus all over the place. The prices on the menu and on the board over the counter did not agree. When I ponited this out and asked which prices they were charging the staff said no one had noticed. Now the menus are gone. We won’t be back. Next time we want a pastrami sandwich it’s off to Jersey Jacks.

  33. Visited the Montgomery location last weekend. Not impressed. First of all: Asthmatics stay away! Their hood wasn’t working. Heavy, greasy smoke was throughout the place including the restroom.
    I ordered a cheesesteak to go. Shame on me I didn’t check my order before I left. The sandwich had no cheese on it, for real. I picked through the meat, peppers and onions as well as scraped the bun with my fingernail. No cheese! The sandwich was soggy enough to eat with utensils. Flavor was not of a cheesesteak. Dipped my finger in the lake of juice? at the bottem of the paper basket and it was the distinct flavor of soy sauce. This sandwich was literally a very soggy roll filled with an order of ordinary pepper steak from a chinese buffet. Nothing Philly-esque about it.
    Although I have had the gold standard of pastrami sandwiches from New York’s lower east side, I would never think to include this shop in that realm. I will,, however go back and try their basic rye,mustard and pastrami offering to see if it’s at least middle of the road, although they’re not very high on my list.

    1. Albuquerque’s second California Pastrami is indeed open at 6125 Montgomery Blvd NE. The bad news is that the original Duke City location (3600 NM Highway 528) has closed. Owner Joe Rodriguez is looking for a location on Albuquerque’s west side or possibly Rio Rancho and hopes to open soon.

  34. By year’s end in 2010, a second California Pastrami restaurant will launch, this one on the northwest corner of the San Pedro and Montgomery intersection.


    Parents on picture still alive and kicking. Mom in 83 and Dad 84.

  35. i ate at the alameda location (first time) back in may. it seemed like an absurdly long wait for a simple sandwich but it’s a small kitchen with one cook so i figured i’ll cut ’em some slack. the basic pastrami sandwich was indeed overly soggy; but since they just squirt some water into the meat and toss a cover over it on the grill, i figured their process is highly susceptible to the cooks attention and technique.

    the sandwich was ok; not great like i used to get when i lived in LA, but i’m happy they’re here. a bit more kitchen attentiveness and a better space/kitchen layout would help them a ton. they’re really shoehorned into a small poor space.

    i’ll try them again but i’ll phone in my order next time…

  36. the food was gr8 the service was incredible the cook juan knows how to make those pastramis real good

  37. Albq location now open, at the old Chili Stop(Bombay Grill), it was great. My cousins from CA agreed just like the old Calif. sandwiches. As for the guy with Soggy sandwiches, go back and try again.

  38. I just had the #20 fish tacos for lunch today, all I can say is WOW! Fresh and tasty, from the fish, to the pico de gallo, sauce, even the taco shell itself had great flavor and not greasy at all. I’ve had fish tacos in San Diego, and in Baja Mexico, and now NM can be proud to have a place serving up great Fish Tacos as well! Can’t wait to try the other menu items.

  39. After sloshing through the mud to the little trailer, then waiting about 30 minutes for our order (on a Saturday), I was thinking that our sandwiches better be good. They were! Fresh, juicy and tender, the pastrami was easily the best I have tasted in NM. The corned beef was almost as good. We look forward to checking out more items on the menu, but it will be hard to pass up the the pastrami.

    Gil, my wife and I are indebted to you for reviewing this place. I am not sure we would have checked it out, otherwise.

  40. We tried 3 different sandwiches on 2 visits – all were excellent!

    Everything made to order and served Hot!

    Great – attentive staff – I Look forward to many more satisfying visits.

    What a welcome delight on the west side.

  41. I was amazed at the bread they use for the #1 – A torpedo (hero, hoagie, etc.) roll that looked unremarkable but stood up very well to the savory juice dripping from the meat. The chewy crust must be the key and I would be surprised if the previous commentor got a soggy #1. They may have ordered #2, served “eastern style” on rye bread – I haven’t tried that yet.

    I have never really been a pastrami fan, but these sandwiches made a believer out of me. It is among the best sandwich meat I have eaten, let alone the best Pastrami I have had the pleasure of eating. Those guys got it right!

  42. We tried Cal. Pastrami and found the sandwiches so sopping wet that they were virtually inedible. We won’t be going back.

  43. I just had lunch and the #1 Calfornia Pastrami Sandwich was excellent. Im from here but spent decades in SO CA and had eaten at the HAT for years. All I had was the sandwich so I cant tell you about anything else. The people at the table next to mine were from SO CA and knew the Hat as well. We all agreed Joseph has a hit. I cant wait to go back and have the Pastrami Cheeseburger and some of the other things on the menu. Be sure and visit their website to see it. It’s a small place but BIG flavor.

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