The last time I ate the best pastrami Reuben west of the Pecos, I went back to work and insisted that my co-workers smell my hands. Though I’d washed up after hefting the beguiling mountain of seasoned smoked beef on house-baked rye, a succulent campfire scent lingered on my fingers. I knew it was weird, but I just wanted to share the magic.
Such is the power of this sandwich’s spell — and I’m not the only overzealous evangelist for the extraordinary pastrami at Dr. Field Goods Butcher Shop and Bakery (2860 Cerrillos Road, 505-474-6081). On a recent Saturday, a woman at the shop’s lunch counter was polishing one off and telling anyone within earshot that this was the best Reuben she’d had outside of New York City. She said she’d made sure the sandwich was the first substantial food she’d had in days, after a prolonged illness.
Dr. Field Goods Kitchen chef Josh Gerwin said the sandwich — which contains 4 Daughters Land & Cattle Co. beef, Barrio Brinery sauerkraut, Tucumcari Mountain Muenster cheese, and his own secret, spicy take on Russian dressing — is the product of a bicoastal collaboration. When butcher Gabe Archuleta was formulating the recipe, the two discussed the differences between West Coast and East Coast pastrami. The Ventura-raised Gerwin fondly remembered the peppercorn-and-coriander-rubbed California beef of his youth, while Archuleta, who cut his culinary teeth in New York, was inspired by the no-nonsense brined, smoked meats of iconic New York delicatessens like Katz’s.
“I’d say both coasts love it,” Gerwin said of the locally sourced sandwich. Round it out with a New Mexico beer from the shop’s rotating roster of taps, enjoy the side of similarly nonpareil hand-cut, crispy-salty steak fries, and bask in the best of all possible worlds.
Bonus round: Get it while you can. Through the month of January at Tonic (103 E. Water St., 505-982-1189), proprietor and barman Winston Greene is mixing up limited-edition batches of a delicious holiday throwback, a clarified brandy milk punch dusted with grated nutmeg that will un-Scrooge even the worst seasonal grumpiness. Using a centuries-old milk-washing process, Greene adds milk to curdle a punch made with fresh-pressed pineapple juice, then strains it to remove the curds and clouds. The result is a crystalline, silky cocktail that combines the smoky vanilla of ArtfulTea’s Lapsang Souchong with lemon peel and toasted star anise steeped in brandy. In this darkest time of year, its soft flavors are a balm for the soul. And traditionalists should not miss Tonic’s dairy-free eggnog, on tap through the holidays.