8685 Irvine Center Drive
Irvine, CA 92618
949-753-7444 fax number
Tommy Pastrami's claim to fame is New York deli style sandwiches made lightning fast. They're supposedly one of the fastest growing franchises in Orange County, with 75 franchises signed in 2007. However, as of right now, there are only three stores currently open. They have locations in La Habra, Santa Ana, Placentia, Irvine and Henderson, NV listed on their website as "Coming Soon".
With the name "Tommy Pastrami," you'd think they would have the best pastrami I have ever tasted. Unfortunately, they do not. I really prefer the pastrami from "The Hat". The pastrami at Tommy Pastrami seems leaner, less greasy and therefore less flavorful. The Hat pastrami gives me a "Wow" flavor in my mouth, while Tommy Pastrami seems just so-so.
This does not mean that you should avoid going to Tommy Pastrami though. In fact, given the choice between the two restaurants, I would probably pick to go to Tommy Pastrami most of the time. Here's why.
I went in to Tommy Pastrami today to order my favorite meal there. This meal has also become one of my favorite lunches period. I'd probably actually get it more often, if it weren't for the price. Today I ordered the "Lite Weight" brisket sandwich ($4.95) with swiss cheese ($0.75) and a side of chili ($1.60). I really wanted to get the half sandwich ($6.95) or their whole "Jumbo" sandwich ($8.95), but I think that it just makes lunch way too expensive. My mini sandwich with the side of chili cost me $7.75 with tax. If I had gotten the whole sandwich, it would have been a little over $12.00. That seems a bit high to me for a sandwich and a cup of chili.
The brisket sandwich here is served "French dip" style with au jus on the side. You have your choice of bread, but I always opt for the french roll that they claim to bake on site daily. Thin, tender slices of brisket are piled high on to the bread, topped with swiss cheese (if you paid the extra $0.75) and the sandwich is then skewered together with a toothpick to hold it all together. I've had a lot of french dips and beef sandwiches in my life, but the Tommy Pastrami brisket sandwich tops them all. Every time I eat this sandwich I gripe about the price, but the moment I start to eat it, suddenly the price doesn't seem that high anymore. The au jus is served boiling hot and is perfectly seasoned. Beefy, salty and oh so good. I could probably eat this sandwich everyday and never get tired of it.
After I scarfed down my sandwich and licked the dripping au jus off my fingers, I moved on to the chili. I always plan to eat the chili with my sandwich, but once I start eating the sandwich, I can't put it down. That may be a good thing though, because once I start eating the chili, I can't put my spoon down. The chili is made with large chunks of tomatoes and onion, mixed together with beans and big fat chunks of beef. The chili is full of flavor and has enough spice to give it a good spicy kick. I'd like it a little better if the chunks of onion were smaller, but this is still one of the best chilis I have ever had.
Even though I ordered the "Lite Weight (4 oz.)" sandwich, I'm still pretty full after eating it and my chili. As I throw my take out container in the trash, I'm already thinking to myself, "I can't wait to get another one of these sandwiches."