The 13 Best Reuben Sandwiches In The U.S.

Jewish delicatessens sell a variety of traditional dishes ranging from matzo ball soup to bagels. While many of these are kosher, Reuben sandwiches, which are seen as a staple of Jewish delicatessens in the United States, aren't because they contain both meat and dairy. This is not the only controversy surrounding the sandwich. Its origins have been hotly disputed; some sources point to New York City, although most indicate Omaha as being the place where the sandwich was first made.

Despite its mysterious origins and non-kosher nature, the Reuben is an enduringly popular part of Jewish delicatessens. Traditionally, the sandwich is made from a combination of corned beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, and Swiss cheese on rye bread. Over the years numerous substitutions have also earned credibility including pastrami in place of corned beef and Russian dressing instead of Thousand Island dressing. Dietary trends have also made their mark. Today, you can find both vegetarian and vegan Reubens.

As an incredibly popular sandwich, with an ever-expanding list of potential ingredients, the number of Reubens being sold in the United States is enormous. We have whittled this total down to 13 sandwiches that we believe are the very best in the United States.

1. Katz's Delicatessen: New York City, New York

An iconic sandwich deserves an iconic setting and Katz's Delicatessen in New York City is definitely that. Founded in 1888, Katz's is a culinary institution that has served generations of families. Although New York's golden era of Jewish delis is long gone, Katz's is a reminder of what was, making it an extremely popular destination for both New Yorkers and tourists alike.

Katz's is known for the quality of its corned beef and pastrami, both of which can feature in the deli's Reuben. This is about as adventurous as it gets; unlike other establishments, Katz's doesn't rely on wacky combinations to attract customers. Instead, the Reuben is built upon the deli's sound understanding of what makes sandwiches work as well as its willingness to change with the times.

Owner Jake Dell explained (via Reuben Report): "Back when we opened, you couldn't find a deli that would dream of combining meat and cheese. But times have changed, and sandwiches have evolved. After much pushing and prodding by our loyal fans, we added the Reuben, and it didn't take long for these same customers to start asking our cutters to make it with pastrami, instead of corned beef. And so, I give you the pastrami Reuben!" Thanks to the tangy sauerkraut, Katz's Reuben stays relatively light even when made with the deli's trademark mountain of pastrami. Katz's homemade Russian dressing also helps to cut through the layers of beef, further elevating this iconic sandwich.

2. Crescent Moon: Omaha, Nebraska

Most people believe the Reuben was invented in Omaha. So, it seems only natural that an establishment in the city offers a fantastic take on the sandwich. At least, that's what Bill Baburek and his team at Crescent Moon, an ale house in the city think. "The first guy who ran my kitchen was like, the Reuben was invented across the street," Baburek said (via KMTV3). "We really should have a Reuben on our menu. The corned beef is so savory. We use local marble rye bread from Rotella's, sauerkraut, Thousand Island Dressing, Swiss cheese. So it's pretty standard."

What isn't standard is the way Baburek's team prepares the sandwich. Instead of grilling, the chefs at Crescent Moon use a conveyor pizza oven to melt the cheese and toast the bread. The result is an incredible uniformity that caused Crescent Moon's Reuben to be named the best Reuben in Omaha by Omaha World Herald. Such notoriety has seen Crescent Moon host a variety of Reuben-themed events in the past. These culminate in the annual ReubenFest; a week-long celebration during which Crescent Moon sells Reuben-themed specials like Reuben calzones and Reuben poutine. While delicious, we would suggest sticking to the sandwich. 

3. Zingerman's Delicatessen: Ann Arbor, Michigan

The team at Zingerman's Delicatessen take immense pride in their Reuben. The sandwich is made from extremely high-quality ingredients. Some of these, like the rye bread, are made in-house. Others, including the corned beef, are bought from suppliers Zingerman's has worked with for decades. When brought together these disparate parts create a brilliant Reuben; one that has even been enjoyed by President Barack Obama.

The delicatessen is the hub of the Zingerman's empire; an array of ethical businesses dotted around Ann Arbor. As such, the deli is permanently busy with diners choosing from an array of options including several varieties of the Reuben. Thanks to a well-designed space and experienced staff, Zingerman's can more than keep up with demand, allowing customers to enjoy brilliant reubens without significant wait times. This was highlighted by one customer on Yelp: "I took advantage of the warmer day to sit out on their patio with this flavor-packed Reuben. It's hard to decide what part of the sandwich I adore more, the Rye bread or the corned beef or the crunchy sauerkraut. There are computer stations to order your sandwich, so the line moves quickly and I got my sandwich in less than 10 min!"

4. The Chicago Diner: Chicago, Illinois

As a meat-free restaurant, The Chicago Diner has faced numerous challenges over its long history but providing good food has not been one of them. Dishes such as vegan cinnamon rolls and the cajun black bean burger have long garnered praise. Yet, the biggest draw remains the diner's radical Reuben.

Made with sauerkraut, cheese, and Thousand Island dressing on marbled rye, this sandwich is almost identical to traditional versions. It is only the absence of corned beef, in favor of seitan, that marks the sandwich as different. Thankfully, this substitute is not a jarring one. On the contrary, the seitan is a seamless addition to the sandwich as testified by this customer (via Yelp): "While I've never had anything I didn't like [at The Chicago Diner], I'd recommend the Reuben with sweet potato fries and a vegan peanut butter shake! You'd never know that the Reuben was vegan!"

5. Court Street Grocers: New York City, New York

Court Street Grocers is a specialty food store with four locations across New York City. A range of sandwiches, two of which are Reubens, are available at each site. While the items that line the shelves trend towards the artisanal, niche, and expensive the in-house Reubens are no-nonsense sandwiches that are fantastic value for money. There is the original, which can include corned beef or turkey, along with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and a house specialty known as a comeback sauce.

The alternative is Reuben brocc which, as the name suggests, swaps meat for roasted broccoli. As a store that stocks premium food products, it is unsurprising to learn that the bread used for both Reubens is sourced from Orwashers, the brilliant New York bakery. Orwashers' fantastic bread goes well with both Reuben options although the house-cured short rib is an especially good match.

6. Wise Sons: San Francisco, California

Many Jewish delicatessens closed in the latter part of the 20th century and the sector never fully recovered. Although the overall number of delis remains low, there are several instances of new Jewish delis being set up and becoming successful. Wise Sons, established in 2012, is one example. Now with multiple locations, Wise Sons is selling new takes on traditional Jewish food — including the brand's iconic meatless Reuben — to a multitude of neighborhoods.

Unlike other meatless versions of the sandwich, Wise Sons' vegetarian Reuben eschews both broccoli and seitan in favor of mushrooms. This lends the sandwich a meaty texture that other vegetables, and faux meat products, often fail to replicate. 

Although vegetarian Reubens are often looked down on by some of Wise Sons' traditionally minded customers, those who have tried it cannot praise it enough. This is exemplified by an entry on Yelp: "Mostly it was outshined by the mushroom sandwich. This sandwich is still, three years after we first tried it, one of the best vegetarian sandwiches in the city. It is perfect. It is crispy and creamy and flavorful and chewy and just such a masterpiece. How they get the mushrooms to behave the way they do is a glorious mystery."

7. Mile End Delicatessen: New York City, New York

So many owners of delicatessens feel obliged to directly replicate traditional Jewish food, whether they want to or not. This, alongside the constant comparison of one deli against another, can be tiresome for owners and staff. Noah Bernamoff, the owner of Mile End Delicatessen, expressed this view to Eater New York. "I think there's a real problem with traditional foods — there's this unstoppable competition for who's the best," he said. "I think that's a big problem that only hurts those foods. Smoked meat is different than pastrami, you can like one or the other or both or neither. I'm not putting it out there and saying it's better than or worse than, it's just a different thing, and I think a lot of people just don't have that perspective."

At Mile End Delicatessen, Bernamoff treats traditional food with respect but not reverence. He is more than happy to make changes that others would call untraditional and the brand's range of Reubens demonstrates this. Mile End Deli serves three options – corned beef, turkey, and smoked meat — all three of these are fantastic sandwiches, but it is the delicious house smoked meat Reuben that most typifies Bernamoff's approach to being a deli owner: innovative, fresh, and exciting.

8. The Bagel Deli & Restaurant: Denver, Colorado

Long a status symbol of both diners and restaurants, overstuffed delicatessen sandwiches have become an expected part of the deli experience across the United States. Somehow, The Bagel Deli & Restaurant in Denver still manages to surpass this expectation by serving sandwiches stacked ludicrously high with meat.

So large is The Bagel Deli's Reuben that it puts all previously eaten sandwiches into perspective as one customer noted via Yelp: "I thought I had a reuben before. New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia...I thought I have tried reubens everywhere. I was wrong. I was so wrong. Bagel Deli served me the first real reuben I've ever had. It was amazing. Huge portion, our server referred to it as "the Cadillac of reubens" and he couldn't have been more accurate! All other reuben sandwiches in the country need to bow to this dish."

Size is only one aspect of a sandwich. Fortunately, The Bagel Deli's Reuben is also extremely well-balanced. This is thanks to the ingenious inclusion of roasted beet horseradish sauce which adds an extra sharpness; a much-needed addition to cut through all that meat.

9. Kenny and Ziggy's New York Delicatessen: Houston, Texas

Texas is not a state renowned for its selection of Jewish Delicatessens; it's better known for barbecue joints and Tex-Mex restaurants. Despite this, Texas is home to several large Jewish delicatessens which rival the quality of those found in any other state. Perhaps the most popular of these is Kenny and Ziggy's New York Delicatessen.

As one of the foremost Jewish delis in the Lone Star State for over two decades, Kenny and Ziggy's have seen the deli's clientele change. Co-owner Ziggy Gruber explained (via Taste Houston): "When I first opened the deli, 70% of the clientele was Jewish and 30% was non-Jewish. Now it's reversed. We haven't lost any Yiddishe people, but our volume has grown so much. Everyone just loves our food. What some Yiddishe kids take for granted, other people think is esoteric or interesting cuisine. They're eating kishke! And stuffed cabbage! And Hungarian goulash!". The secret to the deli's ballooning popularity is no secret: mountainous portions.

Of course, large portions are nothing new to Texas, yet the whopping dishes served at Kenny and Ziggy's are so large as to have become notorious. Gruber has worked in Michelin-star restaurants and his in-depth understanding of classic flavor combinations is evident in the Reuben. Served in the traditional, open-faced style, the Reuben is perfectly balanced. So while it might be one of the biggest Reubens available in the United States, it's also one of the tastiest.

10. Brent's Delicatessen & Restaurant: Los Angeles, California

Brent's Deli is an institution that has served Los Angeles for decades. While all classics expected of a Jewish deli line the menu, it is the black pastrami Reuben that draws customers back time and again. And, as Brent's most ordered sandwich, the black pastrami Reuben is not just a deli staple, but one of the most enduringly popular sandwiches in the whole of Los Angeles. 

There are many reasons why it has proved so popular. One is the quality of the house-cured pastrami; meat heavy on spices that marries perfectly with the acidic sauerkraut. Another is the bread as one customer noted (via TripAdvisor): "I ordered a Black Pastrami Reuben sandwich on Rye with Russian dressing. The rye bread was toasted to perfection, and the sandwich with sauerkraut was about 3.5 inches thick. It was probably the best sandwich I have eaten in a very long time." The deli also uses fiery Russian dressing as opposed to Thousand Islands, giving a further kick to this already audaciously flavorful Reuben.

11. The General Muir: Atlanta, Georgia

The General Muir opened in Atlanta in 2013 and three years later it was named one of the ten best Jewish delis in America by Condé Nast Traveler. Such an emphatic rise is largely down to the approach owners Jennifer Johnson, Ben Johnson, and Todd Ginsberg have taken towards Jewish food. This can be summarized as up-scale, modern, yet still culturally accurate.

This latter point is just as important to Chef Ginsberg as food quality, a notion he highlighted to Forbes: "My culinary philosophy is to keep it simple, but make sure the research and work is put into it. It's important to understand how, where, and by whom a dish was created or inspired. My goal is to make any dish that I serve, whether it's a Reuben, a burger, roast chicken, fried chicken or hummus, is the best possible version of that dish that I remember from my childhood or its place of origin [...] Particularly for a culinary genre that carries a lot of nostalgia, consistency is important."

The General Muir's Reuben typifies this approach with the classic option of succulent corned beef bringing in many positive reviews from customers. What's more, The General Muir also caters to nonmeat eaters through its fantastic beet-based Reuben, again proving that The General Muir is a leader in thoughtful, modern Jewish cooking.

12. Sam LaGrassa's: Boston, Massachusetts

It is hard to miss Sam Lagrassa's; on any given day lines of people will be snaking out the door of this world-famous sandwich shop. This is for good reason — Sam Lagrassa's makes some of the best sandwiches in Massachusetts. Among the extensive menu are several varieties of Reuben, with the original containing the traditional corned beef. However, at Sam LaGrassa's, it is the pastrami Reuben that reigns supreme.

Featuring a number of sandwiches, the Rumanian pastrami is made in-house via dry-curing and then smoking beef. In the Reuben, the complex, intensely flavored meat is offset by powerful Russian dressing in a one-two punch unique to Sam LaGrassa's. Those eager to add even more flavors to the mix can easily do so by including different proteins as this customer did (via Tripadvisor): "I chose the turkey and pastrami Reuben and WOW! Amazing sandwich..light here and thick there but delicious and an experience I urge everyone to try! It was a huge sandwich but I ate the whole thing and it was perfect."

13. Liebman's Deli: New York City, New York

As we have previously mentioned, modern-day Reuben is not kosher due to the mixing of dairy and meat, but that doesn't mean that there aren't any kosher options available. In fact, Liebman's Deli, which opened in the 1950s, continues to offer a kosher Reuben at its site in New York City. To avoid the mixing of dairy and meat, Liebman's removes the Swiss cheese resulting in a sandwich of toasted rye, Russian dressing, sauerkraut, and corned beef or pastrami. 

Excellent options like the Reuben makes Liebman's a haven for those following a kosher diet as one customer explained (via TripAdvisor): "It's one of the few traditional kosher restaurants left in the city, and it's a lot less touristic than Katz's. Furthermore, their Reuben Sandwiches are pure marvels! Order them with Pastrami or Corned Beef and you will get a fantastic moment of pure pleasure."

Liebman's leans into its kosher nature at every opportunity, making it a firm favorite of Jewish locals. As the number of kosher delis continues to decline, Liebman's also finds itself becoming a bastion of Jewish American culture. Fortunately, the quality of Liebman's products, especially the Reuben, would suggest this particular deli won't be disappearing any time soon.