Sandwich of the Week: Grilled Chipotle Pastrami at Sam La Grassa's in Boston

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Packing a whole lot of punch, this sandwich is a fan favorite at a true Boston landmark
Sandwich of the Week: Grilled Chipotle Pastrami at Sam La Grassa's in Boston
Francesca Borgognone

Chipotle Pastrami Sandwich

While planning my trip to Boston over President's Day weekend it became clear that rather than work a half day and leave straight from the office, I had to take a full day off. Why? I had to go to Sam La Grassa's, a family-run sandwich spot in Boston’s financial district. "If we leave at 1 o'clock, we'll miss it! They only stay open until 3 o'clock," pleaded my boyfriend, James. I couldn't really argue with him — our last trip to Boston, though a success overall, was a failure in his eyes because we didn't get there on time to try the beloved pastrami sandwich of visitors and famous faces alike. This sandwich would make his trip and give me leverage to make him go ice-skating.

In my defense, what kind of sandwich place opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 3:30 p.m. — oh! — and closes the entire weekend as well? This place, apparently. They’re so popular that that’s the last thing they’re worried about.

Upon arrival at the no-muss-no-fuss spot, it became clear that Sam and sons are pretty serious about their sandwiches. Get in line prepared with a sandwich in mind, because the line moves super-fast and all of a sudden you’re pelted with questions about bread, meat, and fixings.

With this particular sandwich, however, all one has to do is say the name and the rest is history. After the words, "Chipotle Pastrami," left James’ mouth, the gentleman making the sandwich got busy. Ten minutes later, a pressed sandwich appeared, with an aroma that was embraced by our anxious stomachs and a huge smiles.

Between the two sides of a sesame-studded Italian roll sat layers of thinly sliced pastrami topped with Swiss cheese, chipotle mustard, and coleslaw. With closed eyes, we ate our first bites and a simultaneous "mmm" escaped our mouths. The tender meat and the sharpness of the Swiss were practically holding hands with the near-perfect vinegary slaw. The chipotle mustard was the icing on the cake and the bread, which is made in-house, was the out-of-the-park hit that made this sandwich a grand slam, with its classic semolina taste and crunchy exterior.

Neither of us spoke until there were only crumbs left — and that’s no exaggeration. I didn’t even have to bargain about ice-skating after that; it was his idea.