Satisfy that craving for rye this fall in the Sierra.
By Troy Matthews, Elevation Eats
One of the most classic old school deli favorites is the almighty Reuben. What exactly is a Reuben you ask? Deli traditionalists will lay down the rules: a Reuben is corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing on rye bread. As we all salivate, it is easy to see why the Reuben may be the king of sandwiches from the classic Jewish deli tradition. Now may be a good time to clarify that corned beef is actually a Jewish, not Irish, style of meat preparation. But like all rules, the Reuben rules are made to be broken. Reubens have found a renaissance of sorts with restaurants daring to experiment with the formula.
The most common change is to swap out corned beef for pastrami. Others use dijon mustard instead of thousand island or leave off the sauerkraut. The biggest rebels, however, are the sandwich makers who throw these ingredients on something other than rye. Like all purist versus rebel arguments, this battle centers around a grand existential question: is it really a Reuben if it’s not on rye? Luckily, the Reno/Tahoe region offers a variety of traditional and rebel Reubens so that we can decide for ourselves.
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For one of the best delis in the region, check out Yosh’s Unique Deli, in Reno, a third-generation family owned business committed to green practices and smoking all their own meats. Yosh’s offers a yummy pastrami Reuben but otherwise keeps things traditional. Their delicious handmade sandwiches and salads capture everything we love about delis. They even have a “build your own” sandwich menu if you want to dabble in Reuben rebellion. yoshsdeli.com
On Tahoe’s North Shore, definitely visit the locals’ favorite, Crosby’s Tavern & Gaming, in Incline Village. This watering hole offers a massive bar with plenty of TVs to watch the big game. Belly up and check out their large gastropub menu. They offer breakfast starting at 8 a.m. The Reuben is huge, traditional, and messy with corned beef and gooey melted Swiss. Is there anything more satisfying than thousand island running down your hands while you pour back a cold craft brew with friends? The answer is, no! crosbyspub.com
For another messy Reuben experience, check out MacDuff’s Public House. One of the top local hangouts in the heart of South Lake Tahoe, MacDuff’s is a Scottish style brew pub with three separate bars and some of the best food on the South Shore. The Reuben features mounds of corned beef and is one of those sandwiches that’s almost too big to fit in your mouth. The sauerkraut has a bite, and the rye is subtle for folks who shy away from its traditionally strong flavor. macduffspub.com
Yet another fantastic forward-thinking deli committed to local organic ingredients is Bella Tahoe Catering & Deli, the Tahoe-inspired project of Chef Candace Lockhart. Located in Stateline, Bella Tahoe is a full-service catering company with a lovely in-house restaurant menu. Chef Lockhart’s Reuben is delightfully called “The Rubicon,” and is a tasty take on the classic. It features thinly sliced pastrami, caramelized onions, sauerkraut, dill pickles, stone ground mustard, and melted Swiss cheese on a toasted Panini-style marble rye. bellatahoe.com
Shifting focus from the deli to the bakery side of things, check out Crazy Good Bakery Café in South Lake Tahoe. This new bakery is located in a beautiful historic building at “The Y.” Already hailed as one of the best bakeries in Tahoe, Crazy Good Bakery features a rebellious Reuben-style croissant sandwich that is not to be missed. crazygoodbakery.com
Finally, McP’s Taphouse Grill located right as you hit the California side of the border is an Irish pub with 40 brews on tap, 20 huge TVs, and a cozy dining area featuring live music Thursday – Monday. Tapping into the Irish claim on corned beef, their Reuben complements a full menu of classic pub faire. mcpspub.com
Whether representing the traditional or experimental, the Reuben sandwich truly is the king of the deli. Local eateries in the Reno/Tahoe region know how to handle this mouth-watering staple. Here’s to good eats.