The Sandwich Anthony Bourdain Craved Most While Traveling Abroad

The late Anthony Bourdain took us around the globe with his beloved cooking series, introducing viewers to new cultures and cuisines — but, like the rest of us, he craved the flavors of home when he was away. In an interview with Variety, Bourdain once shared what he wanted to eat most when he returned home: "The first thing I get when I'm back in New York is a pastrami sandwich."

There are a lot of delis in New York offering the specialty, including the famous Katz's Delicatessen (the spot featured in Meg Ryan's exaggerated scene in the rom-com "When Harry Met Sally"). Still, knowing that all sandwiches are not created equal, Bourdain was specific about where he would go for "the best," and that's Pastrami Queen, located on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan's Upper East Side. The deli website even features a quote from Bourdain, who called the sandwich "The real deal."

According to Bourdain, what made this sandwich so good is the "mix of fat and lean [meat]." It's served traditionally, on soft rye bread that's made down the street at Orwasher's Bakery, then smeared with deli mustard, and accompanied by a half-sour pickle. When he wanted to complete his homecoming, Bourdain would wash it down with a cream soda, the perfect combination of salty and sweet.

More about Bourdain's favorite sandwich

Although pastrami was created in Europe, it has become synonymous with New York delicatessens — by way of Texas' Jewish butchers. The smoked, salty corned beef is coated in spices and served warm and tender (if made properly). Unfortunately, most options found in supermarket deli cases are not "the real deal," at least in Anthony Bourdain terms.

Lucky for us, Pastrami Queen is still in business and has three locations in New York that deliver if you live within a 5-mile radius. Like most food in NYC, however, this sandwich isn't cheap, retailing at $24.50, although there's enough meat piled on the sandwich to feed several people.

If you aren't among the 7 million people living in New York City, you can purchase everything you need to duplicate Bourdain's most craved sandwich through Goldbelly. Starting at $65.95 plus delivery fees, two pounds of fully cooked and frozen pastrami can be delivered nationwide. The site also offers sandwich kits to feed up to eight people and features other quintessential New York deli items like potato knishes, matzah ball soup, and black and white cookies for dessert.

Another sandwich Bourdain loved

If pastrami isn't your thing, Anthony Bourdain shared another sandwich favorite on Reddit that he called "insanely delicious." At the Ace Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, Bourdain enjoyed "super crispy thin Sardinian-style flat bread smeared with butter, chilis, and bottarga." While he acknowledged this sandwich isn't for everyone, he stressed that it's delicious with a cold beer. The hotel's website doesn't currently list the sandwich as an option, but this can be duplicated at home if you splurge on the bottarga.  

Bottarga is a delicacy enjoyed worldwide, known by different names like karasumi, poutarge, and butarkah, and also often referred to as "the poor man's caviar." It's actually fish roe that is preserved by salting, pressing, and drying the sac so it can be shaved or grated. Bottarga dates back to ancient times when the technique was developed to make the fish (usually grey mullet) more shelf-stable. The salty ingredient is commonly grated on Italian pasta dishes, similar to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, since it adds depth and umami like soy sauce does in other cuisines. It can be purchased whole or grated in a jar at specialty stores and online.