At its finest, the Reuben is a delicate balance of warm flavors; savory corned beef, creamy Swiss cheese, tangy sauerkraut and a plentiful dose of dressing grilled into an unavoidably delicious package. While its origins are disputed--either the result of a late-night Omaha poker game or product of a New York Deli owner--its stature is not. And now, we've hunted down the five best spots to enjoy one in our city.
Three Girls Bakery
5. Hilltop Ale House, 2129 Queen Anne Ave. N., 285-3877. While naming its Reuben Seattle's best might be just a little over-ambitious, this low-key neighborhood bar definitely has something more than the wide array of tap handles right. Focusing on the meat, Boar's Head beef is braised in Blackthorn hard cider and stacked amid freshly pickled red cabbage and housemade thousand island. More savory than sweet, the sandwich is grilled and then baked, taking on a different flavor that matches its creation. Tossed in with a basket of fries, it makes for a meal worthy of Hilltop's cask-conditioned beers.
4. Three Girls Bakery, 1514 Pike Pl. Ste. 1, 622-1045. The oldest business in the market started by women, this bakery and deli boasts "the market's best Reuben." And it's no lie. The Post Alley favorite only seats 13 around its L-shaped counter, but when the weather is nice, it's near-criminal not to take your sandwich in a brown bag and head to a sunny spot near the water. Choose between the light or dark rye (go with light) and wait for your Panini-pressed perfection to present itself. The strength of this sandwich is its tang--the dressing and sauerkraut nearly overpower the whole thing, but in a way that is wholly acceptable and undeniably addictive.
2. Collins Pub, 526 Second Ave., 623-1016. Though they don't match the braggadocio of far too many kitchens in the city, the Reuben's subtle presence on this menu shouldn't fool a shrewd connoisseur. Slip onto a bar stool or into one of the pub's high-backed booths, order a pint of one of the delicious and frequently rotating brews, enjoy tunes playing over the speaker system and ESPN on the tube--and grab a few napkins. It's about to get messy. This sandwich is plentiful in portion and flavor, and the understated simplicity feels like perfection. Just one more suggestion: substitute in the sweet potato fries. The only regret for that move will be the ensuing addiction.
1. I Love New York Deli, 5200 Roosevelt Way N.E., 523-0606. Seattleites aren't exactly spoiled with options when it comes to the feel and taste of a New York-style Jewish deli, but this cozy hole-in-the-wall is richtiker chaifetz: "the real McCoy." Each of their four varieties of rye breads are hearth-baked daily, sliced fresh, and hold up a perfectly crusty exterior that conceals their soft center and the heaps of corned beef piled between generous marbled slices. The portions are reminiscent of Carnegie Deli, and the taste transports customers straight to Manhattan.