Our first ever showdown! For this maiden voyage, our mission is to find the best reuben in Tacoma, and we think we did. Hit “continue reading” to read the full write up!
This post has been a long time in the making. The brilliant idea of a showdown-style no-holds-barred food battle struck us very early on, we just wanted to wait for the right moment to tackle such an epic undertaking. We settled on the reuben partly from an earlier post about the MSM Deli, in which I get carried away about the reuben, suggesting that maybe it was one of the best in town other than perhaps The Swiss. I spent some time thinking about that statement, and realized how incredibly naive I was being. I hadn’t tried every reuben in Tacoma. How could I even begin to suggest it might be one of the best? Turns out it’s not. I am a dick. Simple solution: we needed to find the best. Ladies and gentlemen, this post is my redemption.
The reuben is such a simple sandwich: rye bread, sauerkraut, cheese (usually Swiss), and either pastrami or corned beef. It’s then grilled and typically served with Thousand Island dressing, and occasionally with horseradish. I could delve into the history of the reuben, but you are all perfectly capable of searching Wikipedia so I won’t bother. It suffices to say that two Jewish deli owners, both with the name Reuben (one last, one first) devised the simple yet tasty sandwich in the early 1900′s, who cares who was “first,” I’m just happy to eat it. The first reuben I fell in love with was at Kenny and Zuke’s in Portland. The pastrami was made in-shop, and it was mind blowing. If you ever had reason to look at my crooked-assed family tree, several generations ago my ancestors traded in their yarmulkes for crucifixes and changed our surname from Rubenstein to Robinson. That sandwich made me consider turning it back.
Enough of me waxing reuben, onto the Showdown!
We realize that while our restaurant selection is wide, it is not a completely comprehensive sampling of Tacoma reubens. Since publishing the video, we’ve already received several suggestions of other reubens in the area including those pre-made at supermarkets like Metro and Stadium Thriftway, the waterfront restaurants like Katie Downs and CI Shenanigans, and a couple other spots here and there. We purposely avoided the markets because while good, they just don’t compare to a made-to-order restaurant sandwich, and this website is in part devoted to showcasing local businesses and restauranteurs. The waterfront restaurants were a bit out of the way, less than spectacular in past visits, and expensive. Adam and I were able to put some of the reuben expense on our lovely guest judges, but we are largely still bankrolling this spruce goose. We did admittedly just miss a few too (sorry Capers); however, we do pledge to keep you updated. If we discover a reuben that usurps our showdown winner, then we will surely post about it.
- Dock Street Sandwich Company
- Doyles Public House
- MSM Deli
- Paddy Coynes
- The Swiss Tavern
- Top of Tacoma
The categories are largely self explanatory except for possibly the last: Squish to Crunch. This is essentially a texture component – how well the toasted (or in MSM’s case microwaved) bread held up compared to the ingredients. Was it impossible to hold? Was the sauerkraut soaking through the bread creating a soggy mess? Etc. The only thing missing in this document in the point system. Each category was out of 5, and the overall was a comprehensive measurement out of 30. My bad.
“New York style Reuben with your choice of grilled pastrami or turkey on rye bread. Topped with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and homemade thousand island dressing.”
“Dark rye bread, sliced corned beef, mayonnaise, mustard, sauerkraut, onions, lettuce and tomatoes. 1000 Island dressing upon request.”
Overall: Eat this when you want a club, or at least remind them not to forget the sauerkraut. 15.8
“Pastrami, ham, slivered onions, swiss cheese, seasoned sanekrant, 1000 island dressing, hot off the grill on russian rye”
Overall: Great at the Swiss, not as great as a take out. 19.8
“Lean sliced Pastrami with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and 1000 Island dressing on marbled drye. Horseradish on request.”
“House-roasted corned beef, swiss, sauerkraut and horseradish sauce”
“Corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and 1000 island dressing. Served on rye bread.”
“Organic whole grain bread with New York style pastrami, 1000 Island dressing, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. Grilled.”
It’s only fair to throw our vegetarian brethren a bone now and then (although they may be offended by that clearly non-vegetarian turn of phrase). My wife might have an aneurism if I don’t add a vegetarian category soon. This one’s for you my darling.
Cafe Dei - Vegan reuben
Cafe Dei is surprisingly accessible for meat eaters despite their confounded obsession with eating non-living things – that was tongue in cheek people, I don’t want to wake up to my car covered in tempeh and Vegenaise. Their sandwiches are big and flavorful enough to almost make you forget about the meat….almost, the Field Roast was killing me after a while. The one down side is the price on these vegan beasts. Most sandwiches are $10 or $11. Ouch.
The Red Hot - Reuben Dog
Haven’t had it yet, but I bet it’s damn good. I have a hard time straying from the Murray Morgan. I’ll work on it.
And as always, mention us and get…nothing. Just reubens…that you have to pay for.
Dock Street Sandwich Company
1701 Dock Street
Tacoma, WA 98402
Doyle’s Public House
208 Saint Helens Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98402
709 Pacific Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98402-5207
2220 6th Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98403-1049
815 Pacific Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98402-5229
The Swiss Tavern
1904 Jefferson Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98402-1608
Top of Tacoma Bar and Cafe
3529 Mckinley Ave
Tacoma, WA 98404-2162