I wanted a good old-fashioned deli-style sandwich delivered to my door today. I thought it would be easy. Every restaurant here in Toronto is hooked up these days with Uber Eats or Foodora or Skip The Dishes or their nephew with the 10-speed.
There are about three million people in Toronto. Six million if you count the suburbs. And I can’t get a simple pastrami on rye. Avenue Open Kitchen closed at 3:00. Yitz’s is gone forever. Schmaltz is locked up tight. Porchetta “asians” their sandwich up too much. Pancer’s and Montreal Delicatessen say I live too far away.
Thinking of too far away, I thought of San Miguel de Allende. I wondered if Don Lupe was still serving their Wednesday pastrami special. I had to know. I messaged Don Lupe’s owner Javier Robledo.
It just didn’t seem fair. We may have a larger Jewish community in Toronto than San Miguel’s total population and I can’t get a pastrami sandwich. And San Miguel is getting theirs…and a good one at that…at the town’s home of TexMex.
So how did a pastrami sandwich make it on to the menu at Don Lupe? I don’t really know the fine details but I can imagine it went something like this.
Lou Campese was sat out in front of Don Lupe one night when he looked over at his wife and said, “You know what this rum and coke needs, Kathy? It needs a new friend. It needs a good smoked meat sandwich to keep it company.”
A couple of weeks later, thanks to Lou’s prowess as one of the town’s most respected briners and smokers and his entrepreneurial spirit, Lou Campese had accidentally become a pastrami dealer and Don Lupe had a very popular new Wednesday special.
Things have changed a little since then. Lou and Kathy Campese discovered the pleasures (and prices) of Argentinean wine and are currently clinking jumbo sized glasses in Mendoza. Diego over at Smoked ’n’ Low on the road to Dolores (the same guy who makes Inside Cafe’s amazing pulled pork) is now Don Lupe’s pastrami dealer.
Don Lupe’s baker has also changed. The details I can’t share without thinking of a favorite line of my father’s, a line he borrowed from Milton Berle, a line he used every single time we’d visit our local delicatessen. “Anytime someone walks into a deli and orders pastrami on white bread, somewhere in this world a Jew dies.”
After Mesa Grande closed their doors, Don Lupe started sourcing their bread at Panio. The bakery has always had great sourdough. A rumor says Panio’s rye might even be better.
Don Lupe gives you lots of choices with your pastrami but I’m not sure all of them are available during the Covid-19 crisis. Usually, you can choose large or small. I, of course, always choose the large.
You can add Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, tomato and lettuce. Dress it with mayo, horseradish, 1000 Island or mustard. And side it with dills and potato salad or potato chips.
With such a tasty brisket, I like to keep it simple. Just Swiss and spicey mustard. Plus potato salad and dills.
Tomorrow is Wednesday in Toronto. An hour later it’s going to be Wednesday in San Miguel. There’s a brisket been bubbling here in the sous vide since Monday. It will help me get by until I can find pastrami here again. And if you’re in San Miguel and order Don Lupe Grill’s pastrami sandwich tomorrow, could you just email me that smokey, pickley, beefy aroma.
Don Lupe is currently open with a limited menu for delivery only. To order, telephone 415 121 3820.