Friday, September 28, 2012

Sam LaGrassa's: DDD vs. Reality


Corned Beef/Pastrami Combo, to whet your appetite

Before the first time I ever visited Boston, I looked for Boston restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and saw this:


The drooling commenced. Sadly, my first two trips to Boston included failure, as I was not able to get to Sam LaGrassa's (Boston: Beacon Hill) during their small window of business, Monday to Friday, 11:00 AM-3:30 PM. To tide my pastrami lust over, I got a pastrami sandwich at some random joint in JP that was open late before catching the Megabus back to NY. That was a salty mistake.

I finally pencilled in lunch at Sam LaGrassa's when a friend was visiting me from Dallas.


Be warned of the line:

But it really only took about ten minutes to get from the end of the line to food-in-hand, so don't worry about it. If you're in a real hurry and don't need to eat there, there is a takeout side with a shorter line.

Bustling with individual and communal tables, full of happy diners.
Make sure you know what you're gonna order before it's your turn!

After ordering my sandwich from Sam LaGrassa himself (he's right there, behind the counter), we got our food, but I needed to use the restroom, so I dashed up the two flights of stairs to the women's restroom (the men's is on the second floor), to one of the tiniest two-stall restrooms I've ever seen. In order to pull my pants up, I first had to open the stall door.

Anyway, the fuckin' fooooood:

Pastrami Traveler's: Rumanian Pastrami with dijon mustard, Vermont Cheddar, tomatoes, and onions grilled on pumpernickel

Eric had apparently never tried pastrami before. He almost ordered chicken, but I reprimanded him into this. He was grateful, though now he is spoiled for life when it comes to pastrami. Muahahahaha!  Foodie goal = accomplished.

Chipotle Pastrami: Rumanian Pastrami with chipotle honey mustard, swiss cheese and cole slaw normally grilled on an Italian sesame roll, but I got it with pumpernickel because pumpernickel rules

I could eat here every day for the rest of my life. I want to try everything here. I want Sam LaGrassa's to cater my wedding (and it's already in Massachusetts, how convenient!). I don't have words for how good this pastrami was. Katz' can go fuck itself, for one thing (even beyond the fact of how much less expensive a comparably sized sandwich is here than at Katz'). That 40-year-old stock is clearly gettin' it done.

Oh my god.  Look at this!  Jesus.

Even the pickle was awesome.  It was closer to a cucumber, less salty, less vinegary, divine.

Yes! The bonus side dish of fallout!   

And even the cole slaw is exceptional. I had just had shitty cole slaw the night before at The Barking Crab (a desperation, off-the-plan dinner), and the horizontal tasting accentuated my delight in having such good slaw.

I came back when another friend Katie came in town (Goddamit, I need more friends to come into town so I get around to going back more often). She got the famous Chipotle Pastrami but this time on its normal bread, the Italian Sesame Roll.

Chipotle Pastrami Sandwich


Was it better this way or the other?  Honestly it's just fucking amazing either way.
We split a Clam Chowder - $4.50

It was better clam chowder than I've had at a lot of places in town, but it wasn't good enough for me to suggest seeking it out or trying to make room for it when you're at SLG, since you'll need as much room as you can get for more sandwich. As it is, if one were being calorically reasonable, one would split one of these sandwiches with a friend, but they're just so good you want a whole one.

They have hot, fresh, big, ol' steak fries, and I got a side of Russian dressing for dippin' purposes.


I got a Pastrami Corned Beef Combo - $10.95

"Rumanian pastrami and 'fresh from the pot' corned beef with swiss cheese, russian dressing and cole slaw served on light rye."

I wanted to try something new and to try the corned beef but couldn't resist getting more pastrami, so this was my compromise. In terms of absolute deliciousness, I prefer the pastrami, but they are both great. The russian dressing was the shit though, and I could foresee a day when I custom order a pastrami sandwiches with swiss, cole slaw and Russian dressing. The rye bread was great, doing a surprisingly good job of holding together my sandwich, imparting some yummy rye flavor, while also treating my mouth gently and giving way enough to allow me to thoroughly experience all the flavors and textures in my sandwich.

Grilled Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Wrap

When my mother was in town this summer, she felt we were maybe not getting enough vegetables on out little Boston food tour, so she ordered this. It was nothing special (though it certainly tasted good), and so much at Sam LaGrassa's is terribly special, so don't bother with this.

When my friend Andrew visited me in Boston in June, we obviously had to go back. We split another Chipotle Pastrami plus one of these:


Southwestern Pot Roast Sandwich: "slow braised pot roast with bacon, pepper jack cheese, bbq sauce and chipotle mayo grilled on sour dough bread" - $10.95

They've been calling this a daily special for at least a year, not that you shouldn't hurry to get it, because it's good. It tastes like my mother's pot roast (plus bacon, jack cheese, bbq sauce and chipotle mayo), which we only ever had as Sunday dinner some Sundays. The sweet anticipation of Sunday pot roast throughout three tedious hours of church, the smell of it wafting toward me as I opened to door and came home before running up the stairs to quickly change out of my uncomfortable church clothes and into my eatin' clothes... now this is what I call a la madeleine moment.

God I love these people.

Result: DDD got this one right on the money.

Sam Lagrassa's on Urbanspoon



Things to do/see nearby:

  • The Boston Commons
  • The Granary Burying Ground (John Hancock, Sam Adams, Paul Revere, Crispus Attucks, and more)
  • The Boston Athenaeum is a short walk away with not only so many wonderful and/or old, nearly impossible to find books but also interesting art exhibits.  There's a section that costs $5 to see, but a good chunk is open to the public for free, and their restrooms are terrific.  I came back a second time one day just to use the restroom.


Nearby T Stops: Orange Line (Downtown Crossing or State), Green (Park St.)