Pastrami is probably one of my favorite cured meats. Done right, it can sometimes even beat out bacon. Shocking, I know. That along with porchuto and pancheta, I feel that pastrami is so widely available, it has to be my favorite. I dream of a fantasy land in my head where pastrami, bacon, porchuto, and pancheta battle it out to be my favorite cured meat. Swords would be drawn, injuries would occur, and limbs would be chopped, or in this case, sliced.
How did the pastrami become the victor? That would be because of a childhood memory I have. I remember my dad picked me up from school in his white tin can van. I sat in the back, no seat belt, no seats even. He handed me this sandwich. It was a pastrami sandwich from The Hat. For some reason, I still remember it — not so much the taste of it all, but the experience. It could quite possibly be the first time I had pastrami, and which is how I fell in love with it. It was special because for one, my dad never bought me junk food as a kid, second, I can actually say “my dad took me there”. I dream of having a son and telling him, “you know, your grandpa took me here when I was your age.” Something about having a sense of history and tradition, it is very special to me.
As an adult, I still frequent this joint for some of that memorable pastrami. The pastrami here is cut thin — a little fatty, a little salty. Perfect. I like to eat the pastrami burger mostly, but sometimes yearn for the regular pastrami dip — keeping it classic and simple. Finish that off with some greasy chili cheese fries, and I am set. That is my go to meal at The Hat. My cousin tried the BBQ beef sandwich. I had a bite — it was meaty. Nothing spectacular. It’s good for BBQ lovers, but not this pastrami loving fellow. The Hat is known for their pastrami, so why stray from that? I think they have pastrami fries, which I haven’t tried yet. Maybe something for a future post.
I also love their chili cheese fries. They pour on mounds of chili and handfuls of cheese over it. They let it melt and it is game over from there. You can also add chopped tomatoes and pickles on top. Hmm. Fries, chili, cheese, pastrami, pickles, and tomatoes? I think that will be a perfect mess of a meal.
Would I still love The Hat if it weren’t for my memory of my after school treat? Probably. But I don’t think I would associate it as something special. It was my first pastrami. Who can ever forget that?