It’s that time of year again to wear green and celebrate all things Irish…..even if they aren’t really Irish! Like corned beef and cabbage, it is tasty, yes, but rarely eaten in Ireland on St Patrick’s Day as a celebration dish.
In Ireland, most people ate pig, lots of bacon, and lots of sausage. Corned beef was made popular in New York bars at lunchtime. The bars offered a 'free lunch' to the Irish construction workers who were building NYC in the early part of the 20th century.
But there's no such thing as a free lunch. You had to buy a couple of beers or shots of whiskey to get that free lunch. And that's how corned beef became known as an 'Irish' food. Then there is the theory that the Irish got to New York and couldn't find their beloved bacon, so they started eating their Jewish neighbors' corned beef instead.
One thing we know is that Ireland knew how to rock the corned beef. Corned beef was, in fact, a major export of Cork from the 17th century, shipping it all over Europe and as far as the British West Indies. Most of the Irish who came in massive waves to America during the Potato Famine in the late 1840s were from around Cork, so they probably knew corned beef well enough.
But they may have been trying to forget altogether what they were and weren't eating back in Ireland. I know that this was true with my Grandmother Agnes Smith. She came to the US from Scotland in 1907 and was very embarrassed to be an immigrant. She and her parents and seven siblings worked hard to lose their accent and Scottish ways (except for the wearing of the Orange on St. Patrick’s Day).
Another thing to discuss today is: What is the difference between corned beef and pastrami?
The short answer is that both are made from beef brisket. The biggest difference is that pastrami is smoked after curing, and corned beef isn't. Pastrami is usually cured with a dry rub, and corned beef with a brine solution.
So in honor of St. Patrick's day we're featuring six local businesses that serve pastrami, or are celebrating the day with special deals. We also have three with corned beef. So whether you are cooking, sharing sandwiches, or stopping in for good Irish brew, Erin Go Braugh (Ireland Forever)!
1) -- Pizza Joe's in Altadena has been in business since 1986. This family-owned-and-operated restaurant makes all its pizzas from scratch. It has become a fixture in the Altadena community thanks to its delicious pizza specials, sandwiches, and salads. This is my family’s favorite pizza. Try the small or large antipasto salad with their amazing Italian dressing. There are a couple of tables inside. Free delivery is available in Altadena.
2287 N. Lake Ave., Altadena T: 626-797-1081
Hours: M – Thu. 10 am – 10 pm, Fri, Sat 11 am – 11 pm, Closed Sunday
DEAL: Not quite corned beef, but they have a good pastrami sandwich. PIZZA – Try one with pepperoni, mushroom and pepperoncini, YUMMY
2) -- Everest Restaurant in Altadena serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. This family owned restaurant has a wide range of breakfast selections. They also get rave revues for their fried zucchini, chili fries and pastrami sandwiches. Everest is a fun spot and a favorite with the local community. It has a convenient location and there is plenty of free parking. Eat inside or take out.
2314 Lake Ave., Altadena T: 626-797-8204
Hours: M – Thu. 7 am – 10 pm, Fri, Sat 7 am – 11 pm, Sunday 8 am – 10 pm.
DEAL: Pastrami Sandwich – a big one!
3) -- Quiznos in Altadena is a good spot for subs, soups, salads and more. The menu feature subs served on toasted artisan breads. It also has salads, box lunches and party trays. Quiznos is great for catering your next party and it offers fast delivery.
2333 Lake Ave., Altadena T: 626-797-8650
Hours: Mon – Sat. 10 am – 9 pm, Sunday, 11 am – 8 pm
DEAL: Any large sandwich, including pastrami, for $5.00. “Choose Two” Special, 2 bullets, sandwiches, or combo with soup or salad for $5.50
4) -- Rancho Bar in Altadena has been serving cocktails and hospitality since 1953. The bar is open daily and is a great place to unwind with the locals after work and on weekends. It has different occasional events, including karaoke on Tuesday nights.
2485 N. Lake Ave., Altadena T: 626-798-7634
Hours: Daily 11 am – 2 am
DEAL: St Patrick’s Day Special – GREEN BEER – Bud or Bud Lite, $8.00 per pitcher, all other beers, $14.00 per pitcher
5) -- The Ale House has been recently renovated and was formerly known as "The Pub." The bar has a cozy, convivial atmosphere, and has great beers on tap. The owners pride themselves on serving fine French wines, and on serving beer poured correctly and at the right temperature. The Ale House holds regular events, including wine tastings.
2329 N. Fair Oaks, Altadena T 626-794-4577
Hours: Daily 5 pm – 1:30 am, Weekends 3:00 pm – 1:30 am
DEAL: St. Patrick’s Day Celebration! Open early from noon to 1:30 am. Corned beef and cabbage served. Also featured is “the best Guinness in the Pasadena area”, Harp’s Lager and a locally brewed Red Irish Ale.
6. -- Fair Oaks Burger in Altadena is a popular family owned hamburger and fast food restaurant. Their large menu features lots of local favorites including the Fair Oaks Burger Combo. They also have many Mexican and Chinese food items to choose from. The food is good, the portions are generous and the prices are affordable. The restaurant is takeout or has indoor seating, and outdoor seating too. There is plenty of free parking.
2560 N. Fair Oaks, Altadena T: 626-398-3690
Hours: Mon – Sat 7 am – 8 pm, Closed Sundays
DEAL: Fair Oaks Burger Combo (burger, fries & drink for $3.99) and they also serve amazing Pastrami sandwiches.
-- 900 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena (corner of Lake and Altadena) T: 626-798-4737 – Corned beef and cabbage served from 11am until 2 pm.
--2470 N. Lake Ave., Altadena T: 626-797-2740
Corned beef sandwiches and Reuben sandwiches on your choice of bread.
-- 2352 Lake Ave., Altadena T: 626—797-9430
“Excellent” corned beef sandwiches, and Reubens.