In this great nation of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year--so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around the country. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.

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[Photographs: Adam Lindsley]

As Save the Deli author David Sax has noted, the Jewish delicatessen is a dying breed. Until this month, there had really only been one great deli in the entire Pacific Northwest: Kenny & Zuke's in Portland, Oregon. But now with the opening of Stopsky's on Mercer Island, finally (finally!) Seattle has some magnificent pastrami.

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Head chef Robin Leventhal.

Four people we can thank for this: owners Jeff and Lara Sanderson, baker Andrew Meltzer, and head chef Robin Leventhal, who you'll probably remember from Season 6 of Bravo's Top Chef. Since this is a discussion of the pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, special praise must go to the chefs: Meltzer for the rye bread and Leventhal for the outstanding cured meats.

So which is better, the corned beef or the pastrami? Well, that's entirely subjective; each has its own merits. The corned beef is intensely beefy, almost like a good roast, with notes of coriander and cloves that enhance the meat but don't overwhelm it. Oh, and it's ridiculously tender.

The pastrami undergoes the extra step of being smoked, to make it even tastier. This is a boldly flavored pastrami. You'll pick up on the smoke right away—it permeates every moist, fatty crevice. The stray coriander seeds and peppercorns pop in your mouth as you bite through each luscious cut of pink beef.

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Whether you order the corned beef or the pastrami, you'll get a pile of thick-sliced meat rimmed with fat that melts in your mouth, stacked high between two slices of Meltzer's untoasted rye. Both meats are served hot with drippings from the pan, leaving them juicy without turning the bread to mush. The only condiment is a thin layer of the housemade whole-grain mustard, a slightly sweet-spicy addition that makes the meat sing, particularly the pastrami. I wasn't a fan of the pickles served alongside the sandwiches (they tasted fishy?) but hopefully they'll get that sorted out in time. This is only their first week of business, after all.

The sandwiches at Stopsky's deserves praise, if only because Seattleites no longer have to drive three hours south to Portland to find a great Jewish delicatessen. If you're near Seattle and craving hot pastrami, this is the only place I would point you to.

Stopsky's Delicatessen

3016 78th Ave. SE, Mercer Island, WA 98104 (map)
206-236-4564; stopskysdelicatessen.com

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