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Posted on Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Change afoot for the Zingerman's Deli Reuben sandwich

By Jessica Webster

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The #2 Reuben sandwich now will be topped with locally produced sauerkraut.

For just the second time in Zingerman's history, the iconic Ann Arbor deli is changing the recipe for its Reuben sandwich. Now, when you order a #2 Reuben sandwich, it will be topped with locally produced sauerkraut from The Brinery.

According to a news release from Zingerman's, the change was made in order to align with two of its overriding principles — to provide locally produced food that is full of flavor.

Deli chef and managing partner Rodger Bowser explained the thought process in a news release: “Buying from the Brinery supports a small business that, in turn, supports local farms and other businesses, which coincides with our Guiding Principles of ‘building strong relationships’ and being ‘an active part of our community.’”

Sauerkraut from The Brinery is produced using lacto-fermentation, which involves preserving the cabbage in a saltwater brine. Zingerman's Deli sells a variety of Brinery sauerkrauts in its retail department.

The Reuben is made up of: Zingerman’s corned beef, Switzerland Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on grilled, hand-sliced Jewish rye bread. Until this switch, Zingerman's had been sourcing sauerkraut from United Meat & Deli in Detroit.

The only other time Zingerman's has changed the Reuben recipe was in 1992, when the deli began sourcing bread from the newly created Zingerman's Bakehouse.



Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 2:59 a.m.

@Clownfish; Based on your advice I went to the Star Deli tonight, plus this article gave me a hankering for a reuben, just not a $15 one. The review is as follows: Plus: Parking driving etc., - Park right there and free, no need to read any pedestrians minds to figure out if they were going to cross the street or not etc. Lack of Public Art - Had I not known that there was not going to be a phallic symbol I beam anywhere in the area, I may have not gone. On the other hand, I did feel safe about the fire department, but I digress. Price - 8.99 is certainly less than $15, plus it was all somebody should eat. I think the floozie friday gal would have split it. Corned Beef - Lean, tender and piled high. Sauerkraut - maybe too much? but you can always take it off, or slob it on your shirt. Russian Dressing - Good and the right amount. Minus Not wild about the bread? It wasn't bad, but didn't knock my socks off. Presentation - Shrink wrap a hot sandwich? Really? Why not a clamshell or a paper wrap? That was just gross. And hard to get it out of there without making a mess. Especially in a car, which brings me to the next minus. No Seating. Not in the deli, not in front of the deli, not at the gas station next to the deli and not at the park, because there was no park. So I ended up slobbing the sammich all over my car and my shirt in the Miejers parking lot. Help - The guy making the sandwich was prompt and friendly. The gal ringing me up? Not so much. I think I was keeping her from something important. So, all in all, a decent sammich, but the place itself leaves a bit to be desired. Maybe I'll try the bread basket tomorrow.


Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 8:07 p.m.

You should do a little spoof on "Supersize" and just eat Reubens from different resataurants for 90 days. I know youer cardiologist will thank you for it.

Linda Peck

Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 12:40 a.m.

Locally produced will be supported by me whenever I have a choice!


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 8:23 p.m.

I am loving the Reuben at the Pickle Barrel in downtown Jackson. Half the cost of Zing's and frankly almost better tasting (same corned beef source btw). Zingerman's sauce and kraut have been scantily applied last few times I ordered...which is only thing I order. The cost has become outrageous. We only go as a family 3 or 4 times a year. As for the new kraut --if the new kraut is like Bubbie's (available at Plum Market and Whole Foods) then it will be a hit with me. Bubbie's kraut is amazing.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

I am curious about what sauerkraut they previously used.

Jessica Webster

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

The deli previously sourced sauerkraut from United Meat & Deli in Detroit, makers of Sy Ginsberg products.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

@Eye Heart, Add Knight's(Pumpernickel) and Back Alley Gourmet to your list.


Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.

Yes, I was referring to Knight's Steakhouse. I've been going there for years and they have always had pretty good sandwiches. Try the French Dip sometime, maybe with mushrooms and swiss cheese. You can even get a prime rib french dip when it is available.


Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 3:04 a.m.

I'm assuming you mean Knights steak house? I love that place, but I would have a hard time going in there and not getting the cattlemens cut of prime rib. I'm never over there at lunch. Back Alley Gourmet is now officially on my list. My quest for the best sub-$15 reuben has begun.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

Thank you Jessica for writing this article. I now have several places to visit for a ruben: Star Deli Bread Basket Dimo's Whitmore Lake Tavern Al's Famous Deli French Laundry I'll add Aubree's to the list.

Jessica Webster

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 6:10 p.m.

It's part of what I love about stories like this - it gives people the opportunity to talk about their favorite local restaurants. I love Dimo's especially - I have had more than my fair share of their Georgia Reubens.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

Hey fellow poor folk, try Bode's Corned Beef House on Main Street in Plymouth (right next to the railroad tracks). Very lean & tasty corned beef sandwiches for $6.50, and a good-sized Reuben is only $7. Yum.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

Been there. Very tasty.

Josh T

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

Well I think this is just great! Congrats to the Brinery, Its good to have Zingermans on your side.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

I admit to feeling a bit alarmed when I read the headline - anything relating to Zingerman's and the word "change" does that to me. ;-) Well, like many others, I feel I'm being economically forced into the "90% Lower Class" by their prices. It's gotten to a point where, if Zingerman's DID somehow decide to lower the price on the #2 Reuben or some of their other most popular sandwiches, a riot might ensue.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

why dosen't just have a link to the zingermans propaganda site? Does Zingermans part owner of Seriously, try a new restaurant!


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

well Jessica I don't click to read your food & grocery page, so that is where you are hiding other food business articles, well why don't you hide the Zingermans related ones there too. Apparently the Zingermans ones are more worthy of the main page? So far what I know about your food eating habits is that you really liked Eve and Frita Batidos and Zingermans are your two favoroite haunts.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

But you talk about zinger mans once a week. For me its guys like stadium party store and pizza, Dimos, Ahmos, Anthony's pizza. I have never seen any stories about those places. Your regular ann arborites that don't have over $10 to spend on lunch, know these places and eat there. We know the proprietors and we like them to get some press instead of zingermans' who is reported on whenever they make 'toot' Your right zingerman's is national, so why don't you concentrate on some of our great local restaurants

Jessica Webster

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

Oh bunnyabbot. A quick perusal of our Food & Grocery page would show you that we talk about a whole wide range of interesting eateries in Washtenaw County. Zingerman's is news around here because Zingerman's is one of the businesses that defines the Ann Arbor food scene on a national level. (See Food Network, Saveur, New York Times, CBS News, etc etc)


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

I just almost had a heart attack when I saw this headline! But thank goodness, it sounds like its just getting better. ps. this IS news if you love Zingeman's and their food is TOTALLY worth the cost. It called QUALITY people.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

I can't help but think that Zingerman's should hire Ron Granger to travel the world and tout their excellence! Considering his numerous comments on this topic, it could be a win-win situation for both of them...and maybe us too.

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

That would be a great gig! I'm thinking "International Sandwich Ambassador" What can I say, I appreciate a great reuben, and great food in general. Though I tend to prefer Pastrami. And let's not even start about how difficult it is to find great Pastrami, and brisket. Most places don't even pretend to have good brisket - that's another art. I've made a lot of Reubens over the years. I've spent a great deal of time refining what I make. It takes really good ingredients, and they are expensive. There are no shortcuts. A great Reuben is one of my favorites, but I find most are salty, bland, greasy, etc. It'd be very educational to get a part time gig in the kitchen at Zingerman's. Maybe I should consider it ;) There are a lot of places in Ann Arbor where you easily spend $10-$12 on lunch. And I often think, "this wasn't that great and cost almost as much as a Zingerman's reuben, which would have been vastly more satisfying." Zingerman's is far from perfect. I find these days that the cheese on their reubens is often not melted (like back in the day), probably due to rushed kitchen process and not enough griddle time (though good cheese is often harder to melt than cheap cheese). But their service is always spectacular and they take problems very seriously. Great sandwiches are serious stuff.

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

Yep, they are expensive. Yes, they are smaller than they once were (we gluttons should march in protest!). But who makes a better Reuben within a thousand miles of Zingermans?


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.

Answer: Better...Hmm. Pickle Barrel in downtown Jackson and Mike's Deli in downtown Chelsea. What I love about Mike's Deli too is the owner is usually on site so quality control is superb.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

Whitmore Lake Tavern...yum! I'll have to try that, but it's so hard to go there and not order one of their wonderful pizzas. Ham & onion is the best.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 4:09 p.m.

French Laundry in Fenton. And they use Zingermans ingredients at half the price.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

I have not had a Zing Reuben in a while, but Star Deli on 12 mile/Telegraph makes a darn good one, as does Al's Famous Deli on Woodward. I think they run about $10 and I get two meals out of them.

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

TopCat, please tell us more about this sandwich.. The particulars on the ingredients, what makes it great. Where does the bread come from? I checked it out online and it mentions "thick sliced Swirl Rye Bread". That can be a great thing or it can be a meh thing. I've had swirl ryes that were basically just processed loaves - no texture, limited flavor, etc. The kind of bread that would quickly disintegrate if dipped into liquid.

Top Cat

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

Surprisingly, the Whitmore Lake Tavern.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

I have seen SMC in Zingermans deli before and it is my humble opinion that SMC should avoid deli's all together.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

Who is SMC? Sue Mary Coleman?


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

Why don't you just start a zingermans daily blog?


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

I'd rather see them start a separate section for people whose only mission in life is to go on message boards and post negative, snarky comments.

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 2 p.m.

The "Food and grocery news" section seems appropriate and adequate.

Mary Schlitt

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

Thank goodness! I thought they were actually going to change the "contents" of the sandwich. Local, Brinery sauerkraut gets a thumbs up from me.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

This is definitely not news

Dave M.

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

I've tried one with the new sauerkraut and it's very good. It does have a different flavor, and texture than the old one but I'd say it's better all around. It's a bit milder but yet more full flavored. Zingermann's vs. Bread Basket are two totally different animals. It's like the Chop House vs. Outback. Or Blimpy vs. McDonald's. Yeah you can get a steak for $30 or $10, or a burger for $10 or $4. Or a rueben for $15 or $8, but it's a different experience. I happen to eat at every place I listed, but they're different experiences. Zingermann's rueben isn't $15 because it costs them the same to make as Bread Basket's rueben and they are just greedier. No, the food cost of a Zingermann's rueben is much higher than Bread Basket's. In fact, I'd wager the margins on each sandwich at Zing's are narrower than at Bread Basket. Whether you appreciate where that extra money goes is up to the eater. If you don't appreciate the more expensive ingredients, then yes, the money is wasted on you. So by all means, go somewhere else. For me, it's definitely worth it. The main reason I don't eat t the deli more often is that it's on the other side of town from me. :P

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

Well said. If you want cheap, go to subway. Though last time I was there, a footlong BMT was $8. And that's basically low grade "pink" salami, with lots of fillers and nitrates - garbage food. The cheese is absolutely awful and tasteless. And despite being a "foot long", it was just lunch. So, yeah. I'd much rather eat half of a $16 Zingermans reuben than a whole $8 subway. No contest, not even close.

Top Cat

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

Sorry but you don't know what real deli is until you've lived in the NY Metro area. Zingermans is over priced and over rated. But they sure are one good marketing machine.

Jimmy McNulty

Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

Tarrytown Deli, Westchester. Great chopped chicken liver.

Jessica Webster

Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

My favorite NY deli is Katz's. Second favorite is the 2nd Avenue Deli. I was sorely disappointed with my experiences at The Carnegie Deli (the bread, especially), and the Stage Deli was just so-so. What's your favorite NY Deli, Jimmy McNulty?

Jimmy McNulty

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

@Top Cat, you're right. @Paul Wiener, you scored a bullseye with that one. It certainly is the Kool Aid here in AA. @Jessica Webster, its nice that you are a tour guide to a few visiting New Yorkers every once in a while, but have you ever experienced a NY deli for yourself? Prices may be comparable, but I will take the quantity and substance of any self-respecting NY deli any day. Oh yes, and thank you for letting Top Cat have his opinion, too.

paul wiener

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

You're putting it very mildly. It took me about 2 weeks after moving here to realize that Zingerman's has somehow hypnotized Ann Arbor into believing their hype and paying their prices. I don't know how they did it: it's their one true claim to fame and emulation. I chalk it ip to A2's isolation, upscale indifference and academic nostalgia, passivity and cupidity. But you don't even have to go as far as NYC to experience the deception. Virtually any deli Z sells is available in any large city that has a Jewish population - Detroit, Chicago, Philly, Atlanta, Pittsburgh - about 30-40% cheaper, with larger portions, more sides, better bread and less waste. As for their bagels - they've got to be kidding. It's been a fantastic disappointment to me


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

Zingerman's is great, but the best corned beef in the area is at Star Deli, a small take out restaurant, in Southfield.

Jessica Webster

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

Top Cat - you are certainly entitled to your opinion, and I am not saying that you're wrong, but I will say that I am regularly called upon to ferry visiting New York-based musicians to Zingerman's Deli. Just last week I brought a group of dyed-in-the-wool NY foodie musicians to the deli. We shared a Reuben and a few other sandwiches, and everyone was raving. Actual quotes: "Best Reuben I've ever had!" "It's almost impossible to find good rye bread in New York anymore." FYI - the price of a Reuben at the Carnegie Deli is $24.95.

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

But this isn't the NY Metro area - thank god! - is it? If you are offering to bring me back a deli order from NYC, please let me know. I'd like to place an order. Who makes a better Reuben within a thousand miles of Zingermans?


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

did they not have sauerkraut in the old sandwich ...

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

Did you not read the article, which covered this thoroughly?


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

Who cares!


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

This *is* news, and you know why if you've ever had one. I have to say, even with the price, this is the best ruben I've ever had. Easily enough for 2 meals (if you get a full) and absolutely delicious. Adding sauerkraut from the Brinery can only make it better. I'm glad to see Zingerman's stay committed to supporting local businesses. Now if they'd just work out a sandwich with Brinery kimchi...


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

$20 for a sandwich? You could feed a family in Africa for a month with that and get good karma. No thanks.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

What do Zingerman fans have against hungry people in Africa?


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

hey smokeblwr: [citation needed]

Ed Kimball

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

How did the price get from $12.99 ("nosher" size) or $15.50 ("fresser" size) to $20??? And even the smaller size can be enough for two people if they're not big eaters!


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : noon

This is more than the 2nd change of Z's Reuben. It used to be about double the sandwich filling the first 5-10 years. Albeit it was too big to put ones mouth around back then, at least it made their high prices more reasonable.


Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

All their sandwiches are of varying size and quality. When they are good they are great, when they are not they are a rip off. don't get me wrong, I'm not a Zingerman's hater at all, I appreciate their quality and, when the quality is there, I have no issue with the price. But when you get fatty scraps of corned beef, that's a problem. I would suggest contacting them when you get something really bad - they are incredibly generous with irritated customers.

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

This is absolutely true. It's unfortunate that the size has come down, even as the price has nearly tripled. I can remember when they were $6 and huge.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

Yes, I remember the sandwiches being more meat than bread, back in those days. I still love them, but I find myself hitting Dimo's or the Bread Basket more often these days.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

This is news? It appears that Zingermann's must have a lobbyist who's sole client is


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

I agree, Newbster. Although the Ann Arbor Observer is right up there too. That monthly full-page ad buys a lot of stories!

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

Yup. It's news, for many of us who live in this town. Zingerman's is an institution. These days, few *states* have a great deli. So to have a great deli in our town is a big deal. And in terms of sandwiches, you need great ingredients to make a great sandwich. If a shop isn't making their own world class bread or sourcing it from a world class bakery, they're basically a pretender.

Jimmy McNulty

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 11:17 a.m.

$15.50 is a lot for a sandwich. I like Zingerman's, but I just am not a habitual customer. Try the corned beef reuben at the Bread Basked Deli, it is much more reasonably priced and quite tasty.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

Back Alley Gourmet makes great sandwiches at half the price

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

The bread basket is not bad, and I recommend it with limits - the corned beef is decent but the rest is so-so.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

large sandwiches at dimos for maybe $10

Ron Granger

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

No way, Ed. I've always ordered the large size - for decades - even before there were sizes. I feel the sandwich was a bit larger years ago. I feel they skimp a bit on the meat now... And I don't think that opinion is due to any increase in my gastronomic prowess. Still, it is a great sandwich.

Ed Kimball

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 12:27 p.m.

Yeah, but if you order the $15.50 ("fresser" size) sandwich, you easily have enough for two people. $7.75 per person seems reasonable enough.