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David’s Brisket House is an unlikely relic on a stretch of Nostrand Avenue mostly populated by 99 cent stores and West Indian delis. The space is narrow and dated, outfitted with mirrored walls (the sort mostly reserved for adult film sets) and ceiling tiles brown with the remnants of some ancient leak. It doesn’t have the fame of Carnegie Deli or the sprawling space and hypnotic neon glow of Katz’s. The clueless tourists and first-timers, the ones who order their pastrami with mayo (tsk) and request half sour pickles (tsk tsk), don’t come here. David’s is a place for locals and sandwich hedonists—the type who don’t mind the occasional visit from a neighborhood crazy if it means dining with the kind of mindless abandon the place requires.

The pastrami at David’s is fantastic — as salty and tender as any of Manhattan’s long-standing aspirants — but that’s not why we came. The main event at this Chowhound favorite is the Brisket Sandwich served, as owner Rashad Almas would have it, on whole wheat bread with a hint of gravy.

Almas took his place behind the meat slicer in 1988, taking over for his father who, he says, purchased the deli from the Zoli family in 1972. He runs a tight ship, entrusting the meat’s preparation only to those who have spent a minimum of six months under his careful tutelage. “Hungry people are angry people,” he says. “My biggest challenge is keeping things consistent.”

The meat, which is roasted rather than steamed to achieve a slightly caramelized edge, is the stuff of dreams. Piled, as it so generously is, between two slices of bread, the Brisket Sandwich isn’t intended to be approached daintily. Clutch your napkin if you must, but the David’s experience is one of exuberant sloppiness, a kind of culinary debauchery that is far removed from the grace and ceremony that has become inextricably tethered to the modern dining experience.

David’s isn’t without its hiccups. The pickles are a trifle tame for Gothamist’s tastes (we like ours sour enough to induce tears), the Jesus Juice, a blend of honey, sea moss, peanuts, cashews and some “undisclosed ingredients,” might be a tad undeserving of its namesake and the place, we learned too late, shutters at 5:30 PM.

Still, the man does right by brisket—he’s a mensch in our book.

David’s Brisket House
533 Nostrand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11216
(718) 783-6109