EVERETT — It’s on six-lane, high-anxiety Evergreen Way, so even if you’re not driving more defensively than the Secret Service in a Baghdad motorcade, the place is easy to miss.
OK, listen up: Maneuver to the rightmost southbound lane. Slow down a bit (there will be a jerk on your bumper). Keep going past the porno movie emporium, the nail and tanning salon, the used-car lot. Watch for a sign advertising a camera repair shop and hang a right.
There it is: Barney’s Pastrami Dip.
Proprietor Dave Barney gets his pastrami cured and smoked in the greater Chicagoland area, where they know from pastrami. He adds some spices and piles it high in thin slices on a crispy-chewy roll with pickles and a spicy mustard he blends himself. He also sells kielbasa, Polish dogs, Coney Island dogs and tamales topped with chili, but the pastrami’s the star.
If you’re sure you don’t like pastrami, stay in the middle lane on Evergreen Way and drive 52 mph like most everyone else. But if you only know pastrami as the pukey-pink pressed meatlike product sold in plastic pouches, check out Barney’s.
Sandwich shops like Barney’s are as common as chickweed in the East and Midwest, but not so much here in the Northwest.
For many of us, Barney’s Pastrami Dip will be a revelation housed in a gritty little storefront. Waiting in line to place my order, I half-expected to see Tony Soprano and Paulie Walnuts darkening the doorway.
Barney’s pastrami has the right amount of fat – not too much, not too little. Working alone, Barney warms the meat by steam, not microwave. He occasionally breaks into song fragments while he prepares orders.
You won’t wait long — Barney keeps things moving, even when the shop’s hopping busy.
You will pay in cash — Barney doesn’t take debit or credit cards. So be sure to hit the ATM first, but you won’t need much; whole sandwiches cost just $8 and could feed two.
There are a few plastic chairs and tables in the shop, but I took my sandwich back to The Herald newsroom to eat at my desk.
Happily, the paper wrapping showed just the tiniest amount of grease. The moist, fragrant, falling-out-of-the-sandwich pastrami went down well with the pickles — and I don’t even much like pickles.
I wouldn’t visit Jersey for a good pastrami sandwich, but I’ll definitely brave Evergreen Way anytime to stop by Barney’s.
Barney’s Pastrami Dip
5130 Evergreen Way, Suite 103, Everett. 425-259-9078
Specialty: Pastrami sandwiches, sausages, Coney Island dogs, chili
Hours: Open for lunch.