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Burger Meets Reuben in Utah’s Pastrami Burger

pastrami burger

Photo Credit: Zack Moreno/@aboyandagrill.

If you’ve ever heard of the pastrami cheeseburger, you’re probably from Utah. It starts with all the makings of a classic: beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion—plus, a quarter-pound mound of pastrami. Before it all goes in a toasted sesame seed bun, though, it is slathered with a Thousand-Island-style sauce known as fry sauce, also made famous in Utah.

If you’re wondering who to thank for bringing this marvelous creation to life, that would be the Katsanevas family. Michael Katsanevas immigrated to the United States from Kampous, Greece in the early 1900s. After serving in WWI, he gained citizenship and opened up a coffee shop in Salt Lake City. In 1978, his children opened the first Crown Burger just outside the city center of Salt Lake. The pastrami burger came to the Crown franchise in the 1970’s when another Katsanevas brother brought it back from L.A., where a Turkish-American taught him the recipe. Today, there are seven Crown Burger locations across Utah, all owned by different family members, and all serving the famous pastrami burger.

A testament to its popularity, the pastrami burger is now on the menus of dozens of dining establishments across Utah, including Astro Burgers, Apollo Burger, Lucky 13, and Chubby’s Cafe. Some restaurants in the area, as is inevitable, have created their own twists on the meaty staple. Wienerschnitzel puts it all on a pretzel-knot bun, while Arctic Circle replaces the American cheese with Swiss. It’s all up to the hungry diner to decide which is his or her favorite, and there is no shortage of options.

Sam Jones

Sam Jones is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Agriculture, Food, and Environment at Tufts University. She has worked on organic vegetable farms in France, Scotland, and Washington as well as on a chicken and pig farm in Colorado. She is passionate about telling farmers' stories and exploring the varied agricultural methods that go into making delicious cheese around the world.

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