A taste (and I mean, just a taste) of sublime, tender, juicy pastrami prepared by Chef de Cuisine J.P. Carmona as an amuse at the Iron Chef dinner at Manresa Restaurant a couple of months ago fired up my pastrami craving. Otherwise, I have found to date no place on the West Coast, in either Northern or Southern California, that matches the platonic ideal of the pastrami from Katz's Deli in Manhattan (although The Refuge in San Carlos probably comes closest, notwithstanding the mildly spongy texture and slight cinnamony flavor).
I have generally been so impressed with the artisan sandwiches and salads created by the crew at Kitchenette, a little catering outpost on the edge of San Francisco in an area that looks like a cleaned-up version of Thunderdome, that I purposely manufactured a reason to be in the City on the day they posted pastrami on the menu. Yet even Kitchenette's pastrami disappointed. Too chewy, too peppery, with the necessary interspersed fat layers gristly instead of melty.
I gave up and ordered pastrami from Katz's on line (more feasible than begging a Michelin two-star restaurant to make me a sandwich). It suffered a bit in transit, and probably the first and only time I would pay over $20 for a sandwich, but it assuaged my craving for the time being short of actually flying to New York. I am not quite that crazy yet.
Other cravings that all seem to require travel, some farther than others: ramen, burger, pizza, fried chicken.