Probably the most famous Deli anywhere, Katz Deli has been on my list of New York “must try’s” for years. Thankfully, I got to cross it off my to-do list recently.
When you go inside, you’re given a small ticket. Do not lose this ticket. It’s used to track your order, and you MUST present it upon exit, even if you ordered nothing. No exceptions. If you lose it, they will charge you $50!
It’s a little confusing to know what to do when you get inside. There doesn’t seem to be a specific spot to order, so you just step up to the counter, and place your order with the first available carver.And yes, hurried New Yorkers on their lunch break will push you out of the way if you just stand there like a deer in the headlights.
Katz is famous for their pastrami on rye, so thats what we got. We also got a brisket sandwich and shared them both between the 3 of us.
Now I must tell you that none of our group of 3 are typically fans of pastrami. On top of that, I hate mustard. So ordering a pastrami on rye with mustard seems like a crazy stupid idea, but when I go somewhere that is so famous for one dish in particular I have to have it. Much like when in New Orleans I had to try a muffaletta sandwich even though I despise olives.
Thankfully, this pastrami was unlike anything I’d ever had before. Thick cut pieces of fall-apart tender meat, gently spiced, and very juicy, it filled the bread like a skyscraper. The yellow mustard was more mild than I was expecting and didn’ t overpower the sandwich.
I usually find that when I am presented with a meal of ridiculous proportions, it’s done to distract you from the lack of quality. This sandwich needed no such distraction. It would have still been fantastic with half the meat.
This sandwich made a pastrami convert of all 3 of us.
The brisket sandwich also had mountains of meat on it, and while very tender as well, it was a little on the dry side for us. I kept thinking how fantastic it would have been to take home and serve open faced topped with gravy. The mere suggestion of anything other than the classic way may get you run out of town though, so I kept that to myself.
As fantastic as the pastrami sandwich was, I think what I enjoyed the most is the old school atmosphere of the place itself. It’s no frills, and is bustling with activity, which makes for some great people watching.
Katz Deli- more than just a tourist trap, it’s a New York City institution worthy of the reputation.