New York Foodie Adventure
Part 6 of ….
Lower East Side
Manhattan, New York City
205 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002-1098
Friday July 18 2009
When I asked what was the one thing that I should eat when I came to New York, the almost unequivocable answer to quintessential New York food was the “best pastrami sandwich ever”, the pastrami sandwich at Katz Deli on the Lower East Side.
Many delicatessens have come and gone, but Katz Deli is one of the only left standing after more than a hundred years of existence and still has that old-world feel in its dining halls. This Jewish kosher deli, started in 1888, grew famous for its salami during World War II and its slogan “senda salami to your boy in the army.”
Stepping inside Katz Deli is overwhelming at first: noisy crowds of people are lined up throughout the fluorescent-lit cafeteria-like room along the long deli counter, waiting to order, the boys behind the counter shouting about in the typical street-wise New York fashion. A chaotic world of deli mayhem and delights.
Passing through a turnstile, we receive a ticket at the entrance, which we are reminded not to lose as they were used for marking our orders on and would cost us $50.00 if we lose them. The staff obsessed about these tickets. The tickets are turned in at the register when you leave and used to calculate your bill.
Noticing the mayhem at the deli counter service, we decided to sit down by the wall where there was waiter service. I know its not the authentic way to eat at Katz, where you go up to the cutter (meat man) at the counter and place a dollar and tell him what you want and he trims it right there for you, but I really didn’t feel like waiting in that long line today. Service here however, is not the fine dining type but rather the curt, somewhat gritty “what do you want?” type attitude of the city. That was fine as we simply ordered our pastrami sandwich ($14.95) and it was quickly delivered to our table along with a side of pickles.
In addition to old photographs throughout the 120 year history of Katz and celebrities who have visited the deli, there is a sign dangling above the seat where you can sit where Meg Ryan infamously demonstrated her “acting” skills in the film “When Harry Met Sally.” Still today, thousands of tourists to New York City drop by every week to Katz Deli to “have what she’s having.”
In addition to their pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, Katz is also known for having some of the best hot dogs in the city, including the knoblewurst, having won several awards from New York magazines for the grilled, cheap delights. Each week, Katz’s serves 5,000 pounds of corned beef, 2,000 pounds of salami and 12,000 hot dogs in addition to chopped liver and tongue servings.
A mountainous heaping of juicy brined briskets of black pepper coated pastrami, hand sliced, gently smoked with a smear of mustard and placed between two slices of rye bread . The sandwich was luscious and generous: I understand why it is ranked among the best in the world. Stick with this and that’s all that you’ll need at Katz.
I was also happy to mark Katz off as the 2nd place I have visited on Anthony Bourdain’s List of “13 places to eat before you die.”
Tasty Chomps rating!!!!
4.5 out of 5 TASTY CHOMPS
The scene in When Harry Met Sally at Katz Deli on youtube: