Katz's Delicatessan in NYC - World's Best Pastrami

Discussion in 'New York Area' started by gleff, Feb 6, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. gleff
    • Original Member

    gleff Co-founder

    I grew up on Long Island, and one of my favorite things in the world is a good Jewish-style Delicatessan. Sadly, while there are a few outside of New York worth eating at in a pinch (and some of the better ones in Los Angeles certainly have their partisans), the best deli food can be especially hard to find in my travels. There’s certainly not any worth mentioning in my home town of DC.

    So when I head to New York I almost invariably have to seek out my favorite Pastrami, which comes from Katz’s on the Lower East Side.

    More often than not I’m busy, and have any number of restaurant meals booked and obligated, and so I’ll find the only chance to head over there being on the way out of town. No matter how little time I have left, it’s a must-do.

    I’ve written about Katz’s before, it’s almost always packed on a weekend afternoon and always delivers the goods.
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    They do have tables with waiter service alone the side of the restaurant. Otherwise, just send someone in your party to stake out a table while you wait for your food. The place to start is with the sandwiches, and each sandwich maker — known as a cutter since they’re slicing the meat fresh for you — has their own line. Do your best to judge the shortest, it’s usually farther in, though personally I always pick the same line, the guy who is an institution there and is usually in the background whenever there are TV shots of the place. Great guy, but he can be slow if he winds up chatting while helping one of the regulars.

    This is, of course, the restaurant used in the famous “I’ll have what she’s having” scene from “When Harry Met Sally.”
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    There are separate lines for sides like cole slaw and drinks (gotta go with Dr. Brown’s), and also for knishes and the like though I just had my guy grab a couple of knishes while helping me out with sandwiches in order to save a line.

    Now, I should say — in my opinion only their Pastrami is actually stand out. Everything else is merely fine, but not the absolute best in New York deli food.
    I had everything package to go because of time, even though I planned to eat in the restaurant.

    So the presentation wasn’t much. But I wasn’t there for the presentation.
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    The main event was of course the pastrami.
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    We finished our sandwiches, grabbed a cab and headed to Penn station .. arriving literally as our train came up on the board, and only after walking the last several blocks to the station because of traffic. Katz’s had nearly cost us our train back to DC, but it was certainly worth it.
     
  2. tom911
    • Original Member

    tom911 Gold Member

    When I was staying in Manhattan in December I stumbled into Ben's Deli on West 38th and was pretty happy with the pastrami sandwich there.

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  3. Canarsie
    • Original Member

    Canarsie Gold Member

    The next time I am in New York at the end of April, I will visit Katz’s Delicatessen at least once, as it is one of my all-time favorite New York delicatessens, and I intend to bring home a nice “goodie” bag, as I usually do when I visit New York. They pack my food quite well for the flight back to Atlanta from New York, notwithstanding the hungry looks on the faces of my fellow passengers.

    I know this is sacrilegious to pastrami aficionados, but I prefer my pastrami extra lean.

    Also, keep in mind that Katz’s Delicatessen is not Kosher, which should not make a difference if you do not keep Kosher.

    By the way, there is a mistaken impression that one cannot use a credit card to pay one’s bill at Katz’s Delicatessen because they do not accept credit cards near the entrance where one hands in one’s ticket before exiting. One can use a credit card to pay one’s bill if you go to the farthest part of the counter towards the rear of the establishment, as there is a register located there.
     
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  4. bk3day
    • Original Member

    bk3day Gold Member

    Carnarsie beat me to the punch about the ability to use a credit card at Katz's.

    Just remember to get your ticket back after you pay so you can hand it to the ticket taker and exit without issue.
     
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  5. TrueBlueFlyer
    • Original Member

    TrueBlueFlyer Silver Member

    I have yet to try Katz and I really should!
     
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  6. mjm
    • Original Member

    mjm Member

    Very willing to offer my services as a taste tetsrer should a head to head competition ever arise.
     
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  7. Mary2e
    • Original Member

    Mary2e Silver Member

    I would swear I saw a FB post yesterday from the Mill Basin Deli saying THEY won the best pastrami sandwich in NYC. I didn't read the article. Perhaps they divided it up by borough. However, they are kosher, and that could be the distinction.

    All I know is that I used to live around the corner from there and have been spoiled for life from their pastrami.
     
  8. sobore
    • Original Member

    sobore Gold Member

    HELP! Someone needs to close and remove this thread. I am a recovering Pastrami addict. It all starts with a simple taste and the next thing you know you wake up in a strange delicatessen with mustard all over your hands and face.
     
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  9. Canarsie
    • Original Member

    Canarsie Gold Member

    ...and I used to live in the Brooklyn neighborhood next to Mill Basin called — well — I do not believe I need to reveal that neighborhood for obvious reasons, and I used to often enjoy the pastrami sandwiches at Mill Basin Deli as well. I would certainly return the next time I find myself in that section of Brooklyn.

    Their pastrami is sliced thinner, but I do not believe they actually cure their own pastrami. Please correct me if I am wrong...
     
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  10. Mary2e
    • Original Member

    Mary2e Silver Member

    I'm not sure if they cure it themselves or not. But I should be there next weekend and I'll ask.
     
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  11. FlyinHawaiian
    • Original Member

    FlyinHawaiian Silver Member

    Katz's is very good, but more than one source has said that Langer's in Los Angeles has better pastrami. I find that hard to believe, myself.
     
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  12. carsonheim
    • Original Member

    carsonheim Gold Member

    I really love Ben's in Greenvale, on LI. I used to work in Wheatly Plaza as a high school student, and I think I may have sustained their profitability during the early 80s!
     
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  13. studio253
    • Original Member

    studio253 Silver Member

    In all the times that I've been there I've always been under the impression that it was cash only. Thanks for the tip.
     
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  14. swag
    • Original Member

    swag Silver Member

    I've found Katz's hit or miss. Never bad, but only sometimes great; sometimes merely good. I've never been disappointed at Carnegie, though I usually opt for the corned beef there.
     
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  15. RichardInSF
    • Original Member

    RichardInSF Silver Member

    Note that if you don't tip the counterman who makes the sandwich a buck, you'll get a wimpy sandwich. No one ever talks about this (although all the locals apparently know) and IMO it's a tacky practice which management should not allow.
     
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  16. Mary2e
    • Original Member

    Mary2e Silver Member

    mmmmmm Was there last night. Had the standard pastrami on rye and a round potato knish. I even bought some knishes to bring home and have frozen them, plus the leftover pastrami sandwich :)

    Anyway, I asked about curing, and the cure it themselves in the basement and are still definitely kosher. I didn't notice any additional business from the win. It was still mostly full of local residents getting their regular fix of deli. Perhaps because it's at the other end of Brooklyn :)

    As well, they have a new item on the menu - potato latke chips... Same latkes only thinner and a bit more crispy. It's a great appetizer if you don't feel like having a regular order because you want pastrami more :)

    I'm stil full.
     
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  17. Canarsie
    • Original Member

    Canarsie Gold Member

    Conversely, if you do tip the counterman, you get more pastrami to sample while it is being sliced for your sandwich...

    ...at least, that has been my experience.
    Thank you for the report. Despite all of the countless times I have patronized this establishment, I did not know that they cured their own meats.

    Of course, this prompts the debate of how the meat is cured. There are supposedly both traditional and time-saving methods. I will not venture any deeper into that discussion, as I do not know enough about curing meats to offer an opinion on which method is better.

    By the way, Mill Basin Kosher Deli makes a great matzo ball chicken soup with noodles. If you are not feeling well and do not have homemade chicken soup to help you feel better, that soup is definitely the next best thing...
     
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  18. JAbrams72
    • Original Member

    JAbrams72 Gold Member

    Disagree entirely. It's a different 'animal' so to speak.
     
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  19. Canarsie
    • Original Member

    Canarsie Gold Member

    The pastrami is made from a goat at Langer’s as opposed to a cow at Katz’s?

    I have never heard of Langer’s. Is it anything like Nate ‘n Al of Beverly Hills?
     
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  20. canucklehead
    • Original Member

    canucklehead Gold Member

    I love Katz's deli! I am torn if this is the best place for deli meat or Schwartz's in Montreal. Their Montreal smoked meat is legendary (and whatever you do, order the regular, not the lean stuff!)
     
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  21. Canarsie
    • Original Member

    Canarsie Gold Member

    Not knowing what to expect, I tried the smoked meat at Schwartz’s in Montréal and truly enjoyed it.

    I do not compare it to the pastrami at Katz’s Deli, however. They are different, in my opinion. It is like comparing pastrami to corned beef.

    As JAbrams72 says...
     
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  22. illico
    • Original Member

    illico Silver Member

    I was going to say the same thing...
     
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  23. SuperW2
    • Original Member

    SuperW2 Silver Member

    Only have been once (first trip to NYC last Oct)...I had nearly a full sandwich full of meat on the "sample" plate after tipping the counterman...Almost couldn't finish the actual sandwich...although I powered through it! :)

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  24. Dovster
    • Original Member

    Dovster Gold Member

    I want to go on record as say that Mary2e, who is otherwise a nice person, should not be allowed anywhere near a pastrami sandwich for the rest of her life.

    (She once attempted to poison me with one in EWR.)
     
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  25. Canarsie
    • Original Member

    Canarsie Gold Member

    Although records are coming back on a limited basis, you should go on compact disc instead of record.

    Better yet, you should go on .mp3 to say that Mary2e, who is otherwise a nice person, should not be allowed anywhere near a pastrami sandwich for the rest of her life.

    Now, does reading this nonsense that I posted here have you wondering whether or not Mary2e should have been successful in her attempt to poison you with a purported pastrami sandwich so that you would not have had to read it after all?
     
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