Details: Located at 205 E Houston St., New York, NY 10002. Official site is http://www.katzsdelicatessen.com/
As someone who was born and raised in New York City, Katz’s Delicatessen is, to me, a place a lot like the Statue of Liberty. It is a place to be avoided. It is crowded and filled with tourists, transplants, and self-proclaimed foodies who love creating ungodly masses of people who just obstruct the paths of the real New Yorkers in this town just trying to get through their day. It’s a tourist trap. In any case, like that time I decided to have an open mind and visit the Statue of Liberty and see what all the hub bub was about (the Statue of Liberty was a nightmare), I decided to give Katz’s a chance. Fortunately, my experience at Katz’s was a lot better than my experience at the Statue of Liberty.
Firstly, you should be aware of how to order. The ordering method somewhat reminded me of how they do things at a Cantonese dim sum place. There is only one entrance in and out of the place. When you walk in, they give you a ticket. Then you go to the counter to order from the cooking line. Every time you make an order, the person preparing your order will ask for the ticket and stamp on it somewhere. After you get your food and finish eating, you then exit from that same entrance you came in at and pay at the register there after handing the cashier your ticket. I overheard that if you lose your ticket, someone will charge you fifty dollars, but I’m not sure if that was true or just rumor.
Anyways, Katz’s is known to be your classic, Jewish, New York City deli. Accordingly, the main things to get are the Jewish deli meats like pastrami, corned beef, beef tongue, etc. I ordered the half sandwich of pastrami and a matza ball soup combination. Anytime someone made an order, the cutter of the pastrami would cut off a small sample and hand it over for the customer to taste. A small, but appreciated gesture. The half sandwich and soup combo cost me about twenty dollars after taxes.
I could say that this is the best pastrami that I’ve ever had, but that wouldn’t be fair. Prior to coming here, the only pastrami that I’ve ever had was from your local, New York City deli that came from a packaged, likely Boar’s Head brand that had been stored for who knows how long, then thinly sliced and placed onto a sandwich with mayo. The pastrami here however, is freshly made. It has more in common with American style barbecue brisket than the packaged, cold cut I usually get from my local deli. Katz’s pastrami is incredibly tender, fatty, and spiced and boiled to a pink perfection versus the American barbecue style that is spiced differently and smoked. I loved this pastrami, but I was glad I got a half sandwich because I was already getting tired of the taste by the time I finished it. I can’t imagine eating a whole sandwich. The thing was huge. It was an over sized sandwich served on two thin slices of rye bread and topped with some mustard. It also came with a plate with far too many pickles on it.
I’ve had matza ball soup before and did not love it. That did not change here. The matza ball soup was okay. I would not recommend it.
Additionally, you should prepare yourself for crowds. I went on a week day around 1:30 PM. It had a lot of patrons, but was not too crowded. I easily found a table.
Overall, a good place to get Jewish deli meet that I would recommend eating at exactly one time. This is still a tourist attraction and as such, the food is overpriced. You’re paying for the Katz brand really. It was worth trying only once.