Katz’s Deli, At Last

I had quite the lineup of recipe-filled posts ready to go up on the tasty tRuth this week. But then! Then I ate at Katz’s Deli–New York City’s restaurant institution if ever there was one–and I knew that post needed to go up first.

Katz’s is important. For one, it makes the top five of just about every tourist’s must-visit list. Most New Yorkers have eaten there at least once, and if they haven’t, they have a good reason for it. And lastly, it’s been around since 1888. There aren’t many things that have been around that long any more.

Katz’s Deli made my must-visit list after I took a class in college called “Foods in Judaism,” in which I learned the importance of said cuisine in NYC and of the infamy of Katz’s. When I moved to New York, I found myself walking past the deli on several occasions, but was never in the mood to dish out $17 for a sandwich and an elbowing-fest with crowds of unknowing tourists. Plus, I had made friends who swore there were better delis than this. In my mind, I slowly became better than a visit to Katz’s, and the prospect disappeared into the dark back corners of my mind.

But then, one fateful day earlier this week, I found myself standing below the giant white “Katz’s” marquee with an appetite and a friend who swore on the deliciousness of the famed pastrami on rye. We entered.

I got the elbowing-fest that I expected, though the place was much less crowded than one might guess it to be at 2pm on a weekday. Not to mention it took literally sixty seconds for us to get from the door to holding a hot sandwich in our hands. I got the steep bill, too, though splitting a sandwich for $8.50 each proved to be a perfectly filling compromise.

And I got the best pastrami on rye I’ve ever had in my life.


 Now, I’m no pastrami aficionado. Consuming copious amounts of red meat has never been my thing. But I will tell you, after one bite, every recollection of pastrami sandwiches I had faded instantly. The meat: the meat! It melted in my mouth. The mustard: we ordered ours with, and I was happy to find an entire bottle at the table, too. The bread: I would have preferred it toasted, but maybe that’s not kosher.

Maybe one day I’ll eat a tastier pastrami on rye. Maybe it’ll be cheaper. Maybe the place will be less overwhelmed with tourists. But until that day comes, Katz’s is my reigning New York City deli.


  1. Sasha says:

    Congrats on finally making it there. I felt the same sense of accomplishment after my first (and only) visit too. I actually found the pastrami kinda tough and salty… but I’m not aficianado either so pastrami’s just probably not my thang. And that scene from When Harry Met Sally! Who could forget 🙂

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