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.