205 E Houston St, New York, NY | Directions 1000240.722283 -73.987471
Neighborhoods: Downtown, Lower East Side
This is still my favorite pastrami on rye, and still my favorite Jewish deli. Nothing comforts like the glare of the lights and the merciless line payment system at Katz's -- except the gigantic sandwich awaiting you. Get a Cel-ray soda too.
Best pastrami on rye ever...blows Carnegie away! The scene is worth the trip alone, but bring cash
Sometimes called the Mecca of deli, Katz's is more accurately the Dome of the Rock of Deli: the sanctum sanctorum, the source and shrine of all that deli means in America. Go for the mystique -- but stay for the pastami.
It is the Mecca 4 Deli....It doesn't get better.... the food and the authentic ambiance !!!
I dropped by Katz's deli today and felt the experience needed to be shared.
Bad service and a lousy quality of pastrami that should have never found it's way on a New York Deli counter.
First, I noticed the overwhelming share of customers were "out-of-towners". Maybe 66% the customers were ordering take-out. That means the quaint system of everyone jocking in line behind a particular sandwich maker has devolved into something unworkable. Note: the original system was designed for customers ordering either individual sandwiches or a tray full. Now the majority of orders typically fill a huge bag. The sandwich makers simply can't keep up. But what does he care? His job is the same regardless. How could management not notice this problem?
35 minutes later when it was my turn I ordered a pastrami and the brisket had to be trimmed of three-quarters of its outer layer of fat and gristle, thus most of the flavor. That still wasn't enough to tame the nasty slab...so I observed something I have never seen at a proper New York Deli...the slicer started building the sandwich with thin, very thin slices. This slight of hand still wasn't enough. Later I discovered "finger size" pieces of gristle that could not be cut with a knife or chewed.
Over at the soda counter I had to wait another 5 minutes for the soda man to appear. He'd morphed into a Barista, making the gentlemen in front of me a cappuccino. A freakin' cappuccino at Katz's deli? Are you kidding me! But of course it takes the 5 minutes to figure this out, that the soda guy hasn't simply gone on strike. So now instead swinging by the soda counter and grabbing a can of soda...
Finally, I sit down (yes there are plenty of seats to be had, because remember all those take away orders of 6 and 8 sandwiches going off the New Jersey or Long Island?). Now I do the one thing Katz's probably hadn't counted on. I removed the rye and began to eat the pastrami with a knife and fork. Here is where the quality of the cured meat revealed itself to be inferior. Under cured! Full of gristle! and sliced too thin to resemble fresh smoked brisket!!! I'm not squeamish about eating my pastrami lean but there was more fat than flavor. More bad corned beef taste than pastrami.
Of course I complained. The manager was sorry I felt the way I did. So was I. Anyone who thinks Katz's Deli deserves a visit is a rube or is simply too young to know better or a complete schmuck. It's obvious that the day of the demanding New York customer has given way to the glutenous out of towner and the fawning tourist, all to willing to swallow whatever is thrown it him, be it the rude service or the sub-par/over-priced food. The folks a Katz's Deli are all too happy to oblige.
They have amazing sandwiches here. I love how the people here handle the orders, they are quick to ask for the order and quick to prepare them.
This is a New York legend that still lives up to its reputation for the best pastrami sandwich anywhere. Whenever I have to show a friend around I always bring them here and it never disappointments. While you have to try to pastrami, the corned beef is just as great. If you smooze with the people making your sandwich, you can get some extra cuts of meat on the side. Dropping a nice tip in front of them also helps.
The prices have gotten way too high these past years. I have been coming here for decades so I remember lower prices but still $16 for a sandwich is too high.
The "got to" place to take your out-of-town friends and family to enjoy great New York food.
I made a special trip to Katz' today by subway in 95F+ weather at 2pm, having researched them online, and gone to other delis in NYC. Security was very rude when I first got there. There is no signage whatsoever so that someone who is coming in for the first time would have no idea where to go or what to do. I walked in and was only given an entry ticket after I had already walked (slowly) passed the security guards that were sitting around doing much of nothing. Then, after getting the ticket I wasn't told where to go, or anything helpful, so that after moving off to the side to be courteous to others coming in, a different guard comes up and tells me that I either have to go to the counter or leave.
I had no idea what counter to go to, or whether there was/not table service. Having made a special trip out of my way to visit Katz, I will not be returning. Since I wasn't told where to go, or what counter, I looked around at the sandwiches that were on some of the tables, and quite frankly, they were certainly NOT bigger than anything I had seen at other well-known delis in the city. The prices are atrocious for what was coming out; in this kind of business - portion-size is a factor when determining price.I felt very comfortable in turning around and leaving, knowing that my business is worth more than being treated in a hostile manner as soon as I walked in the door.
Decent, but expensive – I've been to a lot of sandwich places lately, and this one was quite good. I got a Ruben sandwich, and was pretty thick and hearty for what I ordered. The only issue I have is I still feel the prices are a slight be inflated for the food. It's still a good Deli, but don't walk in there with $5. Haha
Quality Control is Gone – I still give it 3 stars because they do still make one of the best pastrami sandwiches in NYC, but here is a place that has become too popular for its own good that management no longer cares. I do say management because the staff are still hard-working as ever but the quality of the meat has gone down tremendously and that is the manager's responsibility.
There used to be a time when I would easily give this place 5 stars or the highest rating because every time I go there, they serve the best and freshest meats. It don't matter if it's corned beef, franks, or turkey, they are all good. Now, only the pastrami is good and all the rest is crap. I got food poisoning a few times from their not-so-fresh corned beef.
If you're a tourist, everyone will tell you to come here. But I must warn you if you order anything else other than the pastrami sandwich.
Best pastrami ever – I loved the pastrami in this place.
You do have to wait on line for a while but its worth the wait.
THICK sliced vs THIN sliced... – Bottom line with this review (forget about how many stars we gave it); you either LOVE THINLY sliced GARGANTUAN sandwiches (pastrami and corn beef ESPECIALLY) as are made at the rival - Carnegie Deli OR you like THICKER and more manageable sandwiches from Katz's. We personally prefer Carnegie Deli, but this is also a top notch quality New York deli of that type genre. It is "expensive" when you compare the size of the sandwich from both places as a Carnegie Deli sandwich can feed 4 people or more and make 4 lunches/dinners. We have only eaten here once because of our preference. MANY of who are coming in as tourist from outside of New York City are just coming because they FINALLY saw the movie that had a scene filmed there in 1989 - "When Harry Met Sally".
Phillip & Lisa
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