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Jan 5, 2006 09:10 AM

Pastrami Alert - Stay Away from Carnegie Deli

  • k

Had friends in from out of town and they wanted to visit the Carnegie Deli for a sandwich. Although I wan ambivalent I brought them there just to be a good host.

Results: TERRIBLE FOOD, BAD SERVICE and they only take cash - which means you will need to carry several hundred dollars for dinner.

How could such a sub-mediocre place continue to thrive?

Seriously, the Pastrami was the worst that I have ever had.

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  1. I've never been a fan of Carnegie because I think the food is pretty awful. Note, though, that Katz's also only takes cash. But the pastrami is sublime!

    6 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      You should have taken them to Katz's. CD is strictly a tourist trap. Mediocre food at best.

      Plus it lacks the old world charm of Katz's.

      1. re: RGR

        I'll let you in on a well hidden secret. Katz's does take credit cards. Just not up front at the cash register, but back by the Salami sales. They then mark your ticket so you can return it as you leave past the guy that gives out the tickets. You don't have to wait at the cash resgister line.

        1. re: bobjbkln

          Do they take them only if you get salami, hot dogs, knoblewurst, etc. by the lb. to go? Or if you've had table service/counter service as well?

          1. re: CornflakeGirl

            I have used a credit card when purchasing the ONLY pastrami worth consuming.

            1. re: CornflakeGirl

              I know they will take them for table/counter service - I do not know if there's a minimum charge.

              1. re: CornflakeGirl

                They will take it for anything.

          2. several hundred dollars?? thats alotta crappy pastrami

            1. Ok so the pastrami is bad.. I have only been once and did not like the place...felt like an overpriced tourist trap to me. (Prefer Katz or even Sarges until the 2nd Ave Deli opens)

              But friends from out-of-town want to go here (reminds me of Kupferanga's situation) ..what is their best sandwich? How is the corned beef?? They must have somthing good in order to remain around for so long, no??

              1 Reply
              1. re: erica


                the CD is not like it used to be but it is still a great place to bring out of towners. the pastrami is still very good but when compare the the Mecca of Meat - Katz's everything is second tier. Jfood goes there at least once a year for a fix, usually the week after the cardiologist appointment. :-))

                The thing he misses the most is the old time waiters, they were straight from the Borscht Belt. Now the staff is more diverse and ordering a sandwich is just not as much fun, "you vant dat on seedless?" Oh how jfood misses that eastern european question.

                And to the question of what to order, go for the "Woody Allen" and split it. Jfood has eaten one by himself but it was a heck of an afternoon upon returning to the office. The fries are also fat wedges cooked cripy outside and moist inside.

                Yes, it's a tourist trap, but watching the faces of the people when they see the double-deckers hit the table is priceless.

              2. uh, yeah. It's miserable there...just about everything about it actually: food, service, lines, cost.

                13 Replies
                1. re: dkstar1

                  I will do my best to convince my visitors to go to Katz. I am still puzzled as to how Carnegie can stay in the clientele virtually all tourists??

                  1. re: erica

                    i disagree...i think its second only to katz's for pastrami or corned beef...but i only get it delivered...usually for lunch meetings.

                    1. re: erica

                      Just tell your visitors that it was in Katz's where they filmed that famous orgasm scene in When Harry met Sally.

                      1. re: ajs42548

                        If you look at any NYC tourist guide, the Carnegie Deli is made out to be the place where all the famous people have gone and things of that sort. Katz's is mentioned, but almost always later in the deli restaurant section. It's easy to stay in business when Foder's is giving you free advertising. Look at it this way, if the tourists all pack into Carnegie, shortens the wait for a spot at good places like Katz's for those of us who know

                        1. re: JSHAFT78

                          plus look at the location on 7th ave, its tourist central. you think the average tourist has any idea where E Houston street is, much yet pronounce it correctly.
                          Katz's rules.

                          1. re: JSHAFT78

                            The situation with Carnegie is exactly the same as with Tavern on the Green, i.e., listed in Fodor's, Frommer's, etc., as *the* place for tourists to go for deli and, in the case of TotG, "fine" dining. Yeah, right! lol

                            P.S. to ricky7: If you've ever looked at my LES food tour, the first stop is Katz's, and I make it a point to tell visitor exactly how to pronounce "How-stun" St. :-)

                            1. re: RGR

                              I've looked at the tour and vow to do it. Just hope I can do so before it gets too cold this year. Love some of the places listed and am curious about others. If I want to pace myself for the other places, do I skip Yona Schimmel, in particular to leave room for Katz's and Russ & Daughters? Would your opinion change if I told you I am a mere 2 subway stops from Knish Nosh, so it's not as if I would end up going without knishes, anyway?

                              1. re: Shayna Madel

                                Shayna one, your instincts are shayna as well- skip Yonah, keep room for Katz's and Russ/Daughters. Circle back up to Ave. A and 7th for an egg cream for dessert. And besides, Knish Nosh's knish is so far superior to Yonah Schimmel's that you'll just be mad that you bothered.

                                1. re: addictedtolunch

                                  I have had Yonah, don't hate them, but don't think they're so incredible that I have to have them and think I would much rather have fabulous deli meat and appetizing. I have a good appetite, but power-eating can only take me so far, especially since the person I am going to talk into doing this with me is my sister, the gastric bypass patient, who lost about 120 lbs and has kept it off for nearly 5 years and she is sometimes not able to participate in food sharing...

                                2. re: Shayna Madel

                                  Well, I haven't been to Knish Nosh, so I can't compare. The reason Y.S. is on the tour is that it's a NYC institution. But I admit the knishes can be hit or miss, so if you want to miss it, by all means....

                                  I think it's best to take the tour with at least one other person so you can do a lot of sharing.

                                  Also, since Russ & Daughters is strictly take-out and you live in NYC, you can skip over it at the beginning, then circle back at the end and buy stuff to take home. If you decide to do that, then take home some bialys from Kossar's as well.

                                  1. re: RGR

                                    Thanks for the info. I fully understand why you include it and probably would myself. As I said, don't hate them, was just trying to figure out how to make choices. Probably will be lulled into picking up some of the red cabbage ones. I get very tempted when I go on food excursions.

                                    I just have to get to R & D one way or the other, as Mom still proudly talks about how great the stuff was when she catered in my brother's bris 45 years ago! I am craving sable and a decent bialy as I type. You would think we could get good bialys in Forest Hills, but no, and no Jewish corn bread around here either, but that's another story.

                                    My sister's 15-year old son loves "adventures" and he can easily help us pick up the eating "slack," especially if he knows Economy Candy is on the itinerary.

                              1. re: thegreekone

                                this is a hiperbolic pose. i was at carnegie hall today and i went to CD and had the pastrami - i had never been in the 16 years i've lived in NYC because i live next to Katz's but i needed to confirm the thread....The pastrami was not bad at all, the place is not nice, doesn't have Katz's charm, service is pretty bad and is overpiced BUT the pstrami is very good. PLEASE try to be a little fair when judging food...

                        2. I ended up going to Carnegie last night. Three friends were very happy with their pastrami sandwiches. (I did not taste so cannot comment) I decided to try the combo of brisket and corned beef...I think it is called Woody Allen. Both were fair..I am not sure if it is my changing taste or the fact that the corned beef did not taste luscious like I remember at Katz (I only go once or twice a year) There was just something missing from both meats; sorry I cannot identify what it is..(maybe flavor from fat, as both meats were very lean)

                          My friends ordered potato knishes (2), which I tasted.. these were pretty good..larger and more messy-looking than the knishes at KnishNosh and others I have tasted..(maybe added schmaltz, or onion broth??) . I liked this one better. Carnegie French fries were also excellent, skin partly on, perhaps hand cut.

                          With 2 beers and 6 Dr. Browns sodas, the bill came to $108.oo with tax and before tip for 4 people.
                          I like Katz much much better. Clientele here looked to be all tourists. But the service was good; the male Asian waiter iin the back room was very efficient accommodating (free extra bread, etc). And I have about a pound of meat in my frig and 6 slices rye bread in my freezer!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: erica

                            At Carnegie, as at Katz's or any other deli, I always ask for extra fatty pastrami - it does make a difference. I also like Carnegie's kasha knish - I'm strictly a kasha guy - better than most in the city (although my favorite is from Hobby's Deli in Newark, NJ).

                            I definitely prefer Katz's pastrami to any anywhere, but Carnegie - although not as good as it was in the 50's and 60's - still makes a good sandwich IMHO. Good pickles, too.