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First visit to Katz's

OK, I've read all the great things about Katz's here for years and I'm ready to make my first trip there. Can you help with some basics?

Do I want the corned beef or pastrami? I like them both, with a slight preference for CB. Is the take-out experience substantially different from the eat-in? I'm going alone, and if there's no difference, I'd like to take the sandwich back to the room to savor it as I relax. How do I get there? What subway or bus line is nearby? Are there any must-try sides that I should order?

Appreciate any help you can offer. There's a youtube video of the counterman slicing pastrami and it makes me drool.

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  1. You're in for a treat, Hinterlander!
    My faves: Reuben sandwich made with PASTRAMI instead of CB
    Potato salad
    Potato pancakes (ya, they're made from the box, but they're really good)
    Macaroni salad
    Table pickles

    2 Replies
    1. re: LeahBaila

      Potato pancakes that are not hand grated don't count! Never had the pancakes at Katz', only eat them at Ukrainian National Home. They still grate them by hand. Katz' is all about the pastrami and salami ("send a salami to your boy in the army"). Chicken liver is good at Katz', good at Russ & Daughters, best at Second Avenue Deli (re-opening soon).

      1. re: financialdistrictresident

        I hear you, but these pancakes are so bad...so bad...they're great. Prior to first bite, I was hesitant...but it's hard to resist the greasy goodness.

    2. Stick with the pastrami, its their best product and you won't be sorry. Its better eating it there as it is nice and steamed but will still be good back at your room, just not quite as good. If you decide to eat there and still have half a sandwich leftover, they have brown/wax paper on all the windowsills above some of the waitress tables, so you can just wrap up the leftovers and take it back with you. If you take it to go, make sure to get extra rye bread on the side otherwise the pieces will fall apart by the time your ready to each.

      For a side, get a hotdog or a knoblewurst from the first station closest to the street. My MO is to get a hotdog and eat it while waiting for your pastrami sandwich. They are both great. Don't waste your valuable stomach space with any of their sides. Save it for the pastrami and pickles. The only other thing you need is a Dr. Brown's black cherry soda to wash it all down.

      Closest subway I think is the "F" on 2nd Ave and Houston. Further west on broadway is the "6" train. There are also buses running up and down Houston and all the avenues.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ESNY

        Second the pastrami, knoblewurst or a hot dog but I still think you should grab some fries or a knish for the side and some sour pickles. And two Dr. Browns just in case!

        1. re: ESNY

          Definitely get and eat your pastrami sandwich there. Katz's is an experience! The line, the counter, the ticket, the atmosphere...The decor alone is worth pondering. The people-watching isn't bad too.

          PS Go to hopstop.com for point to point subway directions to/from anywhere in NYC.

        2. such an easy answer-the pastrami!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          1. Start with the Turkey,

            Nah just kidding. The pastrami, and maybe some fries. The hot dogs are great too.

            5 Replies
            1. re: joelm

              I'm in a similar situation. making the first trip ever to NYC Tuesday, katz's is the first stop, i'm getting a reuben (to start with)

              what should my pseudo-vegetarian wife order (seafood - ok)?

              how's the lox?

              1. re: scpierce

                Haven't had the lox, but there's always: knishes, potato pancakes, noodle kugel, potato salad, macaroni salad, cole slaw...

                1. re: scpierce

                  Get the nova at Russ & Daughters down the street. And white fish salad.

                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                    +1 to the Lox R&D suggestion. It is right near Katz's.

                    1. re: tpigeon

                      Forgot to advise the OP there is no seating at R&D.

              2. Contrary opinion, probably voiced here many times, but I want to register it.

                I found Katz's an extremely unpleasant experience, and so did my friends, and none of us would go back. There was no line - chaotic jostling for place, that feeling you are not going to get food, no civility (sorry, not cute). Tipping the slicing person - at these prices, obnoxious. No deli is cheap these days with the costs of meat and real estate...maybe labor - but that includes Katz's with its complete lack of amenities.

                I say, check if the new 2d Avenue deli is open or look for other suggested delis with the Search function.

                7 Replies
                1. re: yebo

                  the line is not for everyone - That's why KAtz's also has full table service. (just ask which tables )

                  1. re: yebo

                    yebo, Katz' is a NYC institution that doesn't change. That is the charm of it. I don't like Katz' counter and don't eat red meat. I get the pastrami "to go" for others and you don't have to tip at the counter. It is the only place in the city I have EVER bought pastrami. Other delis??? Katz' is THE place for pastrami in NYC. For me, it's off to Russ & Daughters for nova and whitefish. I am also counting the days until my beloved Second Avenue Deli re-opens. I hope they hire some of their old staff back.

                    1. Amen! You don't go to Katzs for white glove service. You go for an "only in NY" experience.

                      By the way....stay away from the knishes!

                      1. re: yebo

                        In my experience, the choatic jostling is typically from the tourists who are freaking out that they might not be standing in the right line. If you see a meat cutter, just stand in front of him. How hard is that? And you don'thave to tip, just like you don't have to tip at a restaurant. I appreciate the job slicing the cutters do and the awesome pastrami I get and I tip them for it. Is a dollar or two that obnoxious?

                        1. re: yebo

                          I think you need to lighten up. Counters are fairly standard when getting deli meat or appetizing, here it's applied to sandwiches.

                          Dont let this person freak you out, you stand infront of a cutter and order. They usually give you a little meat while waiting and I dont find them rude one bit. They have old school New York senses of humour which seem to be dissapearing with the latest influx of "polite" midwesterners. They joke around a bit if you joke back with them. As for tipping, does $1 or $2 really seem that bad? Considering you are not getting waiter service and not tipping there, bug deal.

                          1. re: MVNYC

                            I agree with you. "There's no line" is nonsense. There are always several lines.

                            As far as tipping is concerned, you're also tipping because the meat they offer you is a sample. I have sometimes asked for another slab because the sample was too fibrous or whatever. That's some serious service. Those guys deserve a tip, in my opinion.

                          2. re: yebo

                            That's the point. What makes it special is that it is chaotic.