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I have absolutely nothing new to report about Katz's, but still I cannot help myself but to start a new thread to remind everyone how amazing this place is.

I was supposed to fly to Dallas today, but as people may have heard, AA temporarily grounded its fleet of MD80 aircraft resulting in 800 flight cancelations. So not only was my flight canceled, there was no good way to get to Dallas. (I could have flown via Los Angeles, but that didn't seem all that efficient.) So I got out of going to Dallas, and since I hadn't planned to be in the office anyway, I went back to bed!

I woke back up around 10, watched some ESPN, played on the computer, and at around 1:00 decided it might be time to get in the shower and think about lunch. It's on these days that I think about having lunch at places where I can't normally go for a weekday lunch. (I was fortunate to do one of these weekday lunches just last Friday when a meeting ended early, and I didn't need to go back to the office, so I went to Peter Luger for lunch and had their burger for the first time!) I immediately settled on Katz's. I emailed a buddy telling him to meet me there at 2, and I showered, dressed and headed for the subway.

When we walked in around 2, the tables were mostly full, but the lines at the counter were short. My buddy decided that we should "lay a base" with a couple of hotdogs, so he headed for the hotdog counter while I sized up and got in line for a meat slicer. The original plan was to each have a dog and share a pastrami sandwich, but when the meat slicer offered me a couple of slices to taste after I stuffed a couple of dollars in his cup, I immediately doubled the order: two sandwiches to go with our two dogs.

The dogs were excellent, but we knew that only was an appetizer. We then dove right into the sandwiches. These were things of beauty, works of art. It is hard to put into words how flavorful these sandwiches are. Reading back on some of the threads where people have criticized the place, I just don't get how some people just don't get Katz's. Is it possible to make a better pastrami sandwich? Is it possible to make a better anything sandwich?

By the way, we were halfway through our sandwiches when we saw a huge tray of heaping plates of french fries delivered to the counter, so of course we had to add a plate of those to our lunch too. But so as not to over do it, after eating our hot dogs, our pastrami sandwiches, and our fries, we rested a good five minutes before wandering down the street to Russ & Daughters, just to have a look-see.

Well, we discovered that it's kinda hard just to have a look-see at Russ & Daughters after a lunch at Katz's without at least having a taste of their rugelach. So my buddy and I each bought a box, just to have a taste.

I have now tasted almost the entire top row of my box of rugelach. I am not going to close my eyes, perhaps never to awaken again!

[Edited to add (cause my post wasn't long enough!): I forgot about my good deed for the day. When we approached Russ & Daughters, there was a tourist couple staring in the front door. As I opened the door, I remarked to them that they really had to step inside to experience the place. They responded by asking if they could get a sandwich inside. I told them they could get a lovely bagel-and-lox sandwich, but they really should head over to Katz's for a pastrami sandwich. They clearly had read about Katz's in their tourbook, but I made sure they were schooled in the proper way to "do" Katz's, and suggested that, like my buddy and me, they return to Russ & Daughters afterwards.]

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  1. Wonderful! I've never been to Katz's, and I actually don't think I've ever had a pastrami sandwich. Is it crazy there on the weekends?

    6 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      I hate you, Kenny.

      Seriously, I am so jealous. I love Katz's pastrami. Their french fries are great too! A pastrami reuben and a Dr. Brown's cream soda would be perfect right now!

      Anyway, MMRuth, Katz's can be crazy any day of the week - that's part of the fun, actually. I've been there on Saturdays a couple of times and you will definitely wait in a slicing line, and possibly for a table, but it's worth it. The last time I was there I was with my sister (from Chicago), and we ended up in the slowest slicing line imaginable. So, she decides to try to sneak into the next line over, which I immediately nixed. That slicer caught her eye and made a joke about me not liking his line, etc. Well, when we FINALLY got to the front of our line, the idiot slicer decided to go take a phone call. I was FURIOUS and let out a blue streak of foul language at the top of my (operatically trained) lungs. The slicer from the other line was so taken with my swearing (I don't think he expected it from someone who "looks" as ladylike as I do, LOL!) that he invited us to the front of his line, gave us tastes of everything and made me the biggest Reuben ever. My sister was mortified, but it was totally fabulous! I love Katz's!

      1. re: MMRuth

        MMR You've got to go, whatever the lines are like, no question! Don't wait. (And don't order it lean) You will be very happy you did.

        1. re: MMRuth

          Weekends are definitely an ebb and flow type of crowd. You never know when it will happen but suddenly there will be a flood of people at each slicers line not really able to distinguish between each individual line. About 20 minutes later, there will be no line.

          Even if there is a line, its worth it. The line moves much quicker than say Shake Shack. Worst comes to worst, you do what I do and what Blumie above mentioned and you grab a dog to eat while waiting on the meat slicer's line. Usually there is never more than one or two people waiting for a dog (closest to the window on Houston).

          I always get a pastrami on rye with nothing else, not even mustard. I also ask for just sour pickles since i'm not a picked tomato guy. A pastrami sandwich, hot dog and a large Dr. Brown's black cherry and you will be in heaven. If there are 2 of you, i'd throw in a knoblewurst too.

          1. re: ESNY

            I also get pastrami on rye with no mustard. I do like the tomato pickles, though, and the half-sours. That sandwich is so big that I wouldn't get anything else, except maybe some cole slaw. And of course Dr. Brown's soda, of which my favorite is Cel-Ray.

            1. re: Pan

              we didn't care for the cole slaw at all, but I can't wait to go get another pastrami sandwich!!!!

          2. re: MMRuth

            Wonderful review--share your admiration.

          3. the latka's are another way to lay a base in your belly!!
            so good!

            4 Replies
            1. re: jb44

              Oh, how i LOVE Katz's!! I agree, the potato latka's are so yummy. I'm known to get a pastrami sandwich to eat there, and i'll take home some latka's and pop them in the toaster later on that evening...so good!!

              Does anyone know about Katz's closing for building renovations? Wondering when my last shot is before closing/re-opening...

              1. re: rugburn

                That was an unconfirmed rumor that showed up in the NY Times a few months ago. There's been nothing since. Go. Eat. Enjoy.

                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  definitely the 2 best eating venues of NYC...
                  Katz's = luv the tongue on rye
                  and Russ & Daughters = luv the entire store. Give me a fork and I will gladly eat my way thru the entire display case.
                  My parents used to drag us to both places in the mid '50s.
                  I never appreciated it much...now I do!

                  My idea of gourmet heaven!

              2. re: jb44

                I've ordered latkes at Katz's before and it just wasn't good: less than warm, a little soggy, not something I'm dying to order again.

                The pastrami, however, is an institution! If you haven't tried it, you're only hurting yourself. :-)

              3. "I just don't get how some people just don't get Katz's."

                Neither do I, Blumie, but the fact is, some people just love being contrary for its own sake, and will say the Emperor has no clothes, even if he is wearing resplendent robes encrusted with jewels. Besides, there's no accounting for taste. I could be said not to "get" Peter Luger's, because the greatness of a piece of steak that hasn't been marinated and has no sauce is lost on me. All that remains is a good piece of steak that isn't worth the price for me. What I don't do, however, is talk the place down. I believe others when they say it's a world-beating steak. I just realize that I am not part of its target audience.

                1. Do not apologize for your starting the thread. I've been swearing for years that I just have to get to Katz's and your post confirms that I have to do it. Soon. Your good deed with the tourists is duly noted. If my Sunday plans don't pan out, I may do it. My soda of choice will be cream.

                  I did make it to Russ & Daughters, now operated by the 4th generation of the Russ family, a few months ago, after I saw it featured on a show on public television, The Jews of New York and said I had to stop putting it off. It's just fabulous. It was an instant visceral connection when I walked in. I don't know how to explain it, but I think it goes back to appetizing tending to be served at life-cycle events or break fast. And the sable was divine.

                  1. And never ask for lean meat -- the slicers know what tastes best and it is the meat with the most fat on it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: batterypark

                      Lean? What's lean? Never heard of lean.

                    2. OK - so we're going for an early lunch today. I've read various things about what one can get on the pastrami sandwich but am still a little confused. What are the options and what are your favorites on the sandwich? Is there a "default" if I don't specify anything?


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: MMRuth

                        The default is them asking if you want it on rye with mustard, to which you scream "YES!" It might be hard to answer since you'll be munching on the savory meat they've just sliced and are letting you sample, but I think you'll manage.

                      2. Does Katz have waitstaff or is it cafeteria style? Or do you get a table then go wait in line at the meat slicer? Or is it a combination of both? Or perhaps it depends on whether you are taking food to go. Thanks.

                        29 Replies
                        1. re: Suburban Girl

                          I gather it is a combination of both - tables with services "along the walls" (tables have menus) and tables "reserved" to those who get counter service, in the middle. I'm heading down there now and plan to do the latter based on what I've read.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            Thanks MMRuth! I am going to NYC in May. I've been there before but this is my first time checking out this forum. I have gotten some excellent ideas so far.

                            1. re: Suburban Girl

                              Glad you've found Chowhound. Do start a thread if you have other questions about your upcoming trip. Ok, now I am really going out the door to Katz's!

                              1. re: Suburban Girl

                                mm ruth is correct... and she's also correct in choosing the counter service option. it's really the only way to go -- especially when it comes to getting your pastrami your way (and why else would you go? :) )

                                1. re: david sprague

                                  I have to disagree with the above poster and many others that opine that counter service is the only way to get your sandwich "your way" ...Its simply not true, I used to believe this as well, however I began to bring an elderly client (that can't stand for very long) to Katz's about once a month for a while now and we have found no difference (he has been a Katz regular forever).... just tell your server if you want it fattier/leaner whatever and they will bring it for you; the size is just as good as sandwich that was "tipped" for... the kitschiness of the counter guys is a classic "Only in NY expierence" but after you have seen a million times its unnecessary....

                                  a couple of other things, if you order a rueben, ask for with with sauerkraut from the hotdog station, instead of the cole slaw....and the unheralded (and potentially blasphemos) sandwich is their cheesesteak, is not a traditional CS but it is very good...

                              2. re: MMRuth

                                Please post all the important info that we should know before we go! My husband really wants to try it, but I am a little afraid of the whole thing. Any helpful hints are appreciated! Thanks!

                                1. re: KateMW

                                  i know that the postings here make it sound like you have to know some obscure language in order to get the most out of the katz's experience, but it's really not all that scary, honest!

                                  the basics:

                                  you walk in and you're handed a ticket. hang onto this, since each counter station you go to will mark it with what you've ordered, and you hand it to the cashier when leaving and are charged based on that.

                                  the gist is that there are many different stations on a long, long counter, each of which offers different items. hot dogs are at the very front (they're quite good, by the way, maybe you want one to split?), there's one for beer, one for fries and such and one -- the important one -- towards the middle/back for carved sandwiches. pastrami is the go to option for good reason. order a sandwich and push a buck or two onto the counter...the carver will pass long a good taste of meat for you to nosh on while you wait. ask for your pickles of choice (i like half sours, some like sours....the former are crunchier, the latter more tart), maybe grab some fries .... and enjoy!

                                  1. re: david sprague

                                    Thanks. Sounds fun! Are they always busy? My husband will have between two and two and a half hours for lunch everyday, but I'm not sure how far Katz's is away from where he'll be (Either the Waldorf or the Hilton Midtown). I'll probably be meeting him there as well, so I guess I can always go earlier and get in line?

                                    1. re: KateMW

                                      Getting to Katz's from midtown (and back) will take a while. The subway (F train) plus the walk will take at least 30 mins, maybe longer. A cab may or may not be faster, depending on traffic. Would it be possible for you to do Katz's on a weekend, when you'll have less time constraints?

                                      1. re: biondanonima

                                        Unfortunately, he'll be in meeting through the weekend as well. We'll just chance it one day and he'll either make it back on time or not. After all, how dare they plan a meeting during my vacation!!!

                                        1. re: KateMW

                                          I don't think it's going to be a problem. Even when there are long lines for those waiting to order sandwiches, there are several meat cutters, those guys work fast, so the lines move fairly quickly. It's never taken us more than 45 minutes to an hour from start to finish.

                                          1. re: RGR

                                            Right - we lingered slightly - I felt guilty b/c people were looking for tables, so kept picking at pieces of pastrami, but my husband "wanted a moment or two to relax"! But it's not a place where I'd like to linger. I think they were actually tracking how many people were in the place (for max. occupancy reasons?) as they were v. insistent about each person getting a ticket and returning it upon departure, even if only one was marked with the cost of the meal.

                                      2. re: KateMW

                                        oh, you'll never have THAT long a wait...lines are usually a few people long, and i can't readily translate that into time, but we're not talking about a staggering wait. if you're subway folk, there's an F train stop just a couple blocks from katz's (second avenue station), if not, it's an easy enough cab ride...probably 15 minutes or so either way.

                                        again, hope you enjoy! :)

                                        1. re: KateMW

                                          We were in and out in less than an hour, arriving just before noon today (Sunday). My husband grabbed a table, I ordered our pastrami sandwiches, moved "down" the counter and ordered sodas (including my first cel-ray) and cole slaw (the counterman said it was a 5 minute wait for fries) and then brought it all to the table. On my way, I saw the fries making their way from the kitchen, and so set the tray down in front of my husband, wordlessly, and returned to get some fries. Got back to our table and my husband had kindly set up our place settings for us, poured the sodas and was patiently waiting to dig into his sandwich. (Note: if you are ever anywhere where you see a man eating food with silverware that most of the rest of the world eats with their hands, that's my husband!) The pastrami was moist and tender, the fries were great. The coleslaw was too sweet for me, so we pretty much left it. I liked the sours and the pickled tomatoes better than the half sours.

                                          It was all perfectly straight forward and we had a fun time. Since we'd found a great parking spot across Houston from Katz's, we walked over to Russ & Daughters and picked up some Danish smoked salmon, matjes, curried herring and some nice teas. The dried fruits in the window were absolutley beautiful and I had to resist going back in to get some after we left. Dropped the stuff off in the car, made our way to the Angelika for a movie, where I was dying to have an espresso first, but the cafe was closed, as it appears that they let their license lapse. After the movie we made our way to Dean & Deluca where I had a very mediocre macchiatto (sp?) while picking up some things for dinner.

                                          A special thanks to Blumie for posting about his visit earlier this week, which inspired me to finally go to this New York institution. I have to figure out where I need to go next, now that I finally made it to DiFara's as well. My take on the pastrami sandwich generally, since this was my first one - I'm sure this isn't the last one I'll ever have, and I did enjoy it, but I think it's something that will be lower on my list of foods I occasionally crave and must have!

                                          1. re: MMRuth


                                            I was really surprised that you had never been to Katz's, so since reading that you were finally going, I've been looking forward to your report. Sounds to me as though you and your husband worked the "system" advantageously, and of course, I'm very happy to hear that you enjoyed the pastrami.

                                            My Dr. Brown's of choice is cream soda. I don't like half sours at all. Love either sour or very green pickles, and I absolutely adore pickled tomatoes though getting really good ones can sometimes be difficult.

                                            And, btw, I'd be the last one to criticize your husband's eating habits because, to be honest, the rye bread at Katz's is really not up to the rigors of supporting such a huge amount of meat and often tends to "decompose," so I just eat the pastrami with a knife and fork, dipping it in mustard as I go along.

                                            1. re: RGR

                                              I'll have to try a cream soda next time - the Cel-Ray was, well, sort of fascinatingly oddly enjoyable to drink, but a bit off-putting in smell each time I brought the cup up to my mouth to take a sip!

                                              Oh - and the hotdogs looked wonderful. I just knew I couldn't eat a hotdog and a sandwich and, as it was, I barely ate more than half a sandwich. I might actually just pop in for a hotdog to go next time we're in the area ....

                                              Where do I need to go next, in terms of institutions?

                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                I keep cans of Dr. Brown's cream soda in the house for the times when we bring deli in. And I'll sometimes have one when we barbecue. I've never had Cel-Ray because the idea of drinking something that tastes like celery doesn't appeal to me. I imagine it must be quite tart. Cream soda is sweet without being too sweet.

                                                1. re: RGR

                                                  It's not tart ... worth trying once, and I think it would have been better more chilled, or over ice.

                                                  1. re: RGR

                                                    Cel-Ray is not tart, but sweet.

                                                2. re: RGR

                                                  Oh yes, there is NOTHING like a Dr. Brown's cream soda! And I agree with you about the complete uselessness of the rye bread at Katz's. I too use a fork and dip in the mustard as I go. You get the perfect amount on each bite that way!

                                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                                    I know that there is a difference, but I'm not sure what it is, but Egg Cream vs. Cream Soda?

                                                    I've seen Dr. Brown's here in stores and the only time I've ever had an egg cream was in Sonoma at Cyrus as a pre-dessert course. It was killer though...where can I get a great one in the city?

                                                    1. re: KateMW

                                                      Cream soda is vanilla-flavored carbonated water. An egg cream is made from scratch with three ingredients: chocolate syrup (purists use only Fox's U-bet), whole milk, and seltzer.

                                                      Two places to get a first-rate egg cream:

                                                      The whole-in-the-wall candy store on Av. A, near 7th St. (aka Ray's, but there is no signage to that effect)

                                                      Gem Spa, a candy store/newsstand on the corner of 2nd Av. & St. Mark's Pl.

                                                      1. re: RGR

                                                        Thanks I'll add that to my list. I loved the one I had at Cyrus! It did, after all, have a silver straw to drink it with! Love that place!

                                                        1. re: KateMW

                                                          Just to clarify a few points to make your visit to Katz's as enjoyable as possible.

                                                          -- As indicated, when you walk in the door, you will be handed a ticket. Each time you order something from the counter (and you really must order from the counter, not from table service), your ticket will be marked. You pay at the register on your way out the door.

                                                          -- After you take a ticket, the counter will be to your right and stretches the length of the restaurant. The hotdogs are on the far right, closest to the window. Next are the meat slicers (not in the back half as indicated in a prior post).

                                                          -- As indicated, pick a meat slicer based on whatever criteria you determine and get in his line. When you get to the front of the line, stick a dollar or two in his cup (more for more than one sandwich) and order a pastrami on rye with mustard. As far as I'm concerned, that's the only thing to order. Savor the slices of pastrami that he'll give you to taste as he makes your sandwich.

                                                          -- Once you have your sandwich, slide down the counter to the area just beyond the meat slicers where you can order fries (if you so choose; they're really good, but optional as far as I'm concerned) and cans of Dr. Brown's soda (mandatory). My personal favorite is the diet black cherry.

                                                          -- Find one of the tables in the middle and enjoy. This may be highly unorthodox and may attract some adverse reaction on this board, but don't be shy about deconstructing your sandwich. The pastrami is so good that you should not shy from eating it without the bread, not because you're dieting (dieting is not allowed at Katz's), but only because you don't want the bread detracting from the flavor of the meat. My approach is to intentionally allow about half of the meat to fall out of the sandwich as I eat it so I can both enjoy the sandwich AND have a pile of meat to eat without the bread afterwards.

                                                          1. re: Blumie

                                                            So, Blumie, "dieting is not allowed at Katz's," but you favorite soda is a Dr. Brown's *diet* balck cherry? lol In any case, you've provided some excellent pointers.

                                                            1. re: Blumie

                                                              One additional tip that I learned from the boards is that you can pay by credit card at the take out counter (at the end of the counter) and then you just present your ticket on the way out (ours had a staple put into it by the person who rang up our card).

                                                              1. re: Blumie

                                                                I order my pastrami sandwich with a little mustard, then I add cole slaw, and Russian dressing. This makes it reminiscent of the "Sloppy Joe" sandwich which are very prominent at funerals and when one is sitting Shiva in NJ. Try it next time. Pastrami sandwiches are really good that way.

                                                      2. re: RGR

                                                        hahahahaha.......I was surprised that MMRuth hadn't been to Katz's, too. (sorry MM, you got a hell of a rep on here!

                                                        Btw, aren't the best stories in threads about Katz's?

                                                        1. re: RGR

                                                          Knife?? Are you sure you were eating KATZ's pastrami? Because the delicate, buttery morsels of meat heaven at Katz's need not a knife to be cut..

                                            2. I love this NY land mark. As a new transplant to the city , I was introduced to pastrami at Katz's in the 70's and still to this day use it as a example of what Pastrami should be.A platter of fatty , shiny, pink meat , with side of kosher pickles and raw onions. The only thing that comes close is the "Smoked meat" at Schwartz's in Montreal. Pack a cooler, you will want to bring this home.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: currymouth

                                                Raw onions? Good with burgers, but never with pastrami! lol

                                                1. re: RGR

                                                  Forgive me . but I must disagree. Try it and you will see it gives a new slant to the fattyness of the Pastrami. Agreed , Not for every one.

                                                  1. re: RGR

                                                    I agree that pastrami and onions is a great combo. At Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor, MI -- perhaps the best Jewish-style deli outside of NYC -- the J.J.'s Pastrami Special comes with onions and swiss grilled on rye. It's no substitute for a Katz's pastrami sandwich, but it's delicious in its own right!

                                                    1. re: Blumie

                                                      I don't keep kosher, but I think putting cheese on pastrami is just wrong. And hold the onions.

                                                      To each his/her own.

                                                      1. re: Pan

                                                        I agree with you when you're talking Katz's pastrami. Not so much with others'.

                                                2. Someone might have mentioned it but I order the three meats platter when I go with wife and child... I think you can double up on pastrami if you wish, just tip the slicer. Anyway, this way everyone makes their own sandwich(es) and let the chips fall where they may.

                                                  1. Thanks, I started my diet today! You are killing me

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Mitch Rosen

                                                      Just do what I do: order the Dr. Brown's diet black cherry with your sandwich!

                                                      1. re: Blumie

                                                        I don't know...I'm thinkin' diet cream.

                                                      2. re: Mitch Rosen

                                                        Actually, Mitch, it was the pastrami that was killing you; we, your friends, are saving your life!

                                                      3. I promise I'm not being contrary. Don't flame me. The pastrami is undoubtedly the best on this or any planet. When I eat it there I feel like I'm having sex with my ancestors. But how come Katz's never seems to have tongue when I ask for it?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. I tell ya...my wife and I were at Katz's recently, and maybe I'm getting old, but the thickly sliced pastrami is seeming a little TOO thick for my tastes now. I was always the hugest shill for Katz's, but now I don't know. I need to make a stop at 2nd Ave. Deli, try their pastrami and I'll repost. Hey, these postings are all `IMHO' anyway, so...y'know? Anyway, I'll post. If you really like thick-sliced pastrami, Katz's is unquestionably the best. The flavorings are unmatched, I think. Now, if I can just get that sliced a bit thinner.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: RickTheClamBellyFan

                                                            I don't know about 2nd Av. Deli's slice since I haven't been, but if you want thinner, yet juicy, try the pastrami at Sarge's.

                                                            1. re: RickTheClamBellyFan

                                                              I'll be interested in your report after trying 2nd Ave Deli. On my recent trip to NY, I tried the pastrami at both Katz's and 2nd Ave. I liked both. Katz's is thick and moist while 2nd Ave is thin and flavorful. I like Katz's just a little more--maybe it IS the age thing. :)

                                                            2. Hey all,

                                                              I know, this is like pure blasphemy, but what's good to get at Katz's that's *not* beef? (Beef, and thus pastrami, is out for one of our party.) Someone upthread mentioned latkes. What else? Other good non-beefy sandwiches?


                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. Is it worth it to go to katz's if I dont eat pastrami? Is there anything else that is worthwhile?

                                                                17 Replies
                                                                1. re: Calipoutine

                                                                  If you don't like pastrami, then I'd suggest the knoblewurst.

                                                                  1. re: RGR

                                                                    I dont eat red meat. I guess I should have made that clear. I do eat poultry and I love the deli experience( I'm Jewish).

                                                                    I plan on taking your LES tour which is the reason I'm asking.

                                                                    1. re: Calipoutine

                                                                      The simple answer is "No". But, if you are going with others who are meat eaters (and deli meat lovers) and you want to experience the atmosphere, then by all means go, but you won't find much to eat other than pickles, knishes, french fries and (IMO) not very good potato latkes.

                                                                      1. re: bobjbkln

                                                                        My spouse doesnt eat red meat either, but we do eat Turkey. I love matza ball soup too. Is that any good?

                                                                        1. re: Calipoutine

                                                                          I recall a post from someone who tried the turkey and bemoaned its being very dry. I haven't heard much about the matzoh ball soup. Perhaps a Hound who has tried it will weigh in with an opinion.

                                                                      2. re: Calipoutine


                                                                        I'm pleased you are planning to take my tour!

                                                                        There are chicken, tuna and egg salad sandwiches, but it probably won't surprise you that I've never tried any of them because, for me, it's all about the pastrami. However, I think the atmospherics are a major part of the experience. Katz's has been around since 1888, and there is a feeling of history there. It is a LES/NYC institution, so you should go even if you don't eat meat.

                                                                        1. re: RGR


                                                                          We;re back. The tour was great, except for it was pouring rain(Tuesday)!! Not fun, but there were no crowds everywhere we went. As we were walking, we happened across the Streits factory. We went over there where we were treated to warm matza and lots of information from the nice Jewish Russian lady who was manning the counter. I think thats a great addition to your tour, especially for Jewish CH'rs like myself.

                                                                          Here are some pics I took. My spouse did not like the egg cream, but she loved the 1.00 fries from the Belgian fry place. I was soooo full, even with splitting the sandwich( turkey) from Katz's.

                                                                          1. re: Calipoutine

                                                                            Thanks for reporting back and including the photos, Calipoutine. Too bad about the weather, but at least it kept the crowds away from Katz's and Russ.

                                                                            It's hard for me to believe that anyone could not like an egg cream. Maybe it's an acquired taste.

                                                                            I've been considering making some changes to the tour, and Streit would, indeed, be a good addition.

                                                                            1. re: RGR

                                                                              I have some more pics..... Someone else suggested Essex St pickles since they said it was more LES than Gus's which really exists in name only.

                                                                              1. re: Calipoutine

                                                                                The Pickle Guys' current location on Essex St. was where Guss' World Famous Pickles (that's what's on their business card) stood for many years. Guss' relocated to Orchard St. and remains, in my view, a LES icon.

                                                                        2. re: Calipoutine

                                                                          My kids really like the turkey. The Dr Brown, fries and pickle complete it...

                                                                            1. re: Pan

                                                                              One more Q on Katz's guys.........................................I read that most of you seem to recommend going up to the counter, but if you chicken out (no joke intended) and head for table service instead, do you still take a ticket on the way in?

                                                                              1. re: humblepie

                                                                                yes. the ticket is given as you enter.

                                                                                no need to chicken out.. people make it sound far more complex and intimidating than it is. i'm sure you know how to stand on line and order a sandwich.

                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                  Thanks thew, sounds like the counter is the place to head for! I'm not in town for a few weeks yet, but Katz's is definitely going on the list.......

                                                                          1. re: RGR

                                                                            I second RGR's learned reply. The Knoblewurst, seldom mentioned and always welcome, is a paen to garlic. The appropriate wine with Knoblewurst is Brioschi.

                                                                        3. You know, Blumie, I can't disagree with you, but I have to say (because I always seem to have to say) that I just don't like the thick slicing. Their flavor is unparalleled, their fries are great...no, they're fantastic. The dogs are, to me, the best in the city, even though I know they use the same dogs as many other places. It doesn't matter. Maybe it's the griddle guy, but whatever it is, I like their dogs best. The pastrami is unmatched, but again, if only they'd get a slicing machine and set it on a thinner setting than the human slicers seem to be able to effect. But, again, if all I have to complain about there is their silly ticket system and the thickness of the slicing, since I was there again just recently, I guess I'll have to admit that Katz's is pretty darned good, huh?

                                                                          13 Replies
                                                                          1. re: RickTheClamBellyFan

                                                                            The thing about Katz's that makes them special is that its hand carved. Most delis used to do it that way. They are the only ones left. The blarney stone bar used to do it hand cut. There';s far more flavor when cut by hand. When it comes to pastrami and corned beef thick is better. When it comes to Boar's Head cold cuts extra thin is better. Katz's fries are not to good. If you get them right out of the fryer they are better but no comparison to Nathan's.

                                                                            1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                              There's a physical reason for it to taste better when hand carved. The slower speed and relative irregularity of the cut exposes more meat-ness on something of a molecular level. The hand carving is what sets the taste apart there as much as the pastrami itself.

                                                                              1. re: addictedtolunch

                                                                                "There's a physical reason for it to taste better when hand carved. The slower speed and relative irregularity of the cut exposes more meat-ness on something of a molecular level. The hand carving is what sets the taste apart there as much as the pastrami itself."

                                                                                The reason the pastrami tastes better at Katz's is because it IS better. Hand slicing has nothing to do with it. I do agree with another poster that trying to machine slice it ultra thin wouldn't work because of it's tenderness but you could set the machine to slice it thicker. The reason they don't is tradition, not some type of Molecular Meatness voodoo.

                                                                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                  Respectfully disagree- as do others here, as well as articles written on the subject by more devoted/educated foodies than myself.

                                                                                  1. re: addictedtolunch

                                                                                    Please provide me with links. I'm assuming that the articles quote actual scientists. If they do, I'll happily reverse my position.

                                                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez


                                                                                      That's just one. I've seen others, but won't burden the post with them.

                                                                                      1. re: addictedtolunch

                                                                                        I think you posted the wrong link. Your link goes to New York Magazine's readers' reviews of Katz's.

                                                                                        1. re: Pan

                                                                                          Oops- anyway, there was a NY Mag article somewhere, and a few others on the subject.

                                                                                          1. re: addictedtolunch

                                                                                            Again, I look forward to reading any articles you can find. As I mentioned before, I'd like to read something scientific, not a bunch of people in room all saying "I like hand sliced pastrami."

                                                                                            I want to see a scientific explanation of why a really sharp steel knife wielded by hand that produces a very smooth cut that is superior to a rotating steel blade that also produces a very smooth cut.

                                                                                            Don't get me wrong. The carvers do a great job and I'm not advocating that they all be replaced by slicing machines. I enjoy the ritual of standing on line and tipping the carver. But I also think that the key to the supeiority of Katz's pastrami is in the way it's chosen (extra fatty), cooked and seasoned.

                                                                                            If hand slicing were the key, then all places like Carnegie and Second Ave. would have to do would be to buy some knives. Presto! They too could have the best pastrami in New York.

                                                                                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                              For me just like BBQ. When hand sliced there are thick and thinner, there are clunky ends with great chew. It is about the variance in texture. Why l do not know or care but all the difference. Seems on slicers a lot of places, not all, slice thinner than hand slices, l like thicker slices. For whatever reason, It's a dealbreaker.

                                                                            2. re: RickTheClamBellyFan

                                                                              it's too tender to machine slice. a machine would just shred the life out of it

                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                what thew says makes sense, The pastrami and corned beef are a bit too "soft"" for lack of a better word, to be sliced in machine. If machines would have to cook less for a harder consistency. Probably drier as well. In any case I like the taste of the hand carved better, which puts Katz's in a class of its own

                                                                              2. re: RickTheClamBellyFan

                                                                                If they start machine slicing, l will never return.

                                                                              3. I've been going to Katz's since about 1956. My parents would go to the LES to shop on Sunday. Back then everything else was closed on Sunday. LES stores closed on Saturday, the Jewish sabbath. Katz's was and still is glorious!! Some will argue that it has the best Pastrami sammich but it is not just the food it's the total eating experience that you won't find anywhere else in NYC.
                                                                                My wife and I get one pastrami on rye and one corned beef on rye and we mix and match. I like mine with a litte cole slaw, russian dressing and "heavy" on the mustard. If we are really hungry a dog with kraut, knish and french fries too! She likes the Dr Brown cream and I get the root beer. It's a heavenly eating experience.
                                                                                FYI: They are open till the wee hours on Friday and Saturday nights to serve the club crowd wandering and looking to recharge their batteries.