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Katz gets stingy


Eat a pastrami on rye and coundn't believe how small the pastrami portion was. It now cost $ 14.50.
The sandwich was a third the size even after the customary tip.

  1. I agree. I don't need it to be a pound and half of meat, but I'm not full after eating their sandwiches. That's a crime for a deli.

    26 Replies
    1. re: OC Mutt


      i got the usual three meals out of my sandwich back about 2-3 weeks ago....

      1. re: david sprague

        Yes, nothing has changed, sorry if someone was unlucky.

          1. re: Wilfrid

            A number of someones, who are becoming increasingly hard to write off as their numbers grow and Katz's bread shrinks.

            1. re: sugartoof

              Where can you get a better pastrami sandwich in New York?

              1. re: Bob Martinez

                Easy question (and even easier answer): Sarge's.

                1. re: ellenost

                  Simply not true, in my experience. My wife and I made a point of stopping at Sarge's for pastrami and corned beef, based on recs from CH. We were both disappointed. Maybe we caught them on an off-day or maybe it's just a matter of taste, but we thought that the meat was in no way as good as Katz's - or Carnegie's, for that matter.

                  1. re: Striver

                    I think you may have caught them on a very rare off-day. I've regularly had the pastrami for the past 17 years, and have never had less than a great pastrami sandwich.

                  2. re: ellenost

                    does sarge's handslice the meat?

                  3. re: Bob Martinez

                    Better is subjective.... how do you make a meal out of a stingy Katz's sandwich?

                    1. re: sugartoof

                      Sugartoof, I will bet you the price of a Katz's sandwich that there is 1/2 lb or more of pastrami in the sandwich. Put up or shut up.

                      1. re: KTinNYC

                        Oh now it's only a 1/2lb huh?
                        Funny how the portion size shrunk even during the course of this thread.
                        Frankly, the weight of the meat isn't always indicative of portion size, just how much water, and who knows what they're injecting into it.
                        Anyway, if you're planning on bringing a meat scale and some gold coins, maybe another Chowhounders wants to take you up on it for a laugh.

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          Half a pound of meat is stingy? How much meat would be considered not stingy in your mind?

                          I knew you'd never take the bet. You refuse to name a place with better pastrami instead you contend that the sandwich is "stingy". When I ask you to bet that the sandwiches are filled with plenty of meat all of the sudden you accuse Katz's of injecting water into the meat. What's next that it's not actually beef?

                          1. re: KTinNYC

                            Its not beef, its PEOPLE!

                            1. re: KTinNYC

                              OMG, I think we need to make a Chowdown out of this. We pick a day, and agree to meet at Katz's, say around 11:30 am before the rush. I'll bring the scale. Each of us gets in a different line and orders the pastrami sandwich. We then take our respective sandwichs to the self-serve/eat in tables and weigh each one. From this, we can determine the average portion size of a Katz pastrami sandwich. Once the question has been settled once and for all, we have a lovely lunch of pastrami on rye together with fellow food enthusiasts. Any takers??? If we get 5 or 6 of us, it should make for a nice sample size.

                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                Here's a picture of a Katz's sandwich from this past January -

                                Here's another one from this past June -

                                Anyone who thinks that the sandwiches are shrinking ought to run a Google image search. The pictures were taken over a range of time but one thing is remarkably consistent - they're all big.

                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                  What is this, the Little Rascals? I have no idea what you're even talking about a bet. You should reread through this post, and the varied opinions, and stop with the insecure challenges on a sandwich. The whole idea of a bet is ridiculous. If you can't respect the other reports on here contrary to your own experiences, then perhaps you shouldn't be on this forum. We're not talking about your mother, or your religion. It's a sandwich. Unless you owned the company, you're out of line in taking this so personal. Not just you, but a hand full of posters.

                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                    No, they do not all look big once you get to the 2nd page, and either way, anything would look big in ratio to the near miniature bread.

                    2. re: OC Mutt

                      I would like to know how many ounces are on one of the sandwiches.
                      It should be 18 oz for that price.
                      Now, we have an issue, mirabella saying it was super small(1/3 the size it used to be, if that is what you meant, I am sure it did not lose 2/3 the size and thus credibility would be undermined, if another meaning, my apologies) and sprague saying it was 3 meals.
                      Honestly, Sprague, 3 meals at any point from that is way too many. A bit like Jerry ordering salad at the steakhouse(on tv right now).
                      I do not go very often but if I happen to, I hope to remember to weigh one.
                      Better yet, someone else does so sooner.

                      1. re: dietndesire

                        Can you tell me how you came up with the 18 oz figure? The weight of a Katz's sandwich has always been estimated to be about 3/4 of a pound at least that's the number I've heard thrown around for at least the last decade.

                      2. re: OC Mutt


                        I don't know how anyone could stretch their sandwiches into 2 meals.
                        They simply do not fill me up.

                        The bread is getting smaller and they are folding the piled meet in the center to give the illusion it's stuffed when they cut it. You're left with that crappy fake rye along the edges where there's barely any meat.

                        I caused a fuss with my criticisms last month, and I stand by it. You shouldn't have to play up your NY accent, or put on a dog and pony show to get a meal sized sandwich at that price.

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          NYers don't have to play up their accents... the accent is just, well, there. You know, from birth.

                          I don't have any vested interest in Katz's except for the great meals I've had there--and there have been many since I was a kid.

                          I just read the fuss from last month. If you are in the camp of not liking Katz's that is fine... there are many other places to eat in this city some good, some bad, some that will be hotly debated.

                          That is the great thing about CH... room for a lively debate.

                          1. re: iluvcookies

                            Well you've mentioned your NY accent as part of your ordering routine. In another comment you're implying you have to be a New Yorker to appreciate the place.
                            Oddly, it caters mostly to tourists and a core following mostly from the outer boroughs (I don't know many Manhattanites tossing $15 at a deli sandwich, more than once)....I love that it's there for my own selfish nostalgia reasons and do hope there are true New Yorkers who will continue to support the place with undying loyalty. I mean that without sarcasm. We're talking about food, but what you're getting out of that meal sounds like much more than just a sandwich for you, and that's cool.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              If I ever thought the food at Katz's wasn't up to par, I'd be among the first to post it. NY is where Katz's is and has flourished for over 100 years.
                              Yes, the place is more than just a sandwich. And that absolutely is cool--in fact, that 's the point. Meals are often about more than the food.

                              1. re: sugartoof

                                i was born in brooklyn, but moved to manhattan when 4. i live in manhattan now. i have been to katz's more than once. i will continue to go to katz's.

                                1. re: thew

                                  My DH and I will raise a pickle to you, fellow CHer thew!

                        2. My guess is they are reducing the circumference of the bread slightly to preserve the illusion- the sandwich still looks stuffed, but at the end of the meal you ate less.

                          1. Are you tipping the guy behind the counter? I give him a couple bucks right as I order and I've never had a problem with portion size... and free tastes before the sandwhich is done. Not sure if this was common practice, or just something I was brought up doing, but it guarantees success.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                              The tipping thing is a myth. Tip no tip the sandwich is always the same and you still get a sample. If you don't believe me try it for yourself. The cutters are on automatic pilot they do the same thing a hundred times a day. There can be a difference if you ask for fatty.

                              1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                                I agree with spends rent on food. Those guys will treat you the same. I mean, maybe if you stuck a 20 in the cup they wouldn't, but normally whether you tip reasonably or totally stiff the guy he's going to give you a sample at random (not each and every single orderer gets a sample) and the sandwich will be about the same, unless you ask for fatty. He'll stab you if you ask for lean LOL.

                                But I do happen to agree with jf mirabella, who said that the sandwich has gotten smaller. IT ABSOLUTELY HAS. Not a third the size as you say, but we all love hyperbole so we knew what you meant. It is definitely smaller than it once was. Big mistake?

                                Look, they never had to be as huge as Carnegie to beat them because they were a superior product, and they're all the way downtown, making them a tad more iconic because you have to go out of your way to get there (assuming that Carnegie caters more to tourists who have heard for eons about Carnegie Deli, but never really know quality). But Katz's product had heft nonetheless--just under 3/4 lb I believe. So, Katz's did it because they could. But they shouldn't have. Problem for us locals and suburbanites is that we're going to keep eating there, and we're going to get the new and definitely un-improved Katz's pastrami sandwich. Same cutters, same waitstaff, same stupid ass ticket, same quality....less meat.

                                Is it a tragedy? The loss of some things in NY is felt like miniscule versions of 9-11 because we so overly romanticize Manhattan, and why shouldn't we? Every great film director has done it and done it in precisely the way we do it--in a sensory way, but also visually. The reduction in size of Katz's world famous commodity is not only felt by our bellies (probably an overall good thing), but by our eyes. There was something about being eye-level with that sandwich's profile once it was slapped onto a plate in front of you that hit you right there. That doesn't happen anymore. It's just a deli sandwich to your eye now. Your taste buds still jump into action like Airborne Rangers, but there is a slight disappointment visually when you take the plate and begin to look for a seat. When you take another thing off the landscape it stings because each little change dissolves some of the color, texture and fabric of the past. Kat's....be smart. Don't mess around with institutions. Like it or not you ARE one. You may do it slowly so we don't notice that you're returning to status quo, but please...give us back that quarter pound, dudes!

                                1. re: RickTheClamBellyFan

                                  I certainly don't think the sample is random--unless I am incredibly lucky. I've been going since I was a little girl (for 20 years) and my daddy always taught me to give a dollar and I always got a big sample. I don't think anyone who tips will not get a sample. Maybe some servers will be nice and give a sample even without the tip. But if you didn't tip, and didn't get a sample, that's the reason.

                              2. A buck in the cup, a slight smile, and an order in my unmistakeable NY (Queens) accent gets me a heaping sandwich and a sample every time. It helps if you order straight out w/ hesitating.
                                ---Pastrami on rye, no mustard and half sour pickles please---
                                I learned that from my Grandpa, who is no stranger to good deli, even at 87 yrs old :)

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: iluvcookies

                                  Nah, I agree with KTinNYC above: none of that stuff is really necessary. I'm new to the city and I tried out Katz on my third day here. I did enough research to know it was a NY institution, but not enough to know all the lore. I don't have a NY accent, I hemmed and hawed for a minute deciding what to order, and I didn't put a tip in the cup. I still got professional service, including a sample, and a delicious sandwich that was generously filled. Everything about the experience was terrific, and I can't wait to take friends when they come visit. (Though I'll probably fill them in on the mythology so they can have some fun playing along and doing it "right" !!)

                                  1. re: therenowtoo

                                    My sandwich was piled in the center with a small layer on the sides. Total height did not exceed two and a half inches . Quality as usual was fantastic. I long for the days when the old Jewish men would cut meat and tell you a story. They appreciated the tip and it meant something.

                                    1. re: jfmirabella

                                      i do miss those old guys. really a cultural loss....and it makes me a little sad to think about the old days (in part 'cause i realize it means i am old enough to have 'old days')

                                    2. re: therenowtoo

                                      Never said any of how I order is necessary, just that was what works for me (but if you ask my Grandpa you'll get another answer entirely--according to him that is how it's done. Am I gonna argue with a man nearly as old as Katz's itself??).
                                      New or old, you will get professional service. The counter staff has always been good. Someone will disagree with me on this but that's fine... the staff has always been good to me.

                                      Were the sandwiches bigger 50 years ago? Undoubtedly. So were cars. But after paying the same $$ at Ben's for sub-par pastrami how can one complain about Katz's?

                                      And I always tip--it just seems right to me--and I never felt is was not appreciated. But that is a topic for another board.

                                      1. re: iluvcookies

                                        Yep! Tipping is the right thing to do. I honestly didn't notice the cup (I was watching the guy slice), and where I'm from I never frequented delis like this where someone painstakingly makes the sandwich to order right in front of you. It didn't occur to me until later that I should have tipped him. Next time, I will. :-) And I love cookies too.

                                        1. re: therenowtoo

                                          They handcut the meat. There's some skill, just like there's skill prepping any cured or bbq meat....but it's not like they are assembling anything. There's no other ingredients, no garnish. It's as bare bones minimal as a sandwich can get. Sandwich making is an art. Defonte's comes to mind as a sandwich that takes some labor, and skill. I don't mind the tipping ritual but I've never seen these men do anything too painstaking. Even when they decide some meat isn't quality enough, they just toss it back so they'll serve it to someone eventually.

                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                            I usually tip at Defonte's as well, but I don't really see how they do anything particularly artfull either... Never been to the one in the city though, so I don't know if they do anything special.

                                            1. re: StheJ

                                              Probably no different than the original location.. but constructing a sandwich that doesn't fall apart takes some care. Good distribution of all the ingredients is something I appreciate on a sandwich like their roast beef with the breaded eggplant, where all the major elements are made in-house with ample prep time.

                                          2. re: therenowtoo

                                            Hi therenowtoo
                                            No problem... Katz's is a lovely, unique place that has a certain appeal.
                                            May you have many terrific sandwiches there.

                                            And if you ever find that you don't like something there, I won't take it personally :)

                                    3. Just went for lunch and got the same sandwich I always have... including the half that sits now invitingly in my fridge. Maybe it's the accent or the tip before ordering or the fact that I always get it on a roll instead of the Rye which I don't particularly care for, but I'm not really sure what folks are complaining about.

                                      37 Replies
                                      1. re: StheJ

                                        Count yourself lucky. Trust us, there's less to the standard pastrami on rye than in the past.

                                        1. re: addictedtolunch

                                          As per my previous post, I disagree with your assessment on this point. As to trust, I'd be happy to administer my standard battery of tests to determine your credibility if you'd like. If you pass, then we can revist the trust issue.

                                          1. re: addictedtolunch

                                            why should i trust you when i can trust my own experience -- of eating at katz since 1983 with no change?

                                            1. re: david sprague

                                              I agree with david sprague.

                                              Those of us who enjoy Katz's will likely continue to do so. Those who don't, will not. There are plenty of us who love the place so it should be around for quite a while.

                                              And I'm starting to think there's something to the accent business here... maybe NYers are just more inclined to like Katz's??

                                              1. re: iluvcookies

                                                I am a New Yorker, loved the place all my life. Heck, they catered my bris, and if they got me through that...
                                                All that being said, while I may walk over sometimes myself when the craving hits, I can no longer take someone there who has never been. I can't have them pony up $15 for a normal sized pastrami sandwich.

                                                1. re: addictedtolunch

                                                  Maybe you should mention the bris to the cutter next time (no pun intended--really). That should get you a few more slices on your sandwich!

                                                  OK---time for a new thread maybe...how to get more on your sandwich at Katz's????

                                                    1. re: addictedtolunch

                                                      lke the old joke - the pays no good but the tips are big

                                          2. re: StheJ

                                            My DH gets his on a roll since he finds there more meat on it that way. Maybe so... either way it is delicious. I wouldnt trade an ounce of Katz's patrami for a pound of Ben's or Carnegie.

                                            ...patiently waiting for the angry replies of fellow CHers on this....

                                            1. re: iluvcookies

                                              Oh these don't seem like angry replies...I got ganged up on for being critical of Katzs a couple weeks ago, so it all comes around.

                                              I have a question though... what kind of roll do they use? Is it like one of those things the corner deli would use on an egg and cheese? I could see the roll providing a better sandwich. Do they charge extra?

                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                never had thr roll....i cannot argue with anyone who says the rye is substandard (but it was kinda below average in the 80s as well)

                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                  It's more of a club roll than a round roll. About 10 inches long and 3/4 inches high. No seeds or anything, pretty straight ahead with great flavor and a nice crust. I think it's the same price, but even after all these years I still can't really understand the ticket business, so I just pay what they tell me.

                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                    I got the club roll once -- thinking I'd be getting a ton more pastrami in my sandwich. Actually the amount of meat is the same, but the counter-dude charged me 50 cents more for the roll though. This happened maybe 10 years ago.
                                                    I stick with the rye from now on and not buck the trend.

                                                    1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                      Thanks(StheJ and Cheese Boy) that was very informative....and saved me some money.

                                                      The Rye is important on such a minimal sandwich.
                                                      Sad they don't bother to get it right. What are they saving, 30 cents?

                                                    2. re: sugartoof

                                                      "Oh these don't seem like angry replies...I got ganged up on for being critical of Katzs a couple weeks ago, so it all comes around."

                                                      You got tweaked because you claimed to have had better pastrami than Katz's. When a number of people asked you where, you wouldn't answer.

                                                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                        Be honest. I called it "chintzy" and people flipped like I had bashed their religion.

                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                          i can see not liking katz overall (although i am a devout fan) but i cannot fathom seeing it as chintzy, stingy, or any synonym conveying the same thing.

                                                          i still get the same 10 or so ounces per sandwich i got in the 80s and 90s. and, for some reason, that fills me up. twice over. when i was fatter, it filled me up once. but that's evolution for you.

                                                          curious to see what sandwich place is not stingy/chintzy in your mind. yeah, carnegie offers more meat (for more money) but it's three grades below.

                                                          1. re: david sprague

                                                            Carnegie is a silly amount of meat. I'm just talking about a sandwich you can make a meal of. Defonte's, Lamazou, Garden of Eden, even 2nd Ave. Deli.

                                                            I've never seen one at Katz's that you could make multiple meals from.
                                                            There's barely enough meat to fill the bread edge to edge, let alone make a second sandwich.

                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                              i freakin'; LOVE defonte's and guarantee you that katz puts more meat on a sandwich. second ave? i usually have soup and a dog. garden of eden. meh...may as well be eating at c-town.

                                                              1. re: david sprague

                                                                David, When you say you tip at Katz's, do you really mean you buy the meat by the pound instead? I'm not going to argue with someone who makes 3 meals out of a Katz's sandwich. That's just...amazing.

                                                                Does C-Town make sandwiches with Columbus meats, house made hams, turkey, or roast beef, 30 different types of salami and hams, and other hard to find imports? Of course not. Garden of Eden does.

                                                              2. re: sugartoof

                                                                If one is going to compare this to an ITALIAN deli known for its "disgustingly huge" (saw this on yelp dot com) heroes or a gourmet market, well.... it really is not the same.
                                                                2nd Ave Deli (when it was on 2nd Ave) gave Katz's a run for it's money for sure. Carnegie is good in it's own way.

                                                                Chintzy???? Sheesh.....

                                                                1. re: iluvcookies

                                                                  Who compared? The question was, what sandwich isn't chintzy in my mind. I named a few places. I don't need Carnegie poundage, I need the bread to be filled. Katz's doesn't provide that.

                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                    From your post:
                                                                    I'm just talking about a sandwich you can make a meal of. Defonte's, Lamazou, Garden of Eden, even 2nd Ave. Deli.
                                                                    I've never seen one at Katz's that you could make multiple meals from.
                                                                    Defonte's comes to mind as a sandwich that takes some labor, and skill.

                                                                    You mentioned Defontes before this question was asked of you... and apparantly you do need "Carnegie poundage" or you wouldn't have mentioned Defontes.
                                                                    I'm sorry the cutter's at Katz's don't fill your sandwich. They fill mine---both literally and figuratively.

                                                                    You clearly don't like the place but don't try to make those of us who do sound like slaves to some insane, outdated memory. Why not post a review of the place you do like... might bring them some business and give your fellow CHers some new insight

                                                                    Thew and david sprague... good to know we share a common food.
                                                                    This is all I'm going to say... though I'm sure sugartoof isn't done yet. Come on, prove me wrong :)

                                                                    1. re: iluvcookies

                                                                      You're implying I'm comparing an italian deli to a Jewish deli, which misses the point. I'm comparing a deli that carelessly slaps meat between processed junk food bread to a deli that puts condiments, stacks cheese, multiple other ingredients, etc. AND gives you enough meat to cover their own bread.

                                                                      It's lovely Katz's serves you a proper portion but that doesn't help me, or the OP, or the typical visitor. Your mileage may vary, buy at your own risk.

                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                        Look at the pictures on this yelp link http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/V7lXZK...
                                                                        The average sandwich is plenty big so it sounds like it is your experience not the typical visitor.

                                                                        1. re: dagrassroots

                                                                          The "it's just you" line of defense doesn't fly. I didn't make this thread.

                                                                          In your picture, please note the size ratio to the persons pinky, and ticket.
                                                                          You can also see the lack of actual rye.

                                                            2. re: sugartoof

                                                              only because chintzy seemed, and still seems like the wrong adjective. overpriced, maybe. unappealing - perhaps to you, who am i to say? not the best pastrami, i don;t agree, but i don't share your mouth. but chintzy? just seems like that is not a word i think applies.

                                                        2. re: iluvcookies

                                                          "...patiently waiting for the angry replies of fellow CHers on this...."

                                                          I'm just angry that in throwing alternatives to Katz around, no one has mentioned Sarge's. In my view they are by far the closest to Katz's you can get. And you can still easily make two meals from one sandwich.

                                                          How does dafonte's make it onto this board? I can slap a pound of meet between two pieces of bread, but that doesn't make me the best sandwich maker in the city.

                                                          1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                                                            I thought that this thread was about whether or not Katz's sandwiches had gotten smaller and not the quality of the sandwiches...

                                                            Frankly, I have my issues with Katz's: the rye is not that great, the cole slaw is so so and the russian dressing is horrendous in my opinion. So for a guy who likes corned beef on rye with cole slaw and russian dressing, Katz's is not the best place to go.

                                                            Honestly, I love Sarge's. The corned beef is great and I like the this slices as well as the bread and the russian dressing. Given the choice, I would definitely go there over Katz's.

                                                            In descending order of preference these days, I would say: Sarge's, 2nd Avenue and then Katz's.

                                                            In terms of Defonte's, for me it's apples and oranges: Meatball/eggplant/fried shrimp parm or an italian hero v. corned beef and pastrami on rye...

                                                            1. re: StheJ

                                                              Well right, I agree, but people are missing the point of how Defonte's got into this discussion.

                                                              I used it as an example of a large portioned sandwich, and also one that is involved to make, which requires some effort. Katz's doesn't, despite the reverence people have for the hand slicing. That was the only comparison being made.

                                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                                I guess... but usually they just slap some meatballs on a roll with parmesan and throw it in the oven for a few minutes or simply spoon the potato and eggs on the roll. You're probably right wrt the italian heros though...

                                                              2. re: StheJ

                                                                So StheJ, if I were a lover of the Reuben sandwich (and I am), and I wanted to have an awesome one here in Manhattan (and I do), would you recommend I go to Sarge's, 2nd Avenue, or somewhere else?

                                                                1. re: therenowtoo

                                                                  Well, I definitely would not recommend 2nd Ave as it is kosher, so no Reuben.

                                                                  1. re: therenowtoo

                                                                    Got nothing for you... Not a big reuben fan.

                                                                    1. re: StheJ

                                                                      Sorry for misunderstanding, StheJ. You mentioned liking corned beef, rye and russian dressing, so I figured you likely were a fellow reuben lover. Nevermind! And thanks for the pointer to Sarge's, windycity. Maybe I'll check it out.

                                                                  2. re: Spends Rent on Food

                                                                    I agree with you about Sarge's except IMHO, Sarge's is better than Katz's

                                                              3. I don't know if it's changed or not because I've only been once and will not go back. I was there a couple weeks ago, and the sandwich wasn't what I would consider large at all. And for $15 I didn't consider it compelling at all.

                                                                The place is depressing, the "service" was sour, the ticket system is lame, the milling around the counter stunk. The pastrami was tasty, but there wasn't that much of it. And the totality of the experience didn't do it for me or my girlfriend at all.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: Slob


                                                                  Curiosity has gotten the better of me.I am not familiar with the "ticket system" mentioned here.Could someone please explain?

                                                                  Thank You,Robin

                                                                  1. re: Robinez

                                                                    When you walk in you are given a ticket if you are heading to the counter to order. You wait on line and order your food. Once you get your food you give the counterman your ticket and he writes down what ya had and its cost. If you want a drink or a pastry you head down the counter towards the back and every time you get something else you give in your ticket and then write down what ya have. When you are done you leave your plates and cups at the table, you then leave and on the way out there is a booth in which you pay. Its a pretty stupid system and to be honest It seems they just charge you whatever they want.

                                                                    I paid $19.11 for a Roast Beef on Rye with Lettuce and a Dr. Browns Root Beer Can. The whole area is going down if you ask me.

                                                                    1. re: Recursion

                                                                      you are given a ticket , wherever you are headed. if your ticket remains pure and unsullied, due to either waiter service , or having everything put on someone else's ticket , you still need it to get out of the place.

                                                                2. Nobody's yet mentioned whether they get bigger sandwiches if they get waiter service (sit along the wall). We always use a waiter (and tip the waiter, ahead of time, very nicely -- that's the deal and has been the deal for a long time). We never leave without tons of leftovers.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: shaogo

                                                                    I can attest that the waiters do "hook up" your sandwiches, vs. ordering yourself. We used to live on 2nd street and went to Katz's very frequently, and thats honestly what we think - -the sanwiches are the sides are more generous, table side.

                                                                    1. re: shaogo

                                                                      I ate there with waiter service and had a small sandwich, and a small portion of fries and a small piece of cheesecake as well. To leave a deli still hungry after all of that is a shanda.

                                                                      1. re: OC Mutt

                                                                        The operative word here is "small." Did you *order* a "small" sandwich, fries, and cheesecake? Katz's doesn't *offer* any "small" sizes (except, I think, drinks). One of the things that burns me about some of my customers (I'm in the restaurant business) is when they ask for "a small (whatever)" -- we don't offer any "small" portions.

                                                                        If your server brought you a small sandwich and you merely ordered a "sandwich" then you should've complained. Had I received not one, but three skimpy items, I'd have opened my mouth (yes, even at the venerable Katz's).

                                                                        The waiters at Katz's are very savvy. I have sat there and listened to people at the next table whine about everything to these poor guys. The complainers (you'd say "schnorers"?) get what's coming to them.

                                                                        Like I said before, I tip handsomely -- up front -- and tell the server we're happy to be there. We're always treated commensurately.

                                                                        You paid a visit to what's arguably the most popular, busy deli in New York City. The shanda is that you couldn't have a good time. Next time, buy the pastrami by the pound and make yourself a sandwich that won't leave you hungry.

                                                                        1. re: shaogo

                                                                          There won't be a next time. I prefer the Carnegie. Argue all you like about the pastrami, I prefer it, I just didn't think Katz's was that much better. Add the mediocre rye bread and small size and this is just my preference. And the Carnegie's cheesecake is my absolute favorite in this deli genre' . BTW, I'm an ultra-polite, please and thank you sort of customer who tips well as long as the waiter doesn't urinate on my food, so I don't think anything beyond that should be necessary to get optimal service, a decent portion or the best food a restaurant has to offer.

                                                                    2. I haven't been to Katz's in a couple of months, but after all this talk I have to go see if all this is true. :D
                                                                      With my apologies, but "third the size" I find hard to believe. Next time I go I'll have my camera with me (I always do) and I'll take a picture to compare with the one(s) I have from the past visits. Such I won't be able to grossly under- or over-state the size of it.

                                                                      For one Katz's is charming and fun, for another is depressing... That's the beauty of Chowhound - you get to read different opinions :)

                                                                      1. Visited with coworker who went and she said she didn't say anything, but she said they were not well filled. She tipped, sampled, but sandwiches were on the skimpy side. She said when she has seen them on TV, they are huge but thought that was because it was being filmed and because they were celebrity personalities or people they knew.

                                                                        1. I've been going to Katz' for at least 50 years. I have not noticed any change in the quality or quantity of the pastrami on rye. Tip or no tip the counterman always gives me a taste. Maybe you got a grumpy counterman.
                                                                          The last time I was at a club on Ludow I was thrilled to find Katz' open at 1 AM and filled with people. I spoke with one of the managers who said they figured out if the streets were full of people on the weekends maybe they might be hungry. Brilliant!!!

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Motosport

                                                                            The size of the sandwiches havent changed at all. Maybe the owner was watching the counterman when you ordered, they are instructed to give a certain amount of meat which is a generous portion. That is what you get when you get it from a table waiter. if you tip you get more at the counter, If the owner is behind the counter they are afraid to give more . The owners have shaved heads and beards,,if you see them wait until they leave then order. Katz's is the best

                                                                          2. I went to Katz today. The notion that somebody could get 2-3 meals out of one sandwich is pretty ridiculous. You would have to eat so little every day for that to happen.

                                                                            I waited on line for about 5 minutes for Benny, he was nice and I gave him a tip. I got the Roast Beef on Rye with mustard and a plate of sweet pickles. Along with a Dr. Browns Root Beer. Everything was good and tasty, but to be honest it is not worth the price. The best thing about the place was the mustard.

                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Recursion

                                                                              i appreciate that you registered a new account to chime in, but a couple things.

                                                                              1) three quarters of a pound of meat is enough for three meals.

                                                                              2) one eats more than one meal a day, so eating four ounces of meat plus slaw, plus pickles is a nice meal sandwiched (no pun intended) between french toast and fruit and sushi.

                                                                              3) the price? better or worse than a david chang place?

                                                                              4) sweet pickles? ewww (kidding, sorta, but really, sweet pickles? may as well get pastrami on white with mayo and lettuce)

                                                                              1. re: david sprague

                                                                                It not just the weight , but the moisture content. Curing pastrami reduces weight to (I think) 40%. the function of the steam table is to infuse water and push the weight back up. Sometimes to the point that the meat is sodden- and heavy and full looking.

                                                                                David- You know, cheescake would go really well with the sandwich which you describe. Maybe with yahgdes on top to make it authentic.


                                                                                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                  "...the function of the steam table is to infuse water and push the weight back up. ..."

                                                                                  The function of steaming the meat for a couple of hours is to make it tender. It's the hallmark of a good pastrami sandwich.
                                                                                  If you don't want properly steamed pastrami, you might as well just buy the Boar's Head junk they sell at Stop 'N Shop.

                                                                                2. re: david sprague

                                                                                  David, Are you ordering it as "I'd like three quarters pound of meat" ?
                                                                                  I don't recall them putting the meat on a scale before placing it on the bread. They do it by intuition.

                                                                                  Unless you brought a pocket scale with you, there's no way to know how much meat you got, or how much meat the person next to you got.

                                                                                  You're now describing snacks, not meals, if you're balancing a sandwich out with sushi and french toast. That's paints a different picture, right?

                                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                    erm, not a snack sugar

                                                                                    i have -- on a bet -- weighed a katz sandwich. about three years ago. a side by side with carnegie. carnegie weighed in at about a pound, katz at about three quarters.

                                                                                    maybe i have been the one and only ridiculously lucky person who hasn't been ripped off over the years --- the sole survivor who continues to get the same sandwich from year to year. if so, thank the pastrami deity!

                                                                                    and as for 'snacks'?

                                                                                    may i ask, do you eat one meal a day, or perhaps more than one. i tend to eat in the morning. then again at lunch. and perhaps again at dinner. if i order a pastrami sandwich, i don't intend for it to be my only food for 24 hours.

                                                                                  2. re: david sprague

                                                                                    Im sorry, but im a fan of the sweetpickles compared top the hot sweet pickles. Its just what I like and its what everybody else in my party liked also. I went to Katz today for lunch, ate around 3pm and needed another meal around 7pm.

                                                                                    I ate half a pastrami and half a roast beef. I really was not a fan of the pastrami, possible because I had never had pastrami before, but to me it simply tasted like hot dogs on rye.

                                                                                    1. re: Recursion

                                                                                      The problem with your pastrami sandwich must have been that the rye bread was blah. Sic transit gloria. (she's the waitress.)

                                                                                      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                        Im usually more of a fan of caraway seeded rye, but the bread was decent. I didn't get served, I ordered at the counter.

                                                                                        All I am saying is I know quite a few Deli's in the Bronx which give drastically bigger portions at half the price with similar quality.

                                                                                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                            Yankee Tavern made a decent pastrami sandwich back in the day. Do they still get the nod? Not sure, and I doubt they're charging $14.50 per sandwich either. Is it Katz's quality meat? Of course not, but it's certainly a worthy contender for second or third best.

                                                                                            Here --> http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_E-gIi620L2g...

                                                                                          2. re: Recursion

                                                                                            can you name one of the bronx delis that offers a drastically bigger portion of katz-quality pastrami on a sandwich? i'd make the trip for that.

                                                                                            whoa...and i just looked above and realized i was debating pastrami with someone who admits he or she knows nothing about pastrami.

                                                                                            jeepers..with that in mind, one might say tad's offers a better deal than peter luger!

                                                                                            good natured jest here, but really now

                                                                                            1. re: david sprague

                                                                                              Pastosa, Avitabile Brothers, oh and Mike's.

                                                                                              1. re: Recursion

                                                                                                Mike's? I'd love to see someone order a pastrami on rye at Mike's!

                                                                                                I've got to assume you're ignoring david sprague's question ("can you name one of the bronx delis that offers a drastically bigger portion of katz-quality pastrami on a sandwich?") and just talking about sandwiches in general.

                                                                                                Actually, Leibman's on 235th makes a good and decent-sized pastrami on rye, and is a solid neighborhood option, but the sandwich doesn't compare to Katz's at its best - or Carnegie's for that matter. Note that my one experience at Sarge's was sufficiently uninspiring that I have not gone back (yeah, I probably owe them a second taste), and 2nd Ave. Deli was never a great place for pastrami. In fact, my current favorite pastrami spot is Irving's Deli in Livingston, NJ. Go figure.

                                                                                  3. I just don't believe the Chowhounds who're complaining about a $19 roast beef sandwich, much less a $14.50 pastrami sandwich.

                                                                                    The place is packed all the time -- with people paying those prices. As the old saying goes, "if you wanna play, you gotta pay."

                                                                                    Conrad Hilton said that if one's hotel has an occupancy rate of over 90%, then one ought to raise the room rates.

                                                                                    Katz's is charging what the market will bear. And the way to get a big sandwich is to pay (tip) for it -- generously.

                                                                                    20 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: shaogo

                                                                                      I agree with almost everything you have to say except when it comes to sandwich size. Tip before, tip after, no tip at all the sandwiches and the sample are the same. I've tipped before and after the sandwiches are all the same. As I said upthread, the cutters make scores of sandwiches a day. They are on auto-pilot, the sandwiches size and samples don't deviate.

                                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                        and david bouley charges three times as much for a burger that's ha;f the size and one-third as tasty.

                                                                                      2. re: shaogo

                                                                                        Wait, you really don't understand why people would complain over a $14-19 sandwich?

                                                                                        Really? There are trained chefs cooking entrees using local farm fresh ingredients at that price point.

                                                                                        Also, how do you account for the bread shrinking, or the fact that it's not even a good NY Rye at that price? Did Hilton make the rooms smaller, and start using cheaper sheets when he raised the rates?

                                                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                          The rye has been the same for over a decade. It is just a pastrami delivery device. Complaining about the bread at Katz's is like complaining that the stereo controls in your Ferrari is in a bad position.

                                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                            Think of the rye bread as an edible napkin to keep your hands (somewhat) clean.

                                                                                            1. re: ESNY

                                                                                              Haha, great minds! Or you have an incredible memory!


                                                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                Thats great. Good to know we're consistent!!

                                                                                            2. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                              The rye has been the same for at least 60 years (and maybe longer, but I don't go back any farther). It came out of a white opaque wax paper wrapper. That why I (and my family) always got our sandwiches on club (not that that that piece of rubber is any prize either).

                                                                                              1. re: bobjbkln

                                                                                                bobjbkln, in your years of getting pastrami at Katz's have you seen the size of the sandwich shrink?

                                                                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                  Truth is, we haven't been to Katz's in the last 10 months, but before that, I think the sandwiches have always been the same thickness (can't swear that the rye slices are the same size or that the club is cut to the same length). Also, on the tipping controversy, I never tip (or hold out the tip) before getting the sandwich and have never felt short changed.

                                                                                              2. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                I think the Rye may have shrunk in that time, but yes it's been the same quality of bread for at least 20+ years.....however I beg to differ. The Rye in a Pastrami on Rye sandwich is what makes it a pastrami on Rye. If you consider your bread to be garnish, why order a sandwich? Rye isn't just a ritual, it's a perfect match of flavor time tested. New Yorkers have access to decent rye, so it makes no sense.

                                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                  Lol, the rye has never accounted for more then 1/5 or 1/10 of the volume of the sandwich. If you want to have a perfect match between the bread and the meat you are going contrary to one of your arguments. There should be less meat if you want your "perfect match of flavor time tested".

                                                                                                  Btw, there have been many post lamenting the passing of decent rye bread. Where do you get yours?

                                                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                    Huh? Volume to flavor ratio depends on the sandwich. This wouldn't even be a discussion with a good Pastrami sandwich on a good rye....it just works...there's a reason why people chose bread and not say, literally, a napkin. Surely you believe at some point they used real Rye, right? I mean, it doesn't sound like you really have a preference for Rye styled white bread either.

                                                                                                    I haven't bought myself a rye bread in a while.

                                                                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                      IMO, you can't have it both ways. Maybe I haven't eaten the rye bread that can stand up to 3/4 pounds of meat but as with BBQ brisket the bread is an after thought when you are consuming so much meat.

                                                                                                      You might be surprised to know that decent rye bread is harder to find then you might think.

                                                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                        Katz's could have their rye custom made for them with the volume they do...this is a conscious choice to use the cheap bread.

                                                                                                        You lost me on the brisket comparison and it's not impressive to hear about this 3/4 pound of meat in light o the premise of this thread.
                                                                                                        I'm not entirely sure you're ordering a sandwich, or just the bread on the side, and I'm not sure you like pastrami on rye in the form of a sandwich.
                                                                                                        We're not going to get anywhere with that though.

                                                                                                        Have you managed to find a rye you liked?

                                                                                                      2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                        Sorry, as I said, I've been eating at Katz's for 60 years, and their rye was never better than it is today. Of course Katz's goes back even longer, so you might be right.

                                                                                                        As to good rye bread: Fairway makes a decent one; as do the Catskill's based Bread Alone people available at Greenmarkets and some supermarkets. I used to like Zaro's but haven't had it in years. I'd guess Zabar's would be pretty good as well.

                                                                                              3. re: shaogo

                                                                                                The sandwiches are not big. Thats the thing, no matter how much you tip you will still get a smalled sandwich than 99% of all the deli;s in nyc. Even my local bodegas give more substance than Katz,

                                                                                                1. re: Recursion

                                                                                                  Sorry, but not a single one of the bodegas I've ever been to have steam cabinets.
                                                                                                  The 2+ hour steambath that a pastrami gets in a "real" traditional style deli is key to the beauty of this sandwich.

                                                                                                  Sliced Boars'Head pastrami served cold or heated in a microwave doesn't come anywhere near the succulence of a good pastrami sandwich like Katz's (or Sarge's, or 2nd Ave's, or Carnegie's, or Irving's in NJ).
                                                                                                  You're right that any deli can make a pastrami sandwich. There just aren't many around anymore though that make a GOOD one.

                                                                                                  1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                    The poster never compared the quality of the meat, just the portion size, which I agree, is not up to the standard of other delis, including the crappy Boar's Head at the corner variation.

                                                                                                    People are leaving the deli hungry.

                                                                                                  2. re: Recursion

                                                                                                    So by your logic, I assume you go to Tad's Steak instead of Peter Lugers or Keens because they serve a bigger steak at a fraction of the cost.

                                                                                                2. I checked what Kenny & Zukes Deli in Portland, Oregon was charging for Pastramie on Rye, $11.75. So Katz is $2.75 more than that. I imagine it costs at least that amount more to do business in New York.


                                                                                                  1. Ate at Katz tonight and the pastrami on rye did seem noticeably smaller than in the past, despite my upfront tip to the server behind the counter. Meat quality was as good as ever, but I left hungry and had to make an emergency knish stop down the street. I'll still return - when the urge for good pastrami hits, nothing else satisfies - but It is a slender man who can make three meals out of one of these sandwiches...

                                                                                                    1. i would say they probably are a little smaller than in the past. but not to the level of chintzy.

                                                                                                      1. Folks, we're locking this thead now. Thanks.