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just ate Katz's in NYC... how does it compare to Langers?

  • m

This is an except from my full NYC report (see link below)

Mr. Taster


It sounds apocryphal. How could the New Yorker claim that Los Angeles had a jewish deli with better pastrami than New York? I decided to taste test for myself. I'd heard a lot about Katz's but had never been there. Walked in. Navigated the funny ordering system (for those familiar, it’s sort of like Philippes in downtown LA except at Katz’s they give you a ticket when you walk in the door that the counter man marks your orders on). I walk up to my own personal pastrami carver. I ask for a taste.

I’ve had Langers pastrami sandwich in LA enough times now that its memory is permanently ingrained in my head. It’s delicious stuff. So tender, and steamed for so long that if it were “on the bone” it would, in fact “fall off the bone.” Also, Langer’s does this unusual steam toasting of their sandwich rye so that you get a lovely crunchy rim around the edge of the sandwich, but the middle stays soft.

I asked my counter man at Katz’s for a sample. I see that he’s got on the counter in front of him a beautiful piece of meat. He carves off a generous sample for me. My first impression… it’s damn good. It has a unique, robust, peppery flavor – but not overpoweringly so. The texture—it’s definitely tender, though Langer’s definitely gives extra steam time to their cut. Though the texture and tenderness of Langer’s is better, I like the flavor of Katz’s pastrami more. I order a sandwich. He piles on a very generous portion of pastrami—easily double the amount that Langer’s puts on theirs. Unfortunately, this is put on rye bread out of the bad—no steaming, no toasting, etc. It makes a damn good sandwich, but Langer’s edges ahead by a nose for the extra dimension their super crispy rye crust brings to the sandwich.

Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

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  1. Every time I go to NYC I do a taste-test agains the competition and Langers still comes out on top.

    Although Katz does give you a lot more meat, the superior bread and IMO tastier, less dry pastami at Langer's still reigns supreme. Not to mention you can get those good crinkle cut fries at Langers!

    7 Replies
    1. re: Ernie

      I agree with Ernie, those crinkle cut fries are great. I just wish they serve them on a bigger plate. They kind of fall all over the place. But they are sure good. I ate at Katz'z twice while in town and found the pastrami to be extremely moist and tender. No dryness at all. I also have never had a dry pastrami at Langers either. I guess personal preference takes me to Katz's as #1.

      1. re: dave

        Katz's is definitely moist, but Langer's is definitely more tender. Katz's pastrami still had a slight chew to it whereas Langer's almost has the texture of meat from a long simmering stew.

        Mr. Taster

        1. re: Mr. Taster

          I've eaten at both Katz's and Langers in the past year. Langers is better. Katz's features thick cut slices and is greasier, good but not great. Langers is luscious, velvety, with bigger flavor, and better rye bread. I'm from New York, and I have to side with Langers. And actually, it's not close.

        2. re: dave

          Sorry but i have to take exception to the comment about Langers "crinkle cut " fries...gotta say that the half dozen times ive been to Langers for their great pastrami, ive been truly disappointed by their fries...until proven otherwise, id say they are frozen and bought by the ton from elsewhere...awful excusse for fries, especially when paired with the delicious sandwich...Dear Lord, i remember having great, well cooked crinkle cut fries in several different NY delis but these are a no Go! and that bad excuse for a potato knish....hell, it looks like the mountain Richard Dreyfuss built out of clay in "Close Encounters."

          1. re: lapizzamaven

            Frozen bought elsewhere doesn't necessarily equal bad. I doubt Big Jo makes their own fries but they fry them really well.

            1. re: TheOffalo

              the steak fries I had at brents and canters recently were terrific and no doubt frozen too. i got no problems with the langers fries...are they great, no, but at least they have fries unlike greenblatts!

      2. I would have to say that Katz's & Langers are two of the best deli's in the USA. I checked out Katz's in October and it was fabulous. You pick out a counter man, tell him what you want and they cut by hand per order. They give you a hand written slip that you give to the cashier when leaving. The pastrami was the tenderest, smokiest and most succulent pastrami I've ever had. It was SO TENDER that it literally fell off the rye. As good as Langers is, this was the best. It just has that old school deli feel to it. Anyone who travels to NYC must stop at Katz's. Langers is my favorite in LA. I don't believe anyone comes close. they double bake their rye bread, hand slice the pastrami. it's great.

        1 Reply
        1. re: dave

          At Katz's there are 3 stations. I remember having to drop off (pick up?) tickets and my order from all 3. I know one was for drinks and one was for meat, sandwiches, omelets and I think the third was pancakes and something else. It was an adventure. I think that system or ordering is unique to them.

        2. I thoroughly enjoyed your NY post and the accompanying cry of disbelief from a local hound. Funny that "they" (other coasters) can't believe that pastrami technology ever got this far west. I'm glad, in the end, that your vote was for our side, but imagine the world will be a poorer place if the dispute is ever completely resolved.

          1. I totall agree about the meat but that rye bread at Langers, to me, more than noses out the competition, it leaves it in the dust. It is easily (the way they serve it) the best rye bread on the planet.

            1. I'm not sure I agree about your assessment of Katz's. Last time I tried it a few years ago, I found Katz's a big disappointment. I can't exactly describe it - a combination of slimy texture and a kind of fat built into the meat (as opposed to separate, if anyone can understand this).

              To me the NYC deli that gives Langer's a run for its money is Junior's in Grand Central. I thought their sandwich was pretty awesome.

              1. Its always fun to listen to a first timer. You didn't really taste the best of Katz's. I love both places and have been frequenting them for years. I don't really care which is better since they are 3000 miles away from each other. When I need my fix I go to the closest one. But you must grease the counter man at Katz's! You walk up with a couple of bucks visible in your hand so the guy knows he's getting tipped before hand! Then he reaches behind him and gets a fresh pastrami from the steamer. You should ask for lean but juicy. Unless you like fat in which case please leave your new plasma screen to me.
                Also ask for a platter not a sanwich. Its easier to hide inferior meat in a sandwich. Then ask for bread and half sour pickles on the side. There is no question the bread is better at Langers but the meat might be little bit better at Katz's, if you know what your doing.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Elon
                  ChowFun (derek)

                  I always ask for "Not Lean"!
                  Sorry no plasma tv for you...!
                  Thanks for the tip of asking for the platter..I'll do that next time I'm in NY (which will be mid March)...
                  as for the bread..as a boy growing up in Brooklyn..my Dad always had his sandwich on "Club Bread" so that is the way I order it...if a deli doesn't have Club Bread...no business from me (sorry Carnegie Deli)
                  So the question is...Does "Langer's" have Club?
                  Since I live in San Francisco...I might just need to travel south to Langer's if it can fill my deli cravings!!!

                2. Hi Folks-

                  Tempting as it may be to compare the east and west coasts temples of pastrami, please keep this discussion focussed on the best pastrami in L.A. and leave the discussion for Katz's for the Manhattan board.

                  As always, comparing Langer's to any of the other local, L.A. area deli's is totally appropriate for this board.

                  Thanks for helping us keep the regional boards truly regional.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                    where would you suggest we discuss comparisons of Katz's vs. Langer's? Each of these are extremely regional institutions, and as such certainly doesn't qualify as "general topics". Have we discovered a no-mans-land discussion?

                    Mr. Taster

                    1. re: Mr. Taster

                      Mr. Taster and others,

                      Please ask these sorts of follow-up questions on Site Talk, so we can keep the board chowcentric. If we get into back/forth on policy issues, it'll just dilute the chow talk and encourage others to do likewise.

                      If you do jump a thread to another board, you can always post a "heads up" letting others know to make the jump...as I've done below.


                      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/boards/sitet...

                    2. re: The Chowhound Team

                      Hate to disagree with the Chowhound Team and obviously you have the final word, but I think it's totally appropriate and regional, to ask people in L.A. who know both restaurants, to offer an opinion. I hope you'll reconsider -- I was looking forward to the rest of this discussion.

                      1. re: twistyhair

                        Please keep this board focused on discussing chow in LA, not moderator decisions. You can check out the Site Talk board, specifically the thread below, for a discussion on this topic. We'll remove these posts shortly, please no further responses here.

                        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/boards/sitet...

                    3. I have never eaten at Katz, but I don't even know if Langer's qualifys as pastrami. It has absolutely no smoke flavor. What is Pastrami without that long lingering finish of smoke? Langers is just corn beef with a spice rub.