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Mar 2, 2010 12:30 PM

Katz Deli- Made it there for the first time ever and it did not disappoint

Wow being a native New Yorker and living here my whole life nobody would believe me when I said that I have never eaten at Katz. Especially since I am an ultra foodie. So today was the day to experience it first hand and oh my God was it unbelievable.

You hear all the time about these "must try" institutions and many times are disappointed because they turn out to be so overhyped. But not Katz. Katz deserves all the praise, accolades, and props that it gets.

Went for lunch with my buddy from work and we split the following.

Pastrami and Swiss on Rye with Mustard- Ordered extra fatty, juicy, and sliced thick and that is exactly what I got. The meat was piled high and thick and had plenty of fatty unctuous juiciness to it. Literally just oozing with flavor! The best pastrami in the world.

Brisket on Rye with Mustard- Also a standout. Was wary that this would be dry, but again thick, juicy, nice marbelized fat and oh so tasty. It was a great idea to share a half of each sandwich.

Sweet Potato Knish- I LOVE sweet potatoes and never had a sweet potato knish before just a regular. This was seriously delicious and just the right amount of sweetnes like I expected.

Vanilla and Chocolate egg cream- Both were very good. Make with Ubet's syrup.

Usually not a fan of rye but it just complemented both sandwiches so perfectly. Marriage made in heaven. Service was great- gave the counter man his dollar tip and he gave us samples. Provided us with our sandwiches promptly and without any questions just the way we ordered them and gave us 8 pickles for just the two of us.

Overall Katz is pricy and it cost us $50 for two but hey you gotta pay for quality and their reputation. Well worth the money and kings do not eat this well. Definitely one of the MUST eats in our great city and the only thing I am kicking myself about is not coming here years ago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Katz's Delicatessen
205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

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  1. Uh, steakrules, You know I love ya but pastramil and Swiss cheese?!!!!!!! OY!!!!!

    In any case, glad to hear that you loved the pastrami at Katz's. Now, on to Sarge's! :)

    47 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      You must try Sarge's--best pastrami in NYC. I love RGR's photo of the pastrami sandwich!

      1. re: RGR

        At least he didn't put mayo on it!!! Katz's, Sarges and 2nd Av Deli have great pastrami. Katz's gets a big plus for a unique experience.
        Here is a pic of my last 2nd Av Pastrami sammich. Well half of it. I couldn't wait to eat some before I took the picture.

        1. re: RGR

          Why is it permissable to have Reuben with swiss cheese but not a sandwich?

          these silly rules and urban legends about these places , particularly Katzs takes alot of the fun out of it . For example, you have to order from the counter to get a better sandwich that is extra fatty or lean or that you have tip to get a bigger sandwich. It's all BS. You want swiss cheese get it with swiss cheese. Remeber that crazy poster that was adamant about what weather turns out the best Katz sandwich, LOL!

          Langer's (LA) #19 sandwich (rye, pastrami, swiss, cole slaw, russian) is their most popular and most "authentic" sandwich (and is a significantly better sandwich then anything katz's turns out, imo) I ordered a sandwich at Langer's recently Katz style just rye (which is so so much better than katz's) mustard and pastrami and they looked at me funny...

          1. re: Cpalms

            A Reuben is a grilled sammich with swiss ans saurkraut that you eat with a knife and fork.
            Not in the same ballpark as a hot Pastrami on rye with a little cole slaw, russian dressing and real deli mustard. Heavenly!!

            1. re: Motosport

              "Motosport - A Reuben is a grilled sammich with swiss ans saurkraut that you eat with a knife and fork. "

              I'm sorry but you are incorrect, proper reubens are not open faced sandwichs they are closed just like they serve at KATZS!! or Eisenberg's like the one pictured in this guys blog

              "not in the same ballpark" , says who?...that is exactly what I was saying in my original post...the group think regarding what is right and wrong at these places is just BS and causes eaters to miss...

              1. re: Cpalms

                OMIGOSH!! I am ashamed to say I have never had a "closed" Reuben. I promise to try one at my first opportunity.

                1. re: Motosport

                  OK I did it! I had a Reuben sammich at a diner in Redhook NY (Not Brooklyn) on Saturday, Excellent way to eat a Reuben. I'll probably still get a Pastrami on Rye at Katz's.

              2. re: Motosport

                Russian dressing!? You do realize that russian dressing is about 65% mayonnaise.

                1. re: E Eto

                  Not at Katz'. Their Russian dressing has no mayo.

              3. re: Cpalms


                I was kind of joking with my good friend, steakrules. If he likes cheese on his pastrami, chacun à son goût! .

                The no cheese on a pastrami sandwich -- or any deli meat sandwich -- is actually a Jewish thing because Jews who keep kosher cannot mix meat and dairy. Thus, those of us who grew up in kosher homes and ate only in kosher delis never considered putting cheese on a pastrami sandwich because, of course, kosher delis cannot serve any dairy products. Ergo, if you go to 2nd Avenue Deli, which is kosher, no cheese on pastrami and no Reubens. Katz's and Sarge's have never been kosher, but the deli served at both is Jewish-style.

                1. re: RGR

                  and you won't get an egg cream at 2nd Ave deli. They do give you a nice little gass of chocolate soda (seltzer and Fox's Ubet) after your meal.

                  1. re: RGR

                    Oops, I should have known... given then number of meals I have eaten in conservative homes, especially when I was a kid, I'm embarrassed It didn't come to mind...

                  2. re: Cpalms

                    I couldn't believe that Langer's No. 1 selling sandwich was pastrami (and I find theirs better than Katz's) with Russian dressing. What are the people in L.A. thinking? Where is Charles Manson when we need him?

                    1. re: Cpalms

                      I'm with you on the urban legends stuff. I've long been frustrated with Katz's rye bread, flimsy flavorless stuff that disintegrates under the weight of the sandwich. I told some friends I was going to switch to the more substantial club roll. I figure it will stand up to the meat better.

                      "You can't do that."

                      "Why not?"

                      "The rye bread is a tradition."

                      "Yeah, but it sucks."

                      "Well, sure it sucks but it's still a tradition. You have to have it."

                      Well, no I don't. I'll be trying the club roll on my next visit. I'm looking forward to the howls of outrage.

                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                        I've been eating at Katz' for 60 years now and can assure you that in the 1950's Club Bread WAS the TRADITION. The Rye bread (as bad then as it is now) was rarely ordered. (Perhaps this was because the club, which cost no more than the rye, seemed like a better value to the many customers who had grown up during the depression).

                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                          I mentioned above about Langer's in LA, While I have only been there a 3 or four times, it has completely changes my opinion of Katz's - The sandwiches on their fabulous rye lets you know just how much Katz's can improve. Katz's pastrami on rye is SO far away from the perfect sandwich it's no even funny. The only thing I can liken Katz's rye bread to is a North Carolina BBQ experts that smokes their pork butts all day, take so much care and time doing so - only to then make a pulled pork sandwich on crap ass white bread they bought from 7-Eleven. All in the name of "tradition" or the "right" way to do it. Makes no sense to me.

                          1. re: Cpalms

                            NC bbq is all about the meat and sauce, not the bread. What kind of bread do you think it should be served on?

                            1. re: carolinadawg

                              just about anything but that crappy white (wonder?) bread it traditionaly is...

                              "NC bbq is all about the meat and sauce, not the bread"

                              again to my point about the traditional or right way to do things can lead to a end result that is not as good as it could be, how could using a better quality item, integral to the sandwich not make it better?...the bread could be anything that matches the efforts that went into making the pig and the sauce and not an afterthought bought at a convenience store...

                              1. re: Cpalms

                                LOL...if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

                          2. re: Bob Martinez


                            Back in the day when I was growing up on the LES, club bread was actually an equal choice for Jewish deli sandwiches. For some, it was the premier choice. The kosher deli my family regularly patronized is long gone -- Gitlitz, on Rivington St. (across from where Schiller's located). I distinctly remember often having pastrami sandwiches on club bread there.

                            So, go for it! :)

                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                              I always get the club bread. The rye is just plain awful.

                              1. re: StheJ

                                I actually usually dislike rye bread. For two reasons- 1. not a huge fan of the taste in general, 2. it usually is not a great vehicle for sandwiches because it tends to crumble and not hold the meat well.

                                However, at Katz I found neither of these to be a problem. The rye for me didn't really have that powerful of a rye taste (which I guess is the main complaint by many but for me I hate that rye taste so it worked out). And it actually didn't crumble and held the meat quiet well throughout the whole time.

                                1. re: steakrules85

                                  The rye flavor is not the main complaint. And you're right. It doesn't have a strong rye taste, especially as it is unseeded. Since the flabby bread breaks apart from the weight and juiciness of the meat, I don't know how you managed not to have that problem. Maybe it was the cheese acting as glue. (/snark)

                                  1. re: RGR

                                    Who knows R? But yes there were tons of meat and tons of juice and luckily I had no problems whatsoever.

                                    How many ounces do you think are in those babies? I'd say it had to weigh in at at least 14-16.

                                    1. re: steakrules85

                                      I'm sure there is at least a pound of meat on each sandwich. Mr. R. and I always share one sandwich. Same at Sarge's.

                                    2. re: RGR

                                      Not to get too picky but an unseeded rye bread will still taste like rye, just not of caraway seeds. Still I agree the bread at Sarges is better but the pastrami isn't

                            2. re: RGR

                              The swiss was only 2 thin slices and it melted in nicely with the pastrami. i just always have to "gild the lily" you know me. But yes it didnt need it in the least. seriously delicious. To be honest, I do not think that there is any way Sarge's will surpass Katz for me. I seriously loved the thick slices that Katz gives you and Sarge's look like the thin slices that are generated from electric slicers.

                              Katz way of slicing eat sandwich the old fashion way with fork and knife is so intriguing and definitely sets them apart.

                              1. re: steakrules85

                                Is Sarge's better than Katz's?

                                Not in my opinion. In fact, I'd place Sarge's 3rd in Manhattan, after Katz's and Carnegie, but before 2nd Ave (like some of their other old-school deli stuff, but not their meats). I also don't put cheese on pastrami or corned beef (probably my upbringing), and in my old nabe, Russian dressing was strictly for Roast Beef.

                                Then again, my favorite sandwich (what's a "sammich"?) was the 8th Street Special, served at the long-gone 8th St. Deli, which consisted of roast turkey, chopped liver, and a slice of Bermuda onion, served on a roll smeared with schmaltz. :)

                                1. re: Striver

                                  Striver:(what's a "sammich"?) back in olden times before the internet and Tweets there was a TV ad (probably B&W) for Levy's Jewish Rye Bread. Two deli countermen (probably @ Katz's) were commenting on the bread in a heavy New Yawk accent: "It makes a nice sammich, a nice sammich!" Since then, it's always been a sammich to me.

                                  1. re: Motosport

                                    Levy's Jewish Rye - you could love it and you didn't have to be Jewish! Thanks for the memory and the explanation. :)

                                    1. re: Motosport

                                      "from a deli man, that's a rave"

                                  2. re: steakrules85


                                    It's true that Sarge's pastrami is a different style and is not hand-sliced. But no matter. If you specify "very fatty" -- as I always do -- what you will get is pastrami that is super-succulent and the seriously delicious equal to the pastrami at Katz's.

                                    My specification for "very fatty" at 2nd Avenue Deli got me something close to shoe leather. Yech! As for the pastrami at Carnegie! Feh! I wouldn't waste the calories....

                                    1. re: RGR

                                      Bravo RGR! I couldn't have said it better myself. Steakrules should also try Sarge's delicious chopped liver and noodle pudding.

                                      1. re: ellenost

                                        One thing I would never eat is chopped liver. Sorry Ellen!

                                        1. re: steakrules85

                                          no chopped liver!?!?? chopped liver is probably the greatest thing my dad ever showed me lol jking (well actually now that I think about it's up there with kiska lol) Anyways I think chopped liver is delicious. never had it anywhere else except for sammy's and katz. I hope some place didn't ruin it for u, but if u change your mind i thought it was great from those 2 places.

                                          1. re: daffyduck

                                            Sammy's is great too (especially when you can add as much schmaltz as you want!).

                                            1. re: daffyduck

                                              Never tried it but don't have a desire too. Don't like anything with a tuna fish consistency.

                                              1. re: steakrules85

                                                id say something is wrong with both the chopped liver and the tuna fish you've had ;)

                                                  1. re: steakrules85


                                                    Chopped liver does not have a tuna fish consistency at all.

                                                    1. re: steakrules85

                                                      What exactly do you mean by "tuna fish consistency"? Like cheap canned tuna? Because tuna (or any fish) can encompass an enormous range of textures and flavors, depending on freshness, quality, and preparation style. That's sort of like saying there's a single "beef consistency," lumping Big Mac patties and A5 grade Kobe together. Besides, "tuna" usually refers to several species of fish, so there's even less specificity.

                                                      1. re: hcbk0702

                                                        I am talking about like tuna fish like bumblebee tuna. Anything pastey or chopped up is just not for me. Pates, etc.

                                            2. re: ellenost

                                              Thanks for the kudo, ellenost! The only things I've ordered at Sarge's are pastrami, cole slaw, and chicken noodle soup with matzoh balls (the last mainly for Mr. R.). Oh, and the 7-layer cake, which I'm pretty sure they bring in.

                                              I will try the chopped liver sometime. Does the noodle pudding have raisins in it? If so, it's a no-go for me because I detest raisins.


                                              Have you ever tasted truly delicious chopped liver? I suppose that means you won't eat foie gras either? If so, that's truly a pity!

                                              1. re: RGR

                                                i think the last time i was at sarges we got a little scoop of the chopped liver gratis with our pickles and slaw. it was good and all mine as my dining companion is, like steakrules, a non liver eater.

                                                i dont recall asking for it, and im sure i didnt get charged, but maybe this isnt a regular thing?

                                                1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                  I also was gifted with some chopped liver at Sarge's. It was good - in fact, much better than the pastrami, which I found disappointing with an overly salty taste dominating any other flavor. I would note that the size was fine, and the cut was fatty, as requested. It just wasn't particularly great, and certainly not worth seeking out, IMO. My local deli in the Bx - Leibman's on 235th and Johnson Ave - has better pastrami than Sarge's (Leibman's is a solid local deli, worth a stop if you're in the vicinity).

                                                  That was my one experience with Sarge's pastrami. I've said that I'll return to try it again because of my general respect for RGR's opinions (and maybe I just hit a badly prepared instance), but haven't had the opportunity.

                                                  1. re: Striver

                                                    Striver, I'm honored to know that you respect my opinion. :)

                                                    I'm sorry the pastrami at Sarge's disappointed you. Honestly, we've had it at least half a dozen times within the past year or so both in the restaurant and delivered (most recently, just this past weekend), and it has never failed to be superb. I'm fairly salt-sensitive and have never noticed it being the predominant flavor.

                                                    Sarge's does deliver 24/7, but I think it's only in Manhattan. If you do manage to get there to try it again, I hope you'll report back.

                                                2. re: RGR


                                                  I think the noodle pudding may have raisins--their noodle pudding is definitely the sweet kind--, but I'm not too sure. Next time I have it (which I hope is soon), I'll be sure to notice and let you know. My sister loves Sarge's Super Soup (chicken noodle, kreplach and matzoh ball). Sarge's is one of the few restaurants I miss now that I live on the UES, but Sarge's does deliver uptown.

                                        2. Glad to see you liked it. I happen to enjoy it as well though I never had the swiss on the sandwich, kind of like a reuben which makes me intrigued. I also never had the brisket which sounds good from your description. I actually hardly get the pastrami either due to my love of tongue.

                                          This is actually a good post for what and how to order for any newbies.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: MVNYC

                                            Tongue is my Katz's sandwich of choice

                                            1. re: pbjluver

                                              A quick funny story that actually happened. I stopped at Ben's deli on LI (now closed) to pick up a pastrami sammich on my way home. I order the sammich. An attractive well dressed woman walks in and asks the cashier if her order is ready. He shouts across to the counterman "Who's got the hot tongue for Mrs Melman." Everyone cracked up.

                                          2. glad you liked it! my favorite thing there is the pastrami reuben then chopped liver.
                                            i hope you didnt forget to stop by Russ and Daughters!