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What do you eat at Katz's if you're not eating pastrami?

I know everyone goes back and forth on the Katz's pastrami thing (I loved it but then again the last time I ate there Bush Senior was president) but what else is worth trying? I'm bringing a NY deli n00b with me when I come up in September so I want to make sure he gets something good.

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  1. This is a flawed poll.....
    I've never gone there and not eaten pastrami... or maybe you mean in the moments between bites of the sandwich... french fries and pickles I suppose

    1. The brisket is quite good. And I like the tongue (but note that it is served cold). For smaller stuff, the Knobblewurst is excellent and the franks are not bad as well.

      1. Corned beef (full fat of course).

        1. The corned beef is quite good. But why on earth not get pastrami?

          1. If you want to make sure he gets something good, make him get pastrami. Why wouldn't he?

            If that fails, the knoblewurst is great too.

              1. re: thew

                I am cursed with a non-foodie spouse, alas, who once observed me eating pastrami at Harold's in Edison NJ and was like "ew, what's THAT? What's that black stuff on it? And there's FAT!" You see what I'm up against.

                1. re: MandalayVA

                  gosh mandalay you must really love this person, good on ya

              2. We go fairly often for out-of-towners and so therefore don't always get the pastrami.

                As others said, the Knobelwurst is a must-have. We're also quite fond of their chopped liver (which I believe contains a bit of beef liver, as well as chicken). Pea soup, if they have it, is good (not a fan of their chicken soup).

                The Brisket is just buttery, fatty and delightful. I opt for that instead of the pastrami about every fourth visit. I dig salami and raw onion, too.

                15 Replies
                1. re: shaogo

                  There is no beef liver in their chopped liver. That would be sacreligious

                  1. re: Diane Dee

                    Beg to differ. My mother's chopped liver (recipe handed down from her Bessarabian mother) was always made from beef liver - and not calve's liver, steer liver. We still make it that way, and it's still terrific.

                    1. re: Striver

                      Nevertheless, traditional Ashkenazi Jewish chopped liver is chicken liver.

                      1. re: gutsofsteel

                        Have you got a definitive source for this flat out assertion?

                        Wiki's not the best, but their entry on chopped liver simply says : "the liver used is generally calf, beef or chicken." And per Shaogo's post, it's worht noting that Arthur Schwartz, in his Yiddish Recipe book, uses both chicken and beef liver in his "tradtional" version.

                        Maybe it's a glitz vs. litvak question?

                        1. re: gutsofsteel

                          Original 2nd Ave. used to use strictly beef liver, did't they? It's obviously a matter of preference.

                    2. re: shaogo

                      I'm salting a crow and preparing a buttered roll (and some Katz's mustard).

                      I called Katz's. They told me just now it's all chicken liver, that there's never been any beef liver.

                      In my defense, the elderly Bubbe of one of my Ashkenazi friends adds calves' liver to her chopped liver.

                      1. re: shaogo

                        Which was my point upthread.

                        Yes, there's a general prefernce for chicken liver (certainly here in the USA) - but there are traditional recipes from various parts of eastern europe and Russia that use calves liver and/or steer liver, sometimes alone and sometimes mixed with chicken liver. Maybe it's a village-to-village thing - who knows - but there's no halachic law specifying that ONLY chicken liver may be chopped and eaten.

                        Gads, these "authenticity" arguments are too much! :)

                        1. re: Striver

                          "Gads, these "authenticity" arguments are too much! :)"

                          Is there a way to bring chopsticks into it? That's always entertaining.

                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                            I love you, Mr. Martinez!

                            The chopsticks come into play at Katz's when someone orders a pastrami sandwich with mayonnaise. The carvers stab the offending customer in the eyes with the 'sticks.

                            1. re: shaogo

                              My bubbe from Belarus always ate pastrami with mayonnaise. :-)

                              1. re: gutsofsteel

                                That's just amazing!

                                I think I've seen a beet salad from Belarus that I thought was remarkable because it was bound with mayonnaise. (I happen to *love* mayonnaise). My email's on my profile... could you perhaps send a link to some of these other Eastern European combinations. I find them quite fascinating (and mouth-watering).

                                1. re: shaogo

                                  I was joking. My bubbe would roll over in her grave at the thought of pastrami with mayonnaise. And she wasn't from Belarus, either.

                                  1. re: shaogo

                                    Sounds like a variation on a "russian salad" or "salade russe".

                                    1. re: shaogo

                                      Beet salad from Belarus would most likely be "bound" with yoghurt. I don't think the Hellmans made it to Belarus.

                                      1. re: Motosport

                                        Do check out "Russian salads ", you'll find they're basically cooked vegetables (potatoes, peas, beets, etc.) and meat bound with mayonnaise, date back to the mid-19th century, and became very popular in Russian communities as well as anyplace Russians have been and/or colonized. No surprise to find variations in places like Belarus or Ukraine.

                        2. Corned beef, hot dogs, pickles. I like the fries if they're hot.
                          Don't forget the Dr. Brown's!

                          Of course you could get the pastrami (unless the n00b is your pastrami-hating spouse... I'm not clear on this)

                          Edited to add +1 on the salami... the hard kind is better, nice and peppery.

                          1. When I don't get pastrami I get corned beef with Russian dressing on a club roll with some coleslaw on top. The franks are good as well.

                            1. We keep it simple. Pastrami or corned beef sammiches. Hot dogs if we are getting take out to eat in the car. Pastrami or corned beef is just too messy and mustard stains are tough to get out. Every once in a while my lovely wife gets a pastrami or corned beef reuben sammich. We mix and match halves.

                                1. Nothing wrong with getting Corned Beef instead of Pastrami now and then. You gotta mix it up.