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Sarge's beats out Katz's

I must say that I have been to Katz a few times and Sarge's just once. Last night I ate Sarge's at around 2AM. The place was basically empty, with only one other patron, which I thought was great. We were seated and presented with water, coleslaw and sour/half sour pickles.

I ordered a bacon Burger which was really one of the best I have ever had in Manhattan. Very fresh meat and fresh cut fries.

Though the pastrami is what really matters. We also got a Robin, which is like a Reuben, but with Pastrami. I must say the pastrami was incredibly tender and flavorful, but was just lean enough. Was not to fatty as to make it disgusting, but had just enough fat to make it taste amazing. My last few trips to Katz, were disappointments, Not only are the prices insane, but the crowd's and fatty cuts of meat, make Kat'z less desirable.

The Robin at Sarge's was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had, let alone at 2AM on a Monday morning. The pastrami was also incredibly delicious and I must say perfect. The price and service were also respectable.

Sarge's is my new spot for late night eats in Manhattan.

Sarge's Delicatessen
548 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

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  1. Sarge's is my favorite deli (strongly prefer it to Katz's and Second Ave. Deli). I'm heading back to Sarge's for my pastrami "fix" on Saturday. It's one of the few restaurants that I miss from my old Murray Hill/Kips Bay neighborhood. I also love Sarge's chopped liver and noodle pudding. (Wow! I guess I've just planned my entire dinner!).

    4 Replies
    1. re: ellenost

      Sarge's is great in a pinch and is well worth hitting if you're in the area..its a great old school deli without trying to be an old school deli...but while the Pastrami is good..its really not all that special..you get a good solid Pastrami sandwich there but nothing more..which isnt really a knock on the place..it is what it is..and Im glad for it...its too bad there arent more places left like Sarges

      1. re: ChooseYrPoison

        Imo, Sarge's pastrami is consistently superb -- not just "a good solid...sandwich..but nothing more," and not just "great in a pinch."

        Pastrami at Sarge's: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

        I do agree that having more places like Sarge's, especially ones that would be open 24/7 and deliver, would be wonderful.

        1. re: RGR

          OMG! That is what a deli sandwich is supposed to look like! Folks in NYC don't have a clue just how good they have it compared to the rest of the world- I'm ready to book a flight just on that picture alone!

          1. re: Clarkafella

            When I went away to college, I bought a ham and cheese hero and it had 1 piece of cheese and 2 pieces of ham for $8. I laughed.

    2. Sarge's is great and gets a ++ for being open 24/7. Been there in the wee hours for pastrami and very early breakfast and it's always fabulous. I do prefer the pastrami at Katz's but they are both up there in the great category along with 2nd Ave.
      Vive la difference!!

      4 Replies
      1. re: Motosport

        Had a Sarge's pastrami sandwich (for the 1st time) yesterday. Sorry Katz's...you've been bypassed. After a lifetime of going to Katz's, and considering their pastrami the gold standard, my biz is going elsewhere. The shrinking sandwich size, lately the chewy, under-seasoned pastrami, tourist/mob scene of Katz's are now in my rear-view. Folks--it's really simple: I ordered my sandwich (plus noodle kugel, chopped liver app, cheese cake--all also great) online...in an hour--at my door, pastrami still hot & moist, down the hatch. Life is good.

        1. re: drumwine

          I love Sarge's, but Katz is still miles ahead in pastrami.

          I went back to Katz for the first time in awhile last weekend, and the pastrami was absolutely melting. Don't get me wrong though, $20 is a lot of money for a sandwich.

          That said, I would kill for a Sarge's double decker sandwich with turkey, pastrami, swiss cheese and cole slaw (and the souper soup) at 3AM. Also, I was at Katz on a Saturday morning around noon, and the line was nonexistent, in and out within 15 minutes.

          Both are waaay better than Mile End if you want to get into a chewy argument (although the smoked turkey is great). I did try David's Brisket House for the first time this week too-- best value anywhere ($5 sandwich that I could barely finish).

          1. re: ChiefHDB

            Try the Three Little Piggies pastrami sandwich, just remember to hold the coleslaw or get it on the side. Half the price of Katz's, and tell me if it isn't almost as good. I am constantly surprised by it.

            1. re: Wilfrid

              Can't find it. Do you mean "This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef" on First Ave?

              This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef
              149 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

      2. I don't understand complaining about Katz's pastrami being too fatty. Did you ask for it to be a bit lean if that's how you wanted it? I have to say, really lean pastrami at Katz's is too dry, but the alternative doesn't have to be disgustingly fatty.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Pan

          There is that kind of too fatty that ends up like looking more like stringy bacon when the fat falls apart off it. My unfortunate sandwich at Katz's was memorable for yanking a piece or two like that. I didn't specify fatty or not.

          1. re: sugartoof

            I have had one sandwich at Katz's that, though delicious, was really too fatty, but I did ask for "juicy." I'm surprised you got THAT fatty a sandwich without asking for one, and that is definitely legitimate to criticize, in my opinion.

        2. I've had great pastrami at Katz's and I've had horrible pastrami at Katz's. With Sarge's it's consistently good, plus I'll add my vote for the 24/7 thing. My husband is a thoroughly unadventurous eater not to mention somewhat of a bull in a china shop when it comes to ordering and I had fears that the staff at Katz's might not have too much patience with him, so this morning (we're on va-cay in the city) I took him to Sarge's. He adored the blintzes, and any time I can get pastrami and Sarge's fantastic fries for breakfast is a good time!

          1. I also think Sarge's is one of the top delis in NYC. Consistently under rated. Great matzoh ball soup and latkes too. Very good kugel.

            2 Replies
            1. re: comiendosiempre

              Whatever else Sarge is, it doesn't seem to be underrated here at Chowhound.

              1. re: Pan

                I think it's more a case of it finally sticking around long enough to gain a reputation after being overlooked for the better part of 2 decades. It Katz's and 2nd Ave. aren't what they used to be, Sarge's is an exciting new discovery or rediscovery for a lot of people.

            2. Great borscht at Sarges too.

              1. A few weeks ago, I had a really awesome hot tongue and chicken liver sandwich. The hot tongue was a nice contrast with the cool chicken liver. I think I preferred this over the pastrami.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Miss Needle

                  I love Sarge's (and they deliver to my office at lunch/dinner so I can eat it on my boss's dime)... but tongue and liver... yikes

                  1. re: msny98

                    Tongue and chopped liver....a classic and fabulous combination for a sandwich.

                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                      Yup. Quite delectable. The tongue/liver combo is not on the menu but did the custom-made sandwich option.

                2. I think I've resolved to give this place another chance. I found their meats a little oversalted the one time I've gone so far, though everything tasted real and I loved the hamishness.

                  1. The one thing that Sarge's and most other delis lack is hand carved pastrami. It really does makes a difference.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: porkpa

                      I've had the "hand carved" pastrami, and IMHO, it's extremely overrated.

                      1. re: ellenost

                        While I do appreciate hand-carved pastrami, and it is a different experience, hand-carving inferior pastrami doesn't turn it into good pastrami.

                        (This does NOT mean I think Katz's is inferior....I do not)

                    2. I have to agree that Sarge's is superior to Katz's in many ways, particularily the FOOD! Of course, the Katz's experience is unique and a must for anyone visiting New York. I've been disappointed in the quality of Katz's recently and wouldn't go there unless it was for a hot dog, which are still pretty good. But their pastrami is just OK. I really love a good hot corned beef sandwich, and Sarge's is absolutely the BEST in town. Katz's hot corned beef is, again, just OK.

                      1. I like Sarge's just as much as Katz's. Their fatty pastrami and tongue are delicious, juicy and melt in your mouth. The meat over cabbage platters are great, I love the way they prepare the cabbage. I think the chopped liver is better at Katz's though. I love the fact they are open 24 hrs.

                        1. brings back my memories of stopping off in the middle of the night when I was dating my wife (35 years ago) for fuel since I lived in eastern Queens while my spouse lived fifteen minutes west of the LIncoln Tunnel. The sandwich were great. every once and while order lunch since the office is near bye. still very good jewish style deli.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: martyl9

                            I love sarge's.
                            I consider he sarge's favorite (hot brisket served on a potato pancake with apple sauce and gravy) to be one of the great deli dishes ever invented (and a great hangover cure as well).

                            The sandwiches at sarge's are consistently good. Corned beef, pastrami, tongue, brisket-all good. The soups are good too. And they have everything-I now crave the kasha varnishkas-damn thee CH!

                            But there is something about the simplicity of the extra juicy pastrami on rye with mustard at Katz's that is a tad more satisfying. Not necessarily better, just different, and to me a bit more of a juicy savory bite that what sarge's serves. Yes Katz's is a pain to visit. Sarges's is not. Heck they deliver anyhere in Manhattan. I think that might skew some taste buds. And truly, send a pound of each to someone that cant get true NYC deli, and I think they would say they were both fantastic. Both are better than the reincarnated 2nd ave deli IMHO. Although the old place was as good as either. Oi vay.

                            1. re: AdamD

                              taste buds not skewed by delivery convenience.....going strictly by recent encounters with Katz's & Sarge's. Sarge's the winner....new champ (for me).

                          2. Over breakfast this morning my lovely wife and I were discussing this very issue.
                            Our conclusion: For a genuine NYC "experience" you can't beat the unique "ambience" of Katz's!!
                            The other hotly debated competitors, Sarge's, 2nd Ave, Carnegie etc.. all have good food but lack the odd and entertaining aspect of Katz's.
                            Sarge's is only 1 block from my apartment and is 24/7 a big plus but when my out of town friends want to experience a "bit of NYC" I take them to Katz's. I've been going there for 55 years and I.M.H.O. it still remains the same.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Motosport

                              The best part of Katz's is the countermen, and the fact that they do NOT use electric slicers! This has a direct effect on the taste of the meat!! There is just something unique about the flavor and texture of hand-sliced pastrami. The other thing is, that I don't want my pastrami too lean. Some of the supermarket-types have absolutely NO fat on the meat, and thus no flavor. I vote for Katz's!

                              1. re: menton1

                                and the character actor that hands you the "coupon" as you walk in and says "don't lose this even if you don't buy nuttin' "

                            2. I'm actually wondering if Sarge's has sold once again? Maybe just an off night?

                              I had a pastrami sandwich that seemed microwaved, and less than fresh.

                              The single latke at $3.75 didn't even resemble the giant discs they used to make...this was more like a greasy hockey puck, with it's only flavor coming from chunks of carrot. It tasted as if it had been defrosted more then once, and I didn't risk more then one bite.

                              1. I've come back on this thread to report that during the time I was away from Chowhound, we had an extremely disappointing experience with Sarge's pastrami. We ordered delivery -- something we have done many times -- and as always, I specified "very fatty." What they sent was pastrami that was as far from "very fatty" as you could possibly get, i.e., dry and totally tasteless! And to add insult to injury, the cole slaw was horribly dry as well.

                                I was so turned off that even though my husband has suggested since then that we go to Sarge's (at least, we'd be able to send the pastrami back if it wasn't juicy), I haven't been able to bring myself to do so as I can't face the possibility of being disappointed again.