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Will you rank delis for me?

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Already planning out a 2-day trip to the city (from D.C.) -- that's not happening until mid-December. But I gotta look forward to something...

My trip's missions: See a soon-to-open play starring my favorite actor; see my nephew who just landed a new job and apartment; eat a really good corned beef or pastrami sandwich (and pizza, but the nephew's got that covered).

Help me narrow the deli list!
My routine place in D.C. is OK for corned beef and potato knishes, but I want the good stuff.
2nd Avenue Deli is nearby his new apartment.
Carnegie, Katz's -- what else is out there in Manhattan that I should consider? (If there's a kosher one out there, a bonus, but not necessary.)

Here are the menu items that would be on my list -- where would you go for a "never disappoint" meal?

--Corned beef and/or pastrami on rye that is firm (wimpy rye is a problem in the D.C. area)
-- Round potato knishes (not spinach or sweet potato, really, cuz I'm a purist when it comes to deli meals).
-- Tasty half-sour pickles (the jarred Batampte pickles at the grocery here do not make my tastebuds dance anymore)
-- Perhaps kishka (if as I've read on the Yonah Shimmel thread a really great potato knish is just a daydream now)
(and the restaurant's gotta have dr. brown's ...)

[Also, I would get huge brownie points with the nephew's parents if I could get some excellent chocolate rugelah to ship out to them in the midwest.]

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  1. My favorite deli in NYC is Sarge's (Third Ave. between E. 36 & 37 Sts.). Love their pastrami! I don't like rye bread (prefer a roll), but when my dad was alive, he loved the rye at Sarge's. My mom is a big fan of their corned beef (I've tried it too, but I prefer pastrami to corned beef as a general rule). Sarge's also has round potato knishes and Dr. Brown's sodas. Every table receives yummy cole slaw and 1/2 and whole sour pickles.

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

    1. IMO and that of many Chowhounders, the pastrami at Katz's is better than 2nd Ave Deli's pastrami. For me, it's the best in the city.I don't know if this is a reason why- but 2nd Ave Deli's meat is kosher, while Katz's is not.

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

      Second Avenue Deli
      162 E 33rd St, New York, NY 10016