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Oct 12, 2013 05:05 PM

Sunday evening deli, big menu: 2nd Avenue Deli or?

Sorry this is so long! I hope it makes sense!
My adult son and I are arriving late on Sunday afternoon Nov 3. We would really like a big deli-style meal, possibly from 2nd Avenue Deli, on our first night in the city. We plan to go to Katz's, Russ and Daughters, and Pickle Guys later in the week, so we don't want pastrami, sandwiches, lox, etc. on Sunday. Instead, we're thinking of ordering a bunch of small plates (esp. little crispy things), snacks, soup, breads, etc. at 2nd Avenue. Is one of their locations better than the other? We're staying in Midtown (53rd St. and 6th Avenue.)
I've read some really off-putting reviews of Carnegie Deli, so I am reluctant to go there, even though it's much closer to our hotel.
Since we'll be taking a taxi, it doesn't matter too much where we go as long as it isn't somewhere we could get stranded with no cab later on. Still, I'd rather not get too far out of Midtown that first night.
I have considered trying to make it to Russ and Daughters before it closes at 5:30 Sunday, then go to Katz's, but, since we'll be going there specifically to get fllled up on smoked fish and huge sandwiches (even a half is big), we wouldn't have the appetite for all the little go-alongs on their menus.
On the other hand, I wonder if Katz's might actually be less crowded on a Sunday night than on a weekday during lunch (?).
Katz's is pretty far to go by taxi, right? If we still need a knish-fix later that week, we might be pretty close to Zabar and Barney Greengrass on whatever day we go to the Museum of Natural History, but we might have to do breakfast at either of those places then.
Sunday is the only night we have completely open for dinner because we have reservations (Jungsik, Babbo, Le Bernardin) the other nights, except on Tuesday when we have Broadway tickets..
We'll probably be hungry again after the play on Tuesday. (We are eating an early-but drawn out-lunch and shopping at Chelsea Market that day after a 9/11 Memorial tour in the morning.)
My daughter and I ate at Junior's in Times Square after a show last summer. It was a total zoo at close to midnight, so I'm pretty sure I want to avoid that! (Plus, I have a whole Junior's cheesecake in my freezer.)
I'm considering trekking out to Veselka after the play. It has many of the kinds of dishes we want (but not all), and it stays open all night, so no rush to get there. Is it far to walk there from the nearest subway stop (at midnight)? Would that be a better destination and day than 2nd Ave.? It's too bad 2nd Avenue isn't open 24 hours! This will be Election Day. I don't know if I should factor in whether places might be more crowded than usual that late.
I've seen other "delis" mentioned on Chowhound. I'm leaning toward 2nd Avenue, mostly because of the variety of dishes on its menu. It is also casual and wouldn't require a reservation. It won't exactly be cheap, but if we pace ourselves and not order too much, it should be affordable.
I guess setting out at 5:00 and heading home 11:00 or later is a long evening, assuming our arrival in New York isn't delayed by weather or something. I'm open to ideas.
Thanks, Everybody! I really appreciate your opinions!

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  1. Russ & Daughters may run out of bagels and bialys by the end of the day Sunday, BTW.

    I wouldn't expect Katz's to be crowded at all during weekday lunch. Not a lot of offices nearby.

    Don't forget that Barney Greengrass is closed on Mondays.

    While I like Veselka, I don't think it's worth a special trip from Midtown.

    Too bad Sarge's hasn't reopened yet.

    Are you open to other cuisines post-theatre?

    7 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks, kathryn! I guess it wouldn't be wise to go to R&D and Katz's Sunday. We want to do Pure Thai and Empanada Mama sometime while we're up there, so maybe we should just scout out 9th Avenue that night. I like the Todd English Food Hall idea, too. I guess we could work in two small meals between 5:00 and late night, especially if we had some event to attend in between..
      I'm sorry Sarge's isn't open yet. Maybe I'll catch it next year if I bring my third child up there.
      Do you not like 2nd Avenue?

      I stumbled across St. Andrews on Open Table last night. It is really close to the theater! They have house-made haggis which is something I've always wanted to try (I think...), and rare single-malt Scotch whiskeys (I'm a fan). I went ahead and made a reservation. I've read reviews saying it's pretty good--maybe not a foodie destination, but perfect for Scotiaphiles like my son and me!

      I guess I've scratched Veselka altogether.

      1. re: jilkat25

        I do like 2nd Ave a lot, especially their matzoh balls (they're the fluffy kind) and their chicken in a pot (chicken soup).

        If you like scotch, check out also the selection at Keens.

        1. re: kathryn

          Keens is on my bar list. I'll definitely check it out! What I'm really into right now are cocktails,really exotic cold ones!
          Soup at 2nd Avenue is a must-do. I have this feeling it's going to be cold and rainy that week. After the 105+ weather up there last July, rain in November will feel blissful! At least I can get some cool pictures of NYC in the rain! Any kind of soup sounds good! I hope to find a good bouillabaise, cioppino, or the like, too (not at a deli). I wrote down the name of some place based on CH recs. I'll try to find it later..

          1. re: jilkat25

            Lots of great cocktail bars in NYC but they are not really located near your hotel.

            However, very close to 2nd Ave Deli on 33rd is Middle Branch.

            For bouillabaisse, I usually hit up Pearl Oyster Bar.

            Before or after Jungsik, consider a drink at The Butterfly (fun takes on classics), Brandy Library (huge spirits list), or Weather Up.

            Before Babbo, have a drink at Pegu Club.

            Pre or post theatre, try to make a reservation at Lantern's Keep. It's a small place so make a reservation. They do "bartender's choice" very well. Closed Sundays.

            If you really are into cocktails, is try to plan at least one night in the East Village for Pouring Ribbons, Death & Co, Mayahuel, Booker & Dax, Amor y Amargo, etc.

            1. re: jilkat25

              For cocktails try:
              Lantern's Keep not too far from your hotel.
              Or Middle Branch in Murray Hill

          2. re: jilkat25

            St Andrews is the only Scottish restaurant in NYC.
            2 nd ave deli is actually very good depending on what you are looking for. Katz's has more ambience and Katz's and Pastrami Queen have marginally better pastrami. Better knish's at PQ.
            That being said 2nd Av is nice. Clean, great service etc.. It's the kind of place you would bring your grandma for lunch.
            Katz's on the other hand is a "zoo" and I mean that in the nicest way. PQ is small and subdued.
            It all depends on what you are looking for.

            1. re: Motosport

              Well, Katz's will be the standard order- (fat end) pastrami sandwiches, pickles, a knish, root beer.
              I smoke my own pastrami in my backyard. Super easy and delicious!
              You know Texas smoked brisket and NY pastrami are first cousins. All those great BBQ houses around Austin/Lockhardt/Fredericksburg were originated by Germans and Jews who brought their meat-smoking skills to Central Texas, then adapted the flavor profile (coriander and black pepper) of pastrami) to the chiles and woods (post oak, hickory, mesquite, pecan) they found Texas. Trivia...

        2. Oy vey! So many questions!
          Skip Carnegie!!!!!
          After R&D you won't have much of an appetite for Katz's where you should get an amazing pastrami or corned beef on rye sammich which is big enough for two. Even when Katz's looks busy the line moves quickly. Order at the counter and skip the table service if you want the true NYC experience.
          Keep in mind that R&D does not have tables. Might be better to take some smoked treasures back to your hotel or home.
          Junior's in Brooklyn is only moments away from Manhattan by subway. It's the original and worth a trip.
          2nd Ave Deli is very good. I have only been to the 33rd St location. Personally, I like Sarge's better but they have not reopened since the fire last year.
          Another suggestion is Pastrami Queen on Lex in the 70's. Amazing sammiches and knishes.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Motosport

            crap, i was going to suggest Sarge's as well, but did not know if they were open again. ( they became my go-to the day i got pastrami at 3:50 am that was cheaper and oh! so close to great and no tourists, that i was totally sold)

            1. re: hyde

              Yes, from photos on Eater, it looks like they have quite a bit more work to do in order to reopen:

              1. re: hyde

                I ate there just after Thanksgiving last year. They had a fire a few days later. I live in the hood and miss sharing my 3 AM pastrami sammich with my sweetie!!!!!!!!!!!
                Work is progressing and they hope to be open by the end of the year!!

              2. re: Motosport

                I know, Motosport, I ask too many questions. It's so hard for me to narrow down my New York wish list to fit into 5 days!
                There was never any question that I would avoid Carnegie Deli. If I lived in NY I'd probably try it one day (I've known about it since I was kid) but I will skip it for now, even though it's like a block from our hotel.
                We are going to Katz's no matter what, probably Weds. or Thurs. I was there last year and although it was jammed, it didn't take long to order and eat. I missed R&D then, so I'm hoping we get there, too. I'm bringing a small cooler-bag (looks like a purse) so we might take some "smoked treasures" back to the hotel for later!
                We wouldn't order pastrami or any kind of 2nd Avenue, although I would like to try their house-made hot-dog. (Sabrett, Hebrew National, and Nathan's hot-dogs are available here.) But, there are some things on the menu at 2nd Ave.that I have never tried-that simply don't appear on many menus down here: ptcha?.

                I ate at Junior's in Times Square last year. I have a whole Junior's cheesecake in my freezer right now, too. If we make it to Brooklyn, it would be to go to Juliana's (in fact, we might make a special trip there for it.) I guess if we were near Junior's and were craving cheesecake, we might pop in but I'd rather save room in my tummy for other stuff. If I ever move to New York, I think I will live in Brooklyn.
                I'm really sad we won't be there any on a day when Smorgasburg is open (again)! Maybe next year.

                1. re: jilkat25

                  The pastrami at 2ND is good but not hand cut. It makes a difference. At Katz's it's hand cut, ask for fatty not lean. At PQ you have to request hand cut and fatty.
                  Now that Sarge's is closed we might go to 2nd since it's close by. We get one pastrami and one corned beef sammich and switch it up. Everyone is happy. No egg creams as they are kosher.
                  We had a Junior's strawberry cheese pie for our wedding cake. Been going there since the 50's.

                  1. re: jilkat25

                    FYI 2nd ave deli is also well known for their chopped liver if that appeals

                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      I used to eat liverwurst pretty often. I'd like to try chopped liver!