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Jan 14, 2014 11:50 AM

Carnegie or Katz's, and why?


Mr Taster

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  1. It has been discussed many times on CH.
    Bottom line is:
    Katz's is an amazing old school NYC experience with fabulous pastrami and corned beef sammiches!!
    Carnagie, although not bad, is part of the Times Square tourist trap.
    My Manhattan pastrami list is as follows:
    Pastrami Queen, a close second
    Sarge's, tied for second
    2nd Ave Deli

    13 Replies
    1. re: Motosport

      I'm asking because of a post on another board in which a poster asserted that many NYC locals eat at Carnegie.

      My feeling is that while some do, the mile high sandwiches are more of a schtick meant to draw in Midwestern tourists whose palates have been reared on Schlotzky's deli as the defacto standard, and by comparison would find Carnegie's pastrami better than anything they've ever tasted before.

      Consider this is an informal poll.

      Mr Taster

      1. re: Mr Taster

        Schlotzky's?? Are they coming to Manhattan??? LOL!!
        I.M.H.O. I prefer Katz's hand cut pastrami and corned beef to the "mile high" machine cut at Carnegie.

        1. re: Motosport

          Carnegie machine sliced vs. Katz's hand cut is an extremely important distinction between the two.

          Mr Taster

          1. re: Motosport

            May I ask what the deal is with the "hand cut" thing? Why do you prefer it?

            1. re: gavspen

              Hand cut has thicker juicier slices. I.M.H.O.
              Katz's is all hand cut.
              Sarge's and Pastrami Queen will hand cut on request.
              John Brown's Smokehouse is all hand cut.
              Carnegie and 2nd Ave is all machine cut.

              1. re: gavspen

                I think it's mostly voodoo as far as taste goes.

                Sure, thin cut meats have a different mouthfeel than thicker hand cut slices but thicker isn't automatically better. Nobody asks for a thick cut ham sandwich. The same for roast beef.

                Brisket and pastrami are different. Cut too thin they tend to disintegrate and they're tender enough so that thicker slices don't get overly chewy.

                That said, a machine slicer can cut thicker slices too and they're just fine. Exhibit A - the pastrami from David's Brisket House in Bed Stuy and Bay Ridge. Which, BTW, is terrific.


                1. re: gavspen

                  Here we go again-the hand vs. machine cut battle. I do sense the slightest of differences with a nod to hand cut, and if i HAD to explain it I would attribute it to the fact that a slower, more irregular hand cut exposes more meat/fat surface to the tongue. But I'm not a gastro-physicist.

                  1. re: addictedtolunch

                    It seems to me that hand cut doesn't do tougher or unevenly cooked meat any favors, and a machine slice can hide some defects, irregularities in the cooking.

                    Hand cutting is also what you would do at home, so there's less of a processed feel to it, whereas machine cutting can turn a nice meat into a Boar's Head replica.

                    In a sandwich, it shouldn't make or break anything.

              2. re: Mr Taster

                NYC locals go to Carnegie because it is in Midtown and a viable lunch for lawyers, bankers, etc.

                You eat that stuff for 25 years and it ends up being what gets ordered for your retirement party (after your 2nd heart attack).

              3. re: Motosport

                For what it's worth, here's a post you were involved in back in 2010.


                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  That topic is still alive today!! Are you the CH archivist??

                2. re: Motosport

                  Carnegie Deli is at 55th and 7th Ave. Near CARNEGIE HALL. It may be a tourist joint but it is NOT near Times Square. I have been eating at Carnegie Deli on/off for several decades and I'm not a tourist.

                  And yes, this has been discussed thoroughly and often.

                  1. re: Motosport

                    BTW, Carnegie has been around since 1937. That's pretty old-school NY, too. When I was a kid, we went mostly to Carnegie Deli because the LES in the 1970s was run-down and dirty and my mother had this thing about dirty. Plus for the theater, Carnegie was more convenient. In the past 20 years or so, I've been going mostly to Katz's or Second Ave.

                  2. For me, Carnegie is better than Katz.


                    - juicier pastrami
                    - bigger sandwiches
                    - fewer tourists
                    - nicer service
                    - better location

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic

                      There is a reason Carnegie has been around since 1937.
                      Then again Katz's 1888.
                      Juicier Pastrami, just ask the counterman for fatty not lean.
                      Bigger, Katz's sammich will easily feed two
                      Tourists? It's Manhattan. They are everywhere.
                      Nicer service? The Katz's counterman experience is pure theater. You want "nice", stay in Omaha!
                      Better location? Carnegie is close to the M&M store!! On the other hand Katz's is on the historic LES and probably still has some of the original sawdust on the floor!!! Can anything in Manhattan compare to the ambience of Katz's?

                      1. re: Motosport

                        "Can anything in Manhattan compare to the ambience of Katz's?"


                      2. Don't like Carnegie at all. It's not very good or authentic. Agree that it's for tourists.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: wincountrygirl

                          I love Katz's but it, too, is full of tourists. The sandwiches at Carnegie are good but not great and I do not like the huge amount of food that arrives on the plate. Katz's sandwiches are ample.

                          1. re: Just Visiting

                            It is full of tourists, but that hand cut brisket......... the stuff of dreams!

                            1. re: wincountrygirl

                              As above, Katz's is also full of tourists. But both also serve plenty of locals. That people who don't have the beaucoup bucks needed to live in NYC enjoy eating there doesn't mean that it isn't authentic.

                          2. I can get a salami at Katz's, and take it on a hike.

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: Motosport

                                Hilarious. I wonder how many people will get that reference?

                            1. I avoid the area near carnegie like the plague. With out of town visitors we go to Katz. With local friends and own of towners who have been to katz its 2nd ave deli.