Without a doubt, Katz’s Deli (@) is one of the most iconic restaurants in New York. Sure, it’s an incredibly touristy spot and the prices reflect that, but they serve some of the best pastrami I’ve ever had.
Located in the lower east side, this deli was founded in 1888 with the name “Iceland Brothers”. It subsequently became Katz’s in 1910.
A few years ago, I came to Katz’s on a Sunday around lunch time and there was a huge line out the door and around the corner. It was pure chaos inside – gotta be aggressive when ordering! This time around, we dropped by for dinner and walked right in. It was much less chaotic!
Upon entering the deli, you’ll be given a ticket. Whatever you do, don’t lose it. Otherwise it’ll cost you $50. When you order at the counter, they’ll write your order on the ticket and you pay on the way out. Even if you don’t have anything on your ticket, you’ll need to return it on your way out.
Katz’s occupies an enormous space which looks like it’s had minimal renovations done to it – that’s just part of its charm. Down one wall of the space, you’ll find an endless number of framed pictures of famous folks who have visited the deli. The seats down this wall are reserved for waiter-service only. If you’re ordering from the counter, you’ll have to find another seat.
On the menu, you’ll find the usual dishes you’d find at a Jewish deli (pastrami, corned beef, brisket, chopped liver, knishes… you get the idea). If it’s your first time here, I highly recommend ordering a Pastrami Sandwich ($19.75). They’ll even give you a little sample at the deli counter which will just reinforce your decision to get one of these sandwiches.
The thick and tender slices of hand-carved pastrami are sandwiched between rye bread and served with pickles (half and full sours). The meat is moist and smoky with the perfect amount of marbling. Absolute perfection!
Most of the sandwiches are around the $20 mark, so yes, incredibly pricey for a sandwich. But well worth the money to try some of the best pastrami around.
For our other sandwich, we decided to go with the Reuben ($20.25). It comes with corned beef but for an extra dollar, you can change it to pastrami (and you bet that’s what I did!). It’s essentially a pastrami sandwich with the addition of swiss cheese, Russian dressing and sauerkraut. SO delicious!
Yes, it’s expensive and yes, it can be incredibly chaotic and touristy but their pastrami is second to none. A trip to NYC just isn’t complete without a trip to Katz’s Deli!
At a glance:
- A New York institution located in the Lower East Side
- Touristy and pricey (most sandwiches are around $20) but they serve some of the best pastrami I’ve ever had
- Peak hours can be very chaotic with lines out the door
- They’ll give you a ticket when you enter… don’t lose it. It’s literally your ticket out!
Ratings (out of 5):
- Food: 4.5 stars
- Service: 2 stars
- Atmosphere: 2 stars