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Katz's

205 E. Houston, New York, NY - (212) 254-2246
Posted By Michael Stern on 12/11/2012 7:20:00 AM
Steamy hot, moist and tender, perfumed by spice and smoke, pastrami is the most voluptuous of delicatessen meats. Tasty examples can be found in almost any American city with a population of Romanian-ancestored Jews; but for the very best, for pastrami to make you plotz with pleasure, there is only one place to go: Katz’s in New York. The granddaddy of Pastrami Palaces – since 1888 – Katz’s boasts a sign outside that advertises Wurst Fabric (an Americanization of a Yiddish term for “homemade sausage”) and one inside that advises, Send a salami to your boy in the army.

Here is an only-in-New-York experience! Brash, big, and noisy, it is a course in customer assertiveness. Although table service is available, what makes Katz’s unique is a one-on-one encounter with a counterman. Take a ticket as you enter, approach the counter and tell one of the gents with a carving knife exactly what you want. (Hint: don’t ask for your pastrami on white bread with mayonnaise.) Motherly brisket, corned beef, turkey, knoblewurst (super garlicky salami), chopped liver, tongue, and cheese steaks are all available, as are first-rate Kosher hot dogs, but we can never resist that pastrami. A Katz’s pastrami sandwich is three-quarters of a pound of meat severed into pieces so chunky that the word slice seems too lightweight to describe them. Each brick-red, glistening hunk is rimmed black, redolent of garlic, smoke, and pickling spices, as savory as food can be.

One of Katz’s lesser-known pleasures is breakfast. The usual eggs, pancakes and French toast are available, but connoisseurs come for a Katz’s omelet, which is an unfolded, open-face circle of eggs in which nestle a heap of salami, corned beef, balogna, or pastrami.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Pastrami Sandwich
Egg Cream
Hot Dog
Half-Sour Pickles
Knoblewurst on Rye
Brisket Sandwich
Pastrami Reuben
Corned Beef Sandwich
French Fries
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Many delis now use machines to slice their deli meats. Not Katz's. Part of the fun of dining here is watching the meat sliced and the sandwich built. This picture shows a steaming pastrami.
"Many delis now use machines to slice their deli meats. Not Katz's. Part of the fun of dining here is watching the meat sliced and the sandwich built. This picture shows a steaming pastrami."
Michael Stern





My very first pastrami sandwich at Katz's and hopefully not my last!  This was meltingly tender and rich.
"My very first pastrami sandwich at Katz's and hopefully not my last! This was meltingly tender and rich."
Bill Homan


Unlike the dogs of Chicagoland, the finest New York dogs are best savored with minimal topping. A smear of brown mustard, maybe a little kraut, might be called for, but neither is necessary. While these two well-done dogs wear a line of mustard, sometimes we like to savor the dogs' flavor with no toppings at all.
"Unlike the dogs of Chicagoland, the finest New York dogs are best savored with minimal topping. A smear of brown mustard, maybe a little kraut, might be called for, but neither is necessary. While these two well-done dogs wear a line of mustard, sometimes we like to savor the dogs' flavor with no toppings at all."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Sections of knoblewurst are always ready on the grill, in various stages of doneness, so you can ask for it cooked the way you like: medium for maximum juiciness, well for maximum crustiness.  Note, in the upper right corner, the square knish.  Avoid these; go for the round knishes (not visible) which they get from Yonah Schimmel down the street.
"Sections of knoblewurst are always ready on the grill, in various stages of doneness, so you can ask for it cooked the way you like: medium for maximum juiciness, well for maximum crustiness. Note, in the upper right corner, the square knish. Avoid these; go for the round knishes (not visible) which they get from Yonah Schimmel down the street."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


A corned beef sandwich with nothing else on it, just rye bread and meat; does it really need anything else?
"A corned beef sandwich with nothing else on it, just rye bread and meat; does it really need anything else?"
Bill Homan


Our counterman did a great job on this corned beef sandwich and was happy to pose for a close-up.
"Our counterman did a great job on this corned beef sandwich and was happy to pose for a close-up."
Bill Homan


This is a well-cooked knoblewurst, served between slices of rye. Sauerkraut and deli mustard are good garnishes, but this is also great totally nude; just meat and bread.
"This is a well-cooked knoblewurst, served between slices of rye. Sauerkraut and deli mustard are good garnishes, but this is also great totally nude; just meat and bread."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


We didn't weigh it, but our guess is that this sandwich holds a half-pound of pastrami. Love those spicy blackened edges!
"We didn't weigh it, but our guess is that this sandwich holds a half-pound of pastrami. Love those spicy blackened edges!"
Michael Stern


The sweet Russian dressing, briny sauerkraut, gooey Swiss, and the rich, peppery pastrami made for one of the best pastrami Reuben sandwiches I have ever tasted.
"The sweet Russian dressing, briny sauerkraut, gooey Swiss, and the rich, peppery pastrami made for one of the best pastrami Reuben sandwiches I have ever tasted."
Bill Homan


Everyone who gets a sandwich is also given a plate of kosher pickles: half-sours and VERY sours. They go great with the meaty sandwiches.
"Everyone who gets a sandwich is also given a plate of kosher pickles: half-sours and VERY sours. They go great with the meaty sandwiches."
Michael Stern


Some people believe Katz's hot dogs are the best in the city. Here's a pair, one with stewed onions, the other with sauerkraut. Both, of course, are spread with mustard.
"Some people believe Katz's hot dogs are the best in the city. Here's a pair, one with stewed onions, the other with sauerkraut. Both, of course, are spread with mustard."
Michael Stern


Our guy held up his second creation, my pastrami with mustard on rye.  What a beauty.
"Our guy held up his second creation, my pastrami with mustard on rye. What a beauty."
Bill Homan


Katz's extra-thick french fries are creamy inside and crisp outside.
"Katz's extra-thick french fries are creamy inside and crisp outside."
Michael Stern


The sandwiches are hand sliced.  Behind the pastrami is a very beefy brisket sandwich.
"The sandwiches are hand sliced. Behind the pastrami is a very beefy brisket sandwich."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Here's the line of sandwich makers at work.
"Here's the line of sandwich makers at work."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


We'd call it an
"We'd call it an "eating hall": always boisterous"
Michael Stern


Agreed!
"Agreed!"
Bill Homan


You can always spot Katz's by the neon glow on Houston Street.
"You can always spot Katz's by the neon glow on Houston Street."
Sam Meyer


Easy to spot if you're walking along East Houston Street.
"Easy to spot if you're walking along East Houston Street."
Bill Homan


Over 100 years of making people happy.
"Over 100 years of making people happy."
Bill Homan


Before you even see these signs, you can smell the aroma of garlicky meat.
"Before you even see these signs, you can smell the aroma of garlicky meat."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle



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