Katz’s

Review by: Jane & Michael Stern

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, 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; connoisseurs come for a Katz’s omelet, which is an unfolded, open-face circle of eggs in which nestles a heap of salami, corned beef, bologna, or pastrami.

Directions & Hours

8am - 10:45pm
  • Monday: 8:00 AM – 10:45 PM
  • Tuesday: 8:00 AM – 10:45 PM
  • Wednesday: 8:00 AM – 10:45 PM
  • Thursday: 8:00 AM – 10:45 PM
  • Friday: 8:00 AM – 10:45 PM
  • Saturday: 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Sunday: 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM

What To Eat

Pastrami Sandwich

DISH
Hot Dog

DISH
Brisket Sandwich

DISH
Knoblewurst on Rye

DISH
Corned Beef Sandwich

DISH
Pastrami Reuben

DISH
Salami Sandwich

DISH
Side of Brown Gravy

DISH

Katz’s Recipes

Discuss

What do you think of Katz’s?

5 Responses to “Katz’s”

ZoetMB

June 19th, 2021

The pastrami is terrific, but this is a very heavy meal and you will feel bloated after. When they hand carve the meat at the counter for your sandwich, they will put a few slices on a plate for you to sample. (Be sure to place a tip in the tip jar.) That alone is almost a meal in itself and is as much meat as many other “ordinary” places give you in a sandwich.

They will also load you up with a ton of pickles.

It has gotten expensive. At last check, a sandwich was around $25. If you don’t have a big appetite, consider sharing.

Reply

Bill Homan

March 6th, 2016

I’ve been living in New York City for almost 13 years and Katz’s Delicatessen is one of my most favorite places to eat. My first visit was in 2008, when I hosted a small group of Roadfooders for a hot dog tour. About a year later, fellow Roadfooder, The Travelin’ Man, was dismayed to find out that I had yet to try a pastrami sandwich from Katz’s and I was fortunate enough to have he and RFer, Wanderingjew as my wingmen for that trip into uncharted territory. I never knew pastrami could be so rich and full-flavored. I was hooked.

Many years and numerous sandwiches later, I still find myself craving a pastrami on rye with mustard. While I do enjoy some of the other delis in the Big Apple, they lack those thick cuts of brisket, corned beef and pastrami and Katz’s also has the added bonus of customers being able to stand at the counter and engage with the guy doing the slicing and making the sandwiches. Tip him a $1 or $2 and ask for a taste of whatever meat you want to try. I’ve never been particularly wowed with their corned beef, so I’m glad I can sample it first.

On a visit with a friend from my hometown, we tried the pastrami reuben and it was just perfect. They don’t grill the bread but this was a perfect combination of peppery, steamy pastrami, briny sauerkraut, melty Swiss and sweet, pickly Russian dressing. A joyous mess to eat and a multi-napkin affair, for sure.

On a more recent visit, The Travelin’ Man clued me in to the brisket on a club roll (with a side of brown gravy). I had never heard of a club roll before but it was so pillowy soft and fresh, the brisket was incredibly tender and that gravy, spooned on each bite, was just wonderful.

Katz’s has been around for over 125 years and while I love the food, it’s about so much more than that. It’s about the communal dining experience of being crammed in so close to other diners, the ticket system they use, the clinking of glasses and china as the waiters and bussers come around, the seemingly endless array of photos on the walls of the famous and not-so famous who have passed, chowed down here over the many decades and the element of surprise from “The Jim Gaffigan Show” taping there regularly to an improve group re-enacting (en masse) the famous “scene” from “When Harry Met Sally”. Just try to imagine 20 couples playing that out all at once!

I hope they are around for another 125 years.

Reply

Dean Voeks

January 11th, 2013

Visited Katz’s 1/8/13. Definitely had an aged look, comfortable, proven and authentic. No go for show here. Just good food except for the knish (inedible). It’s almost as if they wanted to put out something lousy to prove they could and it wouldn’t hurt their reputation. The pastrami sandwich was incredible, tender with tons of flavor. The matzo ball soup was as advertised: unbelievably light, very good. Pickles were great, especially the tomato.

Reply

Jim Dudlicek

August 13th, 2012

Made my first trip to Katz’s and I was not disappointed. The pastrami lived up to its legendary status — just perfect. And those sour pickles are absolutely psychedelic. Luckily, my job is requiring me to travel to New York more often these days, so I see many more visits to Katz’s in my future.

Reply

Jack Ziegler

January 17th, 2011

I went to Katz’s for lunch for the first time about 30 years ago. I’d just been transferred to New York from Baltimore. I ordered a corned beef on rye, and a kosher hot dog with fried bologna. The counterman looked at me and said, “You can’t have that.” I said, “Excuse me?” He said, “I said you can’t have that.” I asked “Why?” Again he said, “Because you can’t have it.” So I took my corned beef sandwich and kosher hot dog without bologna to my table and ate it.

The corned beef was wonderful; it was the best corned beef sandwich I had ever eaten. The kosher hot dog was OK, but I missed the fried bologna I used to get at Jack’s on Corned Beef Row in Baltimore. Later, my boss, who was also from Baltimore, explained that it was because of a Jewish dietary law about not mixing meats. At other kosher delis in the New York area I’ve found the same restrictions.

I haven’t been to Baltimore in a few years, and I understand Jack’s has closed, but I’m still yearning for a kosher dog with fried bologna.

Reply

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