NYC’s Katz’s Deli
This famous deli located on the Lower East Side had eluded me the last couple times I was in New York City. Each time I had tried to get there, either the location or other commitments got in the way. But not this time…. I was determined to sample their Reuben sandwich even if I had to make it my breakfast.
I heard about Katz’s from a foodie friend who put it near the top of the list of must-hit spots in NYC. With another layover in NYC, this time just four hours on a Tuesday morning, I decided Katz’s was the place I wanted to eat. And lucky for me they open at 8am ready to serve anything on the menu.
The place has a reputation for being both the oldest and the best deli in the Big Apple. And it’s the location of the famous fake orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally. There’s even a round sign hanging over that particular table that reads “Where Harry Met Sally…hope you have what she had”.
Well it’s hard to say what Meg Ryan was eating in the movie, but I can definitely suggest that you “have what I had”!! My friend had recommended the Reuben and since it’s my favorite sandwich, I didn’t even think twice. That was until the counter guy asked if I wanted corned beef or pastrami. Tough decision but in that moment I did what I always do for assistance in ordering – I asked the expert…the county guy.
The Pastrami was an outstanding decision. Super tender, warm and juicy – the meat was outta this world! And according to the pride they take in the preparation (some meats are cured up to 30 days) and the boatloads they sell, it should be. According to Wikipedia, each week Katz’s serves 10,000 pounds of pastrami and 5,0000 pounds of corned beef. Now that’s a lot of meat…even considering my one sandwich had nearly a pound of meat piled inside.
Despite my Reuben not looking like a the kind you normally get – marbled rye bread, neat, buttery and toasted – this stack of kosher-style goodness turned out to be one of my favorite sandwiches of all time. Between two slices of plain bread, the load of pastrami was stacked under a heaping helping of sauerkraut and melted cheese. There was a chunky, homemade Thousand Island smeared on the bread and just enough, not too much, cheese.
The monster meal was hard to hold together and I had bits of kraut and chunks of pastrami falling to my plate with each subsequent bite. But the mess was part of the experience and I didn’t want any of those fallen flavors to go to waste!
The next best plate at Katz’s was the Latke’s. These golden, thick and delicious potato cakes were both crispy outside and creamy and warm within. They came with a side of sour cream for dipping and would feed an entire table. If you’re looking for some fantastically fried goodness to help cure a hangover after a big night out in NYC, this is it.
We also tried the chili and a knish. Both pretty interesting dishes, but not really what I was hoping for. The chili was full of meat and blended pretty smooth, but it had so much spice I could barely stand the kick. I chose a Kasha Knish that was made with potato, broccoli and spinach. It was an interesting dish, but a little on the boring side.
Despite the oddity of a Reuben and latkes mid-morning, I wasn’t about to let this meal pass without having the full Katz’s experience. For me that meant sampling the namesake beer. Yes, Katz’s even has its own beer on tap – a nice medium bodied ale that paired nicely with my sandwich. I would definitely drink it again. Hopefully at more appropriate hour next time.
There was so much more I wanted to sample. But my tummy was full and our plane on time.
I can see why Katz’s has survived for more than 120 years and has earned such an honorable a reputation. There’s not doubt the long hall of a dining room that was empty the morning we dined would be filled to brim on a regular basis. So put it on your list for your next trip to NYC and come with an appetite.