Katz’s Pastrami – In a Class of its Own

Sometimes you want to get a bunch of dishes to try everything at a restaurant. Sometimes you want to get a tasting menu so the chef can show off his/her technique. And sometimes, you go to a place where there is really just one thing to order, and to add too many supplements to it would just be slapping a masterpiece in the face. 
Katz’s is that place.
Made popular to the masses by When Harry Met Sally to New Yorkers by their grandparents, Katz’s Delicatessen is an institution. Operated since 1888, this Jewish-style deli is open 24 hours a day on the weekend, operates via a ticket system (take a ticket when you come in and order at counters, then pay at the end), and is so casual you could come in wearing pajamas and nobody would bat an eye. Katz’s serves deli staples like omelettes, grilled cheese, and fries, and for all I know, those things are great! I wouldn’t know because I haven’t ever ordered them. 
Because I have respect for places of worship.
I mean Katz’s. 
Is there a difference?
Stuffed Derma (a.k.a. Kishke)
Ignore the naysayers – this isn’t made with intestines like in the old days. This is just stuffing made the fatty, garlicky, Jewish way. Matzo meal, herbs and spices, mixed together into a highly spiced, savory, carby indulgence. And schmaltz. Plenty of glistening, orange tinged schmaltz gives the kishke a luxurious mouthfeel – velvety, smooth, and thick. It really is the world’s best stuffing. Dipped in plenty of thick chicken gravy, it wants for nothing. 
Dill and New Pickles
The dill pickles are crunchy and sour, but the new pickles are the really special thing. Firm and cold, they burst in the mouth with a vegetal, clean flavor, more like a cucumber than a pickle. It just has a vague hint of brine – a perfect accompaniment to the main attraction. 
 Pastrami on Rye with Extra Mustard
When you order this at the counter, the man slicing it will give you a few pieces on a plate. No need to ask for the sample – it will just be there. The first bite you take of the pastrami, steam rising off of it, pepper and grease clinging to your fingers, is the best. That first taste is of pepper and garlic. The hearty flavor of the beef. The texture – it really chews like steak. 
Placed between slices of soft, fragrant rye bread and liberally sauced with spicy mustard, it hits many points on the palate: spicy, meaty, aromatic, and salty. I mean, it really is salty – it doesn’t taste salty at the time, but you will be gulping water all night. 
It will be worth it. 
Katz’s is stupidly expensive  -this meal cost about $30. The place can be crowded, the atmosphere is more brusque than romantic, and absolutely everything here will give you heartburn. 
And blocked arteries. 
And joy. 
No tasting menu in the world can compete.
Katz's Deli on Urbanspoon


  1. Is there any food with a bigger discrepancy between being done poorly and done perfectly than a pastrami sandwich? Bad pastrami is inedible, fatty, rubbery junk. Pastrami like this is as good as anything you will ever eat, in my opinion.

  2. God, I love Katz's.


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