205 East Houston Street at Ludlow Street, Lower East Side, (212) 254-2246
Getting There: F,V to Lower East Side- Second Avenue
Restaurant Review: Katz's Deli
Unless you’ve been living in an underground subway tunnel for the last hundred or so years, you’ve heard about Katz’s Delicatessen, the legendary kosher-style eatery that aside from serving the best in cured meats since 1888, also served as the place where Harry did in fact meet Sally. While today Katz’s has become a niche stop along a tourist parade route, the quality of their sandwiches, hot dogs, and kinishes has never been better, and the eatery remains the go to restaurant for delicious deli food.
Outstanding looking hard salamis adorn the restaurant’s display windows, and after passing under the iconic New York City Signage overhead, patrons are handed numbered tickets at the door. Since there are so many patrons entering daily (the restaurant reportedly serves over 5,000 pounds of corned beef and 2,000 pounds of salami weekly), the tickets are utilized at each of the various serving stations throughout the restaurant and where tabs are calculated. Be forewarned that you must hang onto your ticket, even if not used, for it is to be presented to the cashier as you exit the premises. Failure to do so will result in a $50 lost ticket fee, which is something you should obviously try to avoid, especially when stumbling inside late at night.
Inside, the restaurant is simply massive. Resembling more an exposition center than delicatessen, the place is routinely packed with people waiting on line and tables full of people eating. But a lot of the interior looks just as you’d expect- traditional, factory-like, and 100% authentic. And while the selections are plentiful, they are nowhere near overwhelming.
Look if you’re at Katz’s you want to taste their pastrami or corned beef sandwiches, as it’s perhaps the most world renowned restaurant for such fare. But alternatives there are a plenty- from the massive “matzo ball soup” ($5.85) to the savory “chicken salad platter” ($10.60), the “open faced sandwich plate” ($15.05) to the “Katz’s Tongue” sandwich ($15.55), and a selection of burgers ($4.55-$10.60) and cold subs ($10.95) as well- you can bring eaters of any kind inside this historic house of meat.
But alas, we at LocalBozo.com are a bit old-fashioned and wanted a little taste of it all. Our collective mouth watered at the taste of the “combo” sandwich ($15.60) for a half pastrami, half turkey sandwich, that placed each of the freshly cut meats on separate sides of the delicious rye bread. The salty, tender pastrami blended into the warm, soft bread on one side for an eloquent combination of flavors, while the turkey on the other side, topped with ample cole slaw, delivered the goods in every conceivable way. After eating turkey sandwiches so frequently from the grocery store, you can’t possibly appreciate the taste of a time-honored, moist turkey sandwich, until you’ve been to Katz’s.
Next up on the agenda was the “Rueben,” ($15.75) a fantastic collaboration of “dry cure” corned beef, smooth Swiss cheese, creamy Russian dressing, and scrumptious sauerkraut sandwiched inside two perfect slices of rye bread. The sandwich is a bit messy with all of the ingredients, and you might be best served using utensils, but the favors are unlike any Reuben we’ve ever had.
Finally, we closed out the meal with the “Katz’s Original Recipe Salami.” The restaurant gives you the option of soft ($10.60) or hard ($13.45) salami, and we tried the hard without even looking back. Topped with some more of the subtle Swiss cheese, the sandwich was packed full of cured meat and literally needed no further toppings or condiments.
Finding a restaurant that can stand behind the laurels of their cuts of meat alone is a scarcity these days, especially in a city where you can’t throw a racquetball without hitting “The World’s Best” something or other. Katz’s Delicatessen manages to maintain the intricacies of tradition in a rapidly changing world outside its famed windows. And their strict adherence to the very principles that made them so successful is part of the place’s charm. So swat away the tourists, and take the trip down there that you’ve been avoiding since you became a Manhattaner. The food is incredible, the experience is unforgettable, and after remaining open for over 122 years, I think this place is going to make it.