Have you seen When Harry Met Sally? One of the most famous scenes in that movie, takes place in a 100 year old legendary institution famous for its pastrami sandwiches. Everyone knows that iconic scene, but if you need a refresher, here ya go (or watch this hilarious remake!):
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I knew I had to get a pastrami sandwich at one point or another while in New York and decided to kill two birds with one stone by hitting up Katz’s Delicatessen. Yes, it is a travel cliche to visit, a line on every tourists to-do list. But, little did I know, the sandwich turned out to be the best thing* I ate the whole time I was in New York.
The deli was busy, so busy that you could barely get in line or even move around the place. I was there between lunch and dinner (around 3:30pm) and there wasn’t an empty seat in sight. I thought it would be quieter in the mid afternoon, but it was jammed pack. I shudder to think of what it would be like during meal times. It’s open late on some nights, so it might be worth it to go much later in the day if you’re a night owl.
When you enter, you’re handed a ticket and instructed to not loose it. Even if you don’t buy anything, you need to give the ticket back in order to leave. If you can’t produce the ticket, you need to pay $50. I’m not entirely sure why they do this,
maybe some sort of crowd control? I’ve just remembered. They write your order on it, so I suppose its a form of preventing dine and dash.
Pictures of past and current celebrities lined the walls of the deli. Combined with the various neon lights and signage, there is so much to look at it can be overwhelming. A Times Square of delis. Right in the middle of the deli is a sign hanging from the ceiling: “When Harry Met Sally. Hope you have what she had!” along with an arrow pointing down.
I managed to wiggle my way to the shortest “line” and patiently waited my turn. I ordered my pastrami sandwich, was giving a small slice to taste and oh my goodness. It literally melted in my mouth. Salty, juicy and so so good.
The use the best cuts of beef for all of their sandwiches. To cure their corned beef and pastrami, they use a slow method which does not have chemicals, water or other addictive to the meat. It takes 30 days for their meat to cure, compared with the commercially produced meats which takes as little 36 hours as it is pressure injected.
It was expensive for a sandwich – $17, but it’s massive and comes with a heaping of pickles on the side. On my own, I was only able to eat half and saved the other bit for another meal, so definitely share!
I got my sandwich to go. There is a nearby park that I was going to sit in to enjoy my sandwich but ultimately decided it was much to hot to eat comfortably, so I had to wait until I got back to my AirBnB rental to enjoy my sandwich. Boy was it worth the wait. I’m still salivating over this delicious monstrosity.
The savory and juicy pastrami is piled high, the bread is thick with mustard and it is served with a large serving of pickles. The perfect combination of sweet, salty and sour. Perfection in a sandwich. Every bite made the long lines and trek down to the Lower East Side worth it.
Have you been to Katz’s Deli? What did you think?
205 East Houston St. NYC 10002