Restaurant Review: Katz’s Delicatessen, New York City

Katz's Pastrami, smoky, juicy, brined beef.

By Jonathan Spira on 18 April 2019
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Entering Katz’s Delicatessen is akin to entering a living museum. The New York landmark, which opened in 1888 across the street and moved to its present location in the 1920s, is the purveyor of the definitive pastrami sandwich in the city, perhaps the best in the land.

Dangling signs encourage you to “senda salami to your boy in the Army,” perhaps because you would eat the corned beef or brisket sandwich before you could mail it off. The supersized dining room – it seats 270 comingled with old photographs of prominent customers and other memorabilia on the walls – so chaotic that it’s charged with a kind of electricity hard to find elsewhere. Original neon signs? Everywhere, including in the windows where they should be.

Entering the establishment is invigorating. The ritual of taking a ticket at the door, lining up before a server who slices your meat by hand, carrying your newly-built sandwich, replete with thick slices of your chosen delicacy, to the table. Do you want pickles? Of course we do.

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It’s tumultuous and we love it.

At Katz’s, although I generally lean towards brisket, I prefer the pastrami, a gargantuan stack of smoky, juicy, brined beef that can be consumed without any condiments whatsoever. The brisket, while tasty, is a little too dry for my taste although others rave about it.

Katz’s chicken soup is rich and tasty and comes with a gargantuan softball-sized matzoh ball that is simply too large for human consumption. The matzoh ball was a bit grainy, but others in my party took exception with my finding.

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