Katz's Deli

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Amidst Change, One thing is Constant in the Lower East Side, Katz’s Delicatessen

Jun 19, 2002 (Updated Jun 19, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Pastrami, good Lower East Side location.

Cons:Iffy service, and somewhat high prices.

The Bottom Line: Katz’s isa real deal old-world delicatessen located in the Lower East Side. The pastrami isgreat, the location isgood, and theservice is... well iffy. That isall you need toknow, so go!


The Lower East Side has changed a lot these past several years, Iíve noticed, especially in the area just below Houston Street, and just east of Allen. Here, this old bargain hunterís paradise has become a much more trendier place to window shop, and visit. Formerly a collection of old fabric shops, and bargain clothing stores, the area has sprouted up many hip, young fashion designer shops, along with quite a number of tiny bars, cafes; and just recently, an art house movie theater that once housed Yiddish vaudeville. Of course, prices have gone up a little. One icon in the neighborhood that wonít change anytime soon, and you can bet on it, is Katzís. Any tour through the Lower East Side is never complete without a stop here, a real deal old-world style delicatessen where time has stood still, and history has taken over.

Walking into Katzís is like walking back in time into an old 1940ís cafeteria with old Formica tables, and dark wooden walls hung with hundreds of old photos from the 114 years Katz has been business. One could easily imagine Dick Tracy types in overcoats, and fedoras sitting down to a soup and newspaper; but these days, only tourists and regulars dressed in shorts, and tees.

At the front door, someone would hand you a ticket when you enter. This you must keep with you until you leave. Meals would be tallied on it, and it would be your only ticket out the front door; you do not want to exit through the kitchen, washing dishes along the way.

Despite the aged, museum like feel of the place, the food is top notch. People come to Katzís for pastrami, corned beef, and frankfurters. There is also turkey, and tuna, but they often get less than stellar treatment -- stick to the pastrami, corned beef, and brisket if you want whatís good for you. They also have tongue, but unfortunately, they take it out of a foil wrapped package from their refrigerator to heat up for you.

At Katzís, there is a longstanding tradition to tip the deli man in order to get the best cut of pastrami, or corned beef. They have two cuts available. Those who tip get the best, those who do not get less; it is a shame, though. While I was there, I did not want to take any chances, so I reluctantly ante up, and made sure the guy saw me put the one-dollar in the cup. I did get a good portion of the good cut, a gleaming piece of succulent pastrami all steamy and hot, with juices dripping. It was the kind that melted in your mouth, and made you remember why you went to Katzís in the first place. The person standing behind me saw it too, and moaned softly. Too bad, though, he was not going get any of that unless he too, ante up.

Prices at Katzís are not especially cheap, $9.95 for a pastrami, corned beef, or brisket on rye, $11.85 for combos, and a bit more for tongue. You do get a hefty, and satisfying portion of meat for your money. Frankfurters, another popular item, are $2.40, and there are various other old world specialties you can order like beans and franks, knishes, and beef stew. Drinks consist of Dr. Brownís sodas, and draft beers. For good knishes in the neighborhood, try Yonah Schimmel Knishery at 137 E. Houston Street.


Other notes:
Food at Katzís is served cafeteria style, you simply queue in line, get what you want, and find a place to sit. There is optional waitress service available. Katzís also ships worldwide, and they are famous for the slogan, "Send a salami to your boy in the army".


Address:Katzís, 205 E. Houston Street. New York, NY. 10002.
Phone: 8004HOTDOG, or 2122542246, email: deliman@rcn.com
Directions: By Subway, take the F train to the Second Avenue stop, walk over to Ludlow Street. By bus, M15, M21, M14A, M9 all stop in the area.


Recommend this product? Yes

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