Katz's deli is an institution in NYC. There is not one tourist guide that would not recommend this place. We went there last Sunday and it was crazy! Especially after two tourist buses arrived...
This place was opened in 1888 by a Russian emigrant and had, since then, been serving the standard dishes you would find in a deli. They survived hard times like the depression or World Wars. In fact, during World War II. they encouraged the parents to send a salami to their sons (the famous "Send a salami to your boy in the army" that you will see on their T-shirts). Today, you can still send a salami to soldiers.
Katz's deli has been the location of many movies:
- The most famous filmed there being When Harry met Sally with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. If you sit at the same table they were, you will see a sign that says: "Where Harry met Sally...hope you have what she had!".
- Donnie Brasco with Johnny Depp, in the scene where he is meeting with a FBI agent.
- We own the night with Joaquim Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg. In this movie, the place was supposed to be the Belmont Diner in Queens.
Other movies were shot there and you can find some videos on Youtube. But, when you look at it, you would think it is a nice and quiet place: it is not the case at all! This place is a mad house and you would not go there for a romantic dinner for sure!
At the entrance, they will give you a ticket: do not lose it! If you do, they will charge you a minimum of $50. The restaurant introduced this fee several years ago to prevent people from either saying they lost the ticket to pay less and to force them to look after it. The ticket will be used by the staff to account for the food you ordered. You have two options:
|Found on Yelp!|
- Table service, where a rude wait staff will serve you (thanks for throwing the pickles on the table!).
- Cafeteria, where you will queue up and go to the different counters to order your food and then will try (desperately) to find a table to sit (some tables are for table service only).
We got a seat at a table with another couple, but they left two empty seats between us. The space between tables was so narrow that it was a whole exercise to get seated. The waitress throw some pickles on the table, before asking for our order. I have to say that the pickles were pretty good (I love this deli tradition). I tried for the first time a pickled tomato and loved it!
We ordered: Matzoh all soup, potato pancakes and a Pastrami Reuben. The food was very slow to come. In fact it came one after the other; that is fine when you are sharing, but not when you order for yourself. At least, while waiting, you can look around at the hundreds of photos of celebrities who came to the restaurant (next to our table were photos of some cast members of The Sopranos).
Then came the Matzoh ball soup. The Matzoh ball was good, but I did not like the broth. It had a too strong taste and kind of greasy.
Several minutes later, we got our potato pancakes. They were good, but greasy too! Also, they do not give you that much of apple sauce, that I guarantee you is not homemade (otherwise, they should fire the chef).
Then, came the Pastrami sandwich. Yes, sandwich. Not the reuben I ordered. At that point, I was thinking: "Forget it! if you tell the rude waitress that she screwed up, it will take forever for your reuben to come, considering the time it took for your sandwich to be prepared!". So I ate it, but could not finish it. The meat was way too greasy. I know that you cannot expect a Pastrami sandwich not to be greasy, but it was too much. Too much fat and the meat was not as tender as what I had in other restaurants. Surprisingly, I did not finish it. Yes, read again: I did not finish it. That is exceptional if you know me!
We then left the restaurant, disappointed by the experience. The only good surprise was that the cashier was polite...By the way, it was cash only and the waitress of course did not forget to mention that the tip had to remain on the table...
I think this restaurant is overrated! The food was not as good as the food they serve at Junior's or the 2nd Avenue deli, with a better service on top of that and better prices (imagine that: $2.85 for a can of soda???). If people visit and ask me where to go to get a taste of a good deli, I would certainly not recommend Katz's! ]
I did not enjoy (I didn't)!