NYC Jewish Delis

What did you not like and where have you had better?

That’s a relief to hear someone else say it. I went to Katz’s only once, was really looking forward to it. Underwhelmed. So sad.

What did you not like and where have you had better?

I loved Langer’s in LA. In NY I liked Stage Deli better than Katz’s. In Montreal I preferred the now-closed Main Deli over Schwartz’s.

Thanks for the specifics. Was it the texture of the meat (Stage is quite different from Katz in that area), or the taste?

That’s what I love going into Ross & Daughters - the smell almost more than the taste. The mix of lox, olives, pickles in the air takes me back to my childhood in the east end of London. Long lost.

I think both but it was long time ago! Also the tongue is so mild and creamy.

Also the overcomplicated paying system. I had no idea what I was doing. Has that changed?

You walk in on your hands then spring to grab a ticket by your teeth, somersault so that you are upright enough to give the slicer a dollar (is it more now?) in return for an ounce of flesh, ask for “juicy”, grab your loot, then, after eating, totter off to pay. If you’ve lost your ticket you simply sign over your first-born.

What could be simpler than that?

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I’m not sure what it was when you were there, but I’ve been to Katz’s twice in the past year. I sat in the section with table service, ordered, ate, got a check and paid it at the counter. Just like at any other restaurant, except for the threat about being fined for losing my ticket.

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For pastrami, it was always Carnegie for us because only Carnegie served Carnegie-made pastrami. We once made a cross-country delivery of gefilte fish from Second Avenue’s original location (before 9/11 changed the liquid loot you could carry-on). As for NYC tongue, the most memorable was from some send out for lunch deli around Wall Street – we asked if a tongue reuben was possible and the host office’s majordomo of arrangements replied: “All we can do is ask . . .” (We received and scarffed down the mound of oozing deliciousness.


Their bakery is very good. The first look at the rye bread may fool you as it doesn’t look quite right. However, the only difference is they don’t have any seeds sprinkled on the outside, so it looks odd, but there are plenty inside of it. It’s a very accurate rye bread - much better than the second tier stuff from back in the day (pre-packaged pechters or levy’s). They have their place, but not even close to a good rye. As an aside, since they live near there, I’d definitely recommend Grigg st. pizza (in greenwich) for both pizza and a great cheesesteak (the bread is from kneaded bread) and also Rafael’s bakery in greenwich. Neither is cheap but worth the extra expense and calories

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Nobody can quarrel with that.

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It’s pretty simple. Get a ticket at the door. The slicers/counterpeople will write a running total on the ticket as you order. Present the ticket for payment when you’re done. If you opt for table service, the waitstaff will take care of the total, but don’t lose the ticket.
This used to be a much more common system in the days of the cafeteria, but Katz’s is the only place I know of in NYC that still uses it.

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It’ll never be the same online . . . snagging extra rye slices at the long packed-in tables to make one served sandwich into one, even two more in hotel room:

Last time we were in the joint, the waitress [we surmised might have family from S.E. Asian war zone heritage] barked at next “place setting”: “Ya done wit dat ? . . .” What a great country back then before Carnegie’s 7th Avenue demise.

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I wonder how specific you and @calam1ty are when ordering. At Katz or any pastrami restaurant, I’m asking for a fatty cut…I don’t want pieces of fat but I want the sandwich sliced from the meat with the highest fat content. In my experience, it makes a huge difference. Likewise, when ordering brisket at a bbq restaurant, it’s always fatty brisket, cut from the point/deckle rather than the flat.

one of the reasons I like the katz ordering system is the opportunity for interaction with the cutter.


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Yes, I order it fatty, same as brisket, bbq or not.

I dunno, maybe it was because I chatted up the cutter, last time I was there he hunted around for a good piece and proceeded to put an ungodly amount of meat on our sandwich. We loved it!

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Does anyone out there have any experience with either Star Deli in Southfield Michigan or Manny’s in Chicago?(located outside the Loop) Manny’s is more well known due to road food.

Still, that doesn’t answer my question: What did you not like about it and where have you had better?