I’ll give you a forewarning regarding this entry because I’m about to be a Negative Nancy. Not all reviews/experiences can be positive, so I hope to save someone else time and money by possibly convincing them to avoid my negative experience.
To start off, I’ll admit that I was at Katz’s on a Saturday evening, in what appeared to be the exact hour every tourist (and possibly New Yorker?) wanted a steaming hot pastrami sandwich. My fault, but that’s what worked for my schedule. I’ve heard of Katz’s as the legend and the be-all of NY deli sandwiches, so I finally decided to go. My boyfriend warned me that he didn’t recommend it , but I wanted to go (quite stubbornly) anyway. We got there, and within seconds I had sensory overload from the cattle style lines, winding in unmanned chaos, leading up to the counters with food.
Yes ladies and gentleman, free-forming lines where every man is in it for him or herself. Claw your way to the front, back stab the person next to you by squirming your way in somewhere ahead of them; law does not apply in this establishment.
If my boyfriend hadn’t been before, I would also have been completely confused. You get a ticket at the door, which is how you get your order tallied once you make your way to the front. You also can’t lose your ticket, even if unused, because you need it to get back outside. The consequence if you lose it? I’m not sure. Maybe they make you stand in their winding lines until closing time aka real world hell on Houston Street. Forget the boiling oil and tar for eternity with the Big Man himself. I think that bad souls just get trapped between two fat Southern tourists at Katz’s for eternity.
Anyway, on to the food. Yes, their sandwiches are, erm, sufficient. I ate it, it was good. I will give the food a “meh” though because of the cost ratio. My boyfriend and I got one sandwich and canned soda each, and the bill was just over $40. Really? Go to Harold’s in NJ, and you can feed at least 3-4 people on $40, and you’ll probably have leftovers. (Blog on Harold’s to come soon!).
Here is half of the pastrami sandwich in all of its unimpressive glory.
When you order at the counter (above) they let you have a slice of whatever you’re ordering, which is a pretty nifty idea considering you’re probably starving and watching them cut the meat, but instead of it being a “sample and then choose” situation, you get a taste of what you already ordered. Weird. I guess if they let everyone taste and order afterwards, the lines would be out the door.
They do give you a handful of pickles with your sandwich, and being a huge pickle fan, that is quite an exciting idea to me. However, the half sour pickles were not briny enough, and actually, also pretty unimpressive. Not to tout Harold’s again, but they have a whole pickle bar that you’re free to visit throughout your meal. Awesome right?
Here is the infamous seat as seen in “When Harry Met Sally.” After having visited Katz’s, I have to say I hold that scene a little less fondly at heart.
Seating is also first come first serve. Float around with your tray until you find a place to sit. If you split up to get drinks (which are at a different ordering station), be prepared to scan the room a few times just to find them. Oh, and no soda fountain, just cans? Really again? They do have Pilsner Urquell on tap, which I enjoy, but I did not order it.