No grand tour of NYC is complete without a visit to a NYC icon, Katz’s Deli on the Lower East Side. This immutable institution has been around since 1888. The establishment’s longevity has more to do with the good than the bad, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.
Hand carved pastrami. Huge sandwiches. Light and creamy cheesecake. Sharing tables with strangers and admiring all the vintage NY decor.
Oy! The staff is horrible. Plain and simple. The second you enter, you’re greeted with total chaos and no help at all from any members of staff. A line of security personnel ushers you in quickly and the only information we were told was to not lose the ticket they hand you or you’ll be forced (by their thug security staff) to pay $50 per misplaced ticket! (I’ve read horror stories about this arcane and asinine policy. Plenty of restaurants have the same number of covers and still manage to have people pay their tabs. Makes no sense at all. But hey…when in NY…)
We waited among a crowd of confused customers, while being shouted at by the staff behind the counter to stand back. Finally I realized that if we wanted to be seated as opposed to standing in line for counter service we needed to let a girl know who was behind a different counter our names, but there is no structure to this whatsoever and it was only by chance that I noticed this other counter.
Once you are seated, don’t dare ask a passing server a question or say “excuse me” to try to get some assistance- for anything. Just wait for your appointed server to come back- no matter how long it takes. They will come eventually!
Oh, and they never clear any plates on your table whatsoever. So the dishes will pile up as your courses end. Just know it’s part of the Katz’s Deli “charm”.
So if that doesn’t turn you off, then maybe you will find it’s one of the most fun meals you can have in NYC. Sure it’s touristy, and expensive. But it’s the experience you are paying for. And the pound of melt-in-your-mouth meat on your sandwich.
So if you are ever in NYC and you want to experience a true fixture of NYC culture and a bygone era, Katz’s Deli may just be the place for you.Katz’s Deli 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002 (212) 254-2246