23 December 2013

Katz's Deli versus Carnigie Deli, New York

I realise that i may never be allowed back to Manhattan after this post. I strongly suspect there have been fights between "Team Katz's" and "Team Carnegie" that have broken up friendships, families and possibly even divided neighbourhoods. In case you have no idea what I'm on about all you need to know is that New York has a big deli culture, fresh sandwiches with delicious filling, the most famous being "pastrami on rye". Katz's deli and Carnegie deli are the most well known - Katz's claim to fame is the famous scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally - if you don't know the scene...where have you been?!

Katz's Deli

I visited Katz's after a long day out around Lower Manhattan. I stood in line with my friend only for a few minutes before being handed a ticket that would record my order and was let in. Inside, a mix of people sat at tables eating their massive sandwiches or lined up at the counter waiting to place their orders. Waiters were weaving in and out between the tables and people, carrying orders or clearing tables. Behind the long counter that ran the length of the deli were several men taking orders and making the sandwiches. Framed photos of all sorts of celebrities covered the walls and sign hung from the ceiling marked the spot where Meg Ryan had her moment. We placed our order for a pastrami on rye and corned beef on rye grabbed a seat then tried to munch our way through a sandwich that, lets face it, could feed two quite easily. My pastrami was delicious, oh my God was it good. I'm drooling just thinking about it. The crunchy pickles that accompanied it were perfect. My friend enjoyed his corned beef but said it was a little dry. We managed to polish of just over a half a sandwich each before surrendering, we were so full we were ready to burst. We took our tickets to the till, paid and made our way to the next stop feeling very happy and full.

Carnegie Deli

As part of the trip to Central Park, we made a pit stop at Carnegie Deli for provisions to make up our picnic. Through the door we met with the deli counter display and seating that stretched on towards the back. Here too the walls were so lined with framed photos of celebrities you could barely see the walls at all. The lighting was muted and decor more of a restaurant feel than Katz's. We placed our order after ogling the menu for a corned beef on rye, a salami on rye, a few pieces of pastrami and a slice of classic New York cheese cake. I have to say, a salami sandwich was not my best idea, the salami was good, not too fatty or overpowering but it would  have been better on a pizza. The corned beef was good very good, it was falling apart, moist and delicious. The pieces of pastrami were tasty but a little on the fatty side. The cheese cake...omg...can i just say, I've had cheesecake in all sorts of places but this one was just plain good - its what it should be, it was "just right".

The Verdict

Well, here is my opinion, again, please don't ban me from New York for this. If you like corned beef Carnegie is the winner, if you like pastrami Katz's wins hands down. If you want a place that makes you feel like your a local, Katz's casual atmosphere is best. For a place which has a more restaurant-like vibe then Carnegie is a bit more formal. Also, being in upper (Carnegie) or Lower (Katz's) Manhattan will mean one is going to be  heck of a lot closer to you than the other. Or you can do what i did and just try both - you wont regret it ;) just take someone with you and share a sandwich, both delis are super generous with their portion size.

Have you been to these delis? Which is your favourite?

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