FOOD AND DRINK
In Search of Meat at Four Classic New York Delis
Where to go when hankering for a towering pastrami on rye.
There’s nothing quite as quintessentially New York as trying to stuff a mile-high pastrami on rye into your gullet. While physics would suggest it’s an impossible feat, generations of smoked meat lovers have proven otherwise. So when the hankering for a plate of pickles and tangy mustard strikes, here are some sure-fire Jewish delis to quell the appetite.
A mainstay of the Lower East Side since 1888, Katz’s is granddaddy of all New York delis. Specializing in freshly carved pastrami and corned beef, Katz’s has everything you’d expect from a Jewish deli, from blintzes and knishes, bagels and matzo balls, and unforgettable pickles. Food aside, Katz’s is something to behold for his bustling vibe, walls plastered with signed celeb-photos, and throwback signage that harkens to the establishment’s past. But beware, be sure not to lose the seemingly superfluous ticket that’s handed to you upon entry. You’ll need it in order to leave.
205 E Houston St, 212-254-2246
Russ & Daughters
Like Katz’s, Russ & Daughters is a product of New York’s early Jewish immigrant community. Opened in 1918 and family run for four generations, Russ & Daughters remains a purveyor of deli staples such as hand-rolled bagels, served with cream cheese and lox, buttery halvah, pickled herring lauded by the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Louis C.K. On the sweeter side, regulars flock for pastries and hand-dipped chocolates. Recently, the family opened Russ & Daughters Café just down the street, which is impeccably modeled after the namesake store, but with a more relaxed café atmosphere.
179 E Houston Street, 212-475-4880
Eisenberg Sandwich Shop
Some delis just call it like it is. With the motto “Raising New York’s cholesterol since 1929,” Eisenberg Sandwich Shop is one such deli. Found in the shadow of the infamous Flatiron Building, next to Fifth Avenue shops such as Armani Exchange and Club Monaco, Eisenberg’s narrow lunch counter is famous for its hot pastrami and tuna melt sandwiches. The portion sizes aren’t quite as abundant as those at Katz’s or the Carnegie (probably a good thing for those shopping for the latest fashions), but the quality suffers not. Classic New York-style coleslaw, crispy onion rings, and the beef brisket are also great bets.
174 5th Ave, 212-675-5096
2nd Avenue Deli
Once a part of the Lower East Side community, 2nd Ave Deli retained its name and all of its heritage when it moved up to it’s 33rd Street location in Murray Hill. Dishing out kosher classic such as gribenes (fried chicken skin with onions), meaty chopped liver, potato pancakes, mushroom-barley soup, and beef tongue and pastrami sandwiches, 2nd Street Deli is a true slice of old New York.
162 East 33rd Street, 212-689-9000