by Roaming Panda
Long before our visit to New York, I was already very familiar with Katz's Deli. They've been featured on just about every travel/food show you can think of. They are world famous for their delectable deli meats and monstrous sandwiches. This was the first place that came to my mind when I thought about NY so it had to be one of the first places we tried. Calamity and euphoria soon ensue.
Let's set the stage first, I was fully prepared for a long line to get in and potential long wait to be seated. What I didn't account for is the utter chaos of a system they have for ordering and seating. We arrived in the early afternoon and surely there was already a line outside. Moved pretty quickly so no big deal. When you get closer to the door, what I can only assume is a bouncer regulates entry to a few groups at a time. Once you walk through golden deli gates, you're presented with a ticket and told not to lose it or suffer the consequences ($50 per ticket you lose). Tickets are used to order your food.
There are 2 ways you can go, you can opt for waiter service, wait for a table to be available, be seated, and served like a regular restaurant. Or you could shuffle your way to the deli counter and bunch up at one of the 8 or so different cutters and order your food that way. If you go this route, seating is first come first serve, so you're either perched at the end of a table waiting for someone to finish and leave, or you're spreading all your belongings on an open table to stake your claim. What's that? You have your sandwich and now you want a drink or a side to go with it? Well, go further down the counter and wait in this other line and order your sides there. Looking for dessert? You guessed it...different line please. Complete madness.
The ordering and seating process is so archaic and confusing that by the time I had my food, I was ready to flip a table. Calm down, breathe, let's just take a bite of this sandwich. We ordered a pastrami and a corned beef and swapped halves so we could try half of each. I took one bite of the pastrami and I've never had such a quick change of expressions. My eyes widened in wonder and amazement at how freaking delicious this sandwich is. With the amount of meat they pile on, I was expecting a workout for my jaw but the meat is so tender, so soft, and so moist that it just melts. It's such a simple sandwich but the meat is so well cured and so well prepared that it is easily the best sandwich I have ever had. The frustrations I had to endure to just sit down and eat this sandwich melted away like the pastrami in my mouth. Speechless. A bit pricey but worth it and more food than someone should probably consume in one sitting. I was a happy camper, until I had to figure out how to pay to get out of this place. If you want to pay in cash, it's one line by the front, and if you want to pay with card, A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT LINE IN THE BACK! WTF?!?!?