No visit to Manhattan is complete without a stop at a Jewish kosher style deli. One of the best known and most popular is Katz's Delicatessen, established in 1888. They coined the phrase "send a salami to your boy in the army" during World War II and were featured in the movie "When Harry Met Sally" among others. You can see signs mentioning both of these claims to fame in this photo.
The staff are quite pushy when you open the door, trying to get as many people in and ordering as quickly as possible. We were handed a little white ticket and told to hurry up to the counter to place our order. We took the advice of our server at the meat counter and went for the pastrami on rye. Excellent choice! Hand sliced meat, fresh bread and absolutely delicous. We also got some pickles on the side which I was anxious to try. There were two types of pickles made on site, a typical kosher style dill (the greener coloured ones) and a very sour pickle (the browner ones) which tasted like nothing I've ever tried. Fascinating to me because I love pickles. I still prefer my Texas style dill pickle, but the sour one was mouth-wateringly good.
Lucky for us, we had spoken to a local who told us if we were going to Katz's, we should tip the guy at the meat counter when placing our order to get more meat in our sandwich. A $5 tip did not go astray. We got this ridiculous pile of meat in our sandwich as a result of our generosity! It wasn't a cheap sandwich in the first place (about $15 I think), but we shared it between the two of us and certainly felt we got our money's worth.
An awesome pairing with the pastrami on rye is a Dr Brown's soda. Dr Brown's is now owned by Pepsi but still made locally in College Point, New York. The name apparently goes back to a doctor who used to treat immigrant children in the area and developed a kosher seltzer containing celery seeds, which was the precursor to one of the 6 flavours available today called "Cel-Ray." Somehow celery flavoured soda didn't sound too appetizing so we went for Black Cherry instead. The other Dr Brown's flavours are Cream Soda, Orange Soda, Root Beer and Ginger Ale. You can get a Coke or Pepsi pretty much anywhere, but Katz's is one of the few places where you can get a Dr Brown's.
After our sandwich, pickles and Dr Brown's soda were gone, I took our white ticket up to the drinks counter and ordered a New York Egg Cream. This is a concoction I had heard of many times before but had never tried for myself. I got vanilla (they also have chocolate) because I thought it was the more traditional option, but apparently chocolate has its own Brooklyn Egg Cream tradition. The other ingredients in the drink are...no, not egg or cream...just milk and "seltzer" which is carbonated water. Simple, but delicious. There's something about the mixture of the milk and the seltzer that just works really well.
People, there's a reason why Katz's has A) been around since 1888, B) is featured in numerous films and folklore, and C) is generally packed with tourists and locals alike. They're good at what they do and it's a real New York City experience. I hope they'll be around for another 123 years.