No matter how you slice it, attempting to make the world’s best sandwich at home is never as good as one made at a delicatessen. The bread is baked fresh, the meat is cured in-house, and the personalized service is unmatched. You almost don’t mind waiting patiently for your turn to be called up to the deli counter.
The Best Delis in New York City
As the late Anthony Bourdain once said, “New York does deli so well. It is the quintessential New York meal.” We wholeheartedly agree. There is nothing that screams classic New York City fare more than a towering pile of pastrami on rye or a piping hot bowl of matzo ball soup.
One simply cannot mention New York delicatessens without mentioning Katz’s Delicatessen. Visitors flock from around the world to visit this legendary spot which was the location where the iconic scene in the movie “Where Harry Met Sally” was filmed. The deli, located on the Lower East Side, still has a sign which reads, “Where Harry Met Sally…hope you have what she had!” The deli, however, was a Manhattan institution long before it appeared in the movie. It started in 1888 when the first Jewish deli opened in New York City. The freshly carved pastrami sandwiches are served in generous portions and definitely live up to the hype. The deli goes through roughly 15,000 pounds of pastrami every week. Katz’s Deli is also known for their corned beef and brisket, which are both cured, along with the pastrami, for up to 30 days. Other specialty items worth trying are the “Matzoh Ball Soup” and “Steak Fries.”
The late Anthony Bourdain has been quoted as saying that his first meal when he arrives back in New York from his culinary travels around the world is a pastrami sandwich from Pastrami Queen. He even once took to social media to post a photo of his sandwich when he arrived in New York fresh from a trip abroad. To Bourdain, it was the quintessential New York meal. We do not disagree. The “World Famous Overstuffed Pastrami Sandwich” is piled high with pastrami that has the perfect blend of both lean and fatty meat served on warm, freshly baked bread. Two hands are required to keep this humongous sandwich in place. The creamy, homemade slaw can be added, although most favor the traditional style with mustard and a pickle on the side.
Russ & Daughters
We love bagels and lox as much as pastrami sandwiches. Russ & Daughters has been home to delicious bagels and lox since 1914. Its storefront displays an array of hand-rolled bagels with cream cheese, pickled herring and pistachio halvah. You can also find traditional baked goods, smoked fish, babka and caviar. We also love the charitable initiatives done by the Russ & Daughters team. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal teamed up with Russ & Daughters and the non-profit group New York Forever earlier this year to create limited edition LOX hoodies to support NYC Theater employees. Proceeds from the sale of every hoodie will go to the Actors Fund. The first collaboration with Gyllenhaal last summer was to help independent restaurants struggling during the pandemic. Proceeds from the custom salmon tie-dye t-shirt went to the Independent Restaurant Coalition.
Ben’s Kosher Delicatessen Restaurant
Ben’s Kosher Delicatessen Restaurant is a family-owned and operated delicatessen and restaurant serving New Yorkers for close to half a century. All of the soups, salads and sandwiches are prepared fresh daily. Traditional customer favorites include homemade soups, fresh coleslaw, crunchy pickles and hot pastrami sandwiches. If you are at Ben’s, make sure you try the “Knish,” baked or fried balls stuffed with onions and potatoes. The pastrami and brisket sandwiches will melt in your mouth. Pair one of their sandwiches with the creamy mushroom barley soup. It is comfort food at its finest. Ben’s has six locations in New York.
David’s Brisket House
It’s hard to resist a tender brisket, and David’s Brisket House serves some of the best brisket sandwiches in Brooklyn. A Bed-Stuy institution since 1981, the menu features only four main items: pastrami, brisket, Reuben and corned beef sandwiches. The thinly sliced brisket is piled high and roasted to perfection, giving it a caramelized edge. The deli used to be under Jewish ownership until it was bought in the late 1980s, but the curing process remained, ensuring that every sandwich is juicy and flavorful.