Katz Deli: Don’t Lose Your Ticket!
Every New York deli has a strange, endearing quirky rule, at Carnegie Deli, it’s no sharing food and at Katz Deli: do not lose your yellow ticket. They hand you a yellow ticket when you walk in, there’s a sign above the door that tells you there is a $50 fine for losing the ticket. I’m not sure how serious they are about this, and even if it’s legal to hold you to it but why risk it? I am 99% sure the $50 fine is a total excuse to rip off tourists or snap-happy food bloggers. It’s not as if the food at Katz Deli is cheap either. I’m sure it was once a budget deli but ever since it was made famous by When Harry Met Sally, prices for regular cold cut sandwiches must have shot through the roof.
You wouldn’t guess it, but New York delis are chock full of history. Mainly opened by immigrants, delis feature traditional dishes like matzo ball soap, gyro sandwiches and my personal favourite, French toast made from Challah bread. New York delis are as colourful and vibrant as the city is full of life. Delis also being the regular late night hangouts of theatre actors and crew members, I have yet to visit a New York deli that does not have walls covered in celebrity photos.
We ordered a corned beef sandwich which was over $8 (?!). The portions were huge though, not as big as my favourite New York deli, Carnegie Deli but pretty close. The butcher slices off a sample of the meat for you to try before you confirm which sandwich you want. I should have taken advantage of this and asked to sample more meats but we were determined to get the corned beef sandwich.
I’ll admit that it was some of the best corned beef I have ever tasted, incredibly juicy in the middle, salty and packed with flavour. This was definitely a hearty sandwich, slathered in spicy mustard and served with two giant pickles. We had to pack the other half for later, the sandwich was THAT huge.
Like any typical New York City deli, Katz was busy and bustling even though it was 11 pm. Tables along the wall were reserved for wait service, customers who ordered over the counter at the deli were to sit in the middle tables. Whether you ordered over the counter or were waited on, you cannot lose your little yellow ticket.
We handed in both our tickets at the counter when we paid and exited, even though only mine was stamped. I’m almost more curious about this ticketing system than I am about the food. I’ll have to go back for further investigation, and maybe try out some of Katz’s many cakes in their dessert display case.