Stepping into Katz’s Deli is like going into a timewarp. You can sit at formica tables, soak up all the retro fixtures and fittings that look as though they haven’t changed since at least the 1950’s, gawp at all the photos of celebrities on the walls, and eat a salt beef bagel that is bigger than your head. Then, when paying for your food, fast forward right back to present-day New York and get stung for more dosh than it costs to buy one of the souvenir t-shirts at the exit!
But no matter. Despite this probably being one of the biggest tourist traps in New York, everyone visiting this city should pay at least one visit here. This place has been trading since 1888, and they cure all their own meat. The food is plain, big and hearty – and delicious. If you’re not in the mood for 6 inches of pastrami (beef cured in a special way) between your slices of rye, you can have just about any other kind of traditional American comfort food imaginable. We came here for the bagels – and of course the decor!
There are hundreds of salamis hanging up – the Katz famous phrase is ‘Senda Salami to your boy in the army!’
Hundreds of celebs have been photographed eating here – from Bill Clinton and Ben Stiller to Gorbachev and Barbra Streisand. I also spotted a non-labelled photo of Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox on the wall. I wonder if anyone in New York (apart from the Brit ex-pats) has the foggiest idea who she is?
Nothing looks as though it has been updated for decades:
Smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels – an eye watering $15 apiece, but totally delicious. You get about 10 slices of salmon and half a tub of cream cheese in each bagel:
Roast turkey and Swiss cheese on an onion bagel: a bit dry but tasty nonetheless:
The big daddy: pastrami bagel with mustard and pickles, totally delicious, but my God, this cost $20!
Serious meat – not for the fainthearted:
And I nearly forgot to mention: this is the deli where the infamous scene with Meg Ryan in ‘Where Harry Met Sally’ was filmed, where she fakes an orgasm at the table. You can sit at the very same table and do your own version, just like in that terrible TV ad:
Once you have recovered from the extortionate prices, you will feel melancholy knowing that the experience of eating a bagel in the UK has been totally ruined. Nothing will ever be the same again…
205 East Houston Street
New York NY 10002