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Katz's Deli NYC | When Harry Met Sally Restaurant

Updated: May 2, 2024

New Yorkers have been eating at Katz’s Delicatessen since its opening in 1888!

As a native New Yorker myself, I've eaten at Katz's over dozens of times, from childhood until today. The smell of the pastrami makes my mouth water the minute I walk in.

I wrote this post to help you decide if a trip to Katz's is worth your time. Included are the top five dishes to try, directions there, advice on the best times to go, and nearby activities to enjoy.

I talked to my fellow local tour guides for their opinions and also gathered thoughts on Katz's from members of our NYC Travel Tips Facebook group. See what they had to say at the bottom of this post.

Our group of more than 240,000 members consists of locals, frequent visitors to NYC, and those just getting to know the city.

There's no need to join the group to read the recommendations so check it out when you're done reading this post.


WHAT IS KATZ'S?

When it comes to New York delicatessens, Katz's is the undisputed champion.

Located in the historic Lower East Side of New York City, this iconic eatery has been serving up some of New York's best pastrami since 1888.

Katz's was originally called 'Iceland Brothers' before Willie Katz came along and partnered up with the brothers to create 'Iceland and Katz'.

Then Willie and his cousin, Benny, bought out the Iceland Brothers, and it's been Katz's ever since. The current location opened in 1917.

The restaurant is now owned by the Dell family, longtime friends of the Katz family.

The food is classic delicatessen food with many Jewish traditional foods. It is not a kosher restaurant, but rather kosher-style. Read more below.

You can get pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, knishes, hot dogs, matzo ball soup, blintzes and much more.

Their sandwiches are a pound of meat between two slices of bread. So be ready to take big bites.

Katz’s is so much more than the food. The decor is retro-cafeteria, with wooden tables and chairs and no pretension.

The atmosphere is authentic Lower East Side. You will feel as if you've time-traveled back to the 1940s.

Take a look at this Google 360 view to get a preview.

Learn about Katz’s and hear funny anecdotes from our local guides on our pay-what-you-like Lower East Side Food Tour.

While our Lower East Side Food Tour does not go into Katz’s for food we encourage people to go back and have some food. 


PLAN YOUR VISIT

Below is information on how to get here, when to visit, what to order, and how to order.

TIPS:

Do not eat a big meal beforehand. You will need room for the fantastic, but heavy food at Katz’s.

While credit cards are accepted for waiter service at the tables, if you get your order at the counter yourself, it is cash only at the register on your way out.


Where is Katz's Deli Located?

Katz’s is located at 205 East Houston Street (corner of Ludlow Street) which is in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Use this Google map to get exact directions from your point of departure to Katz’s.  


By subway

  • F train to Second Avenue station. Exit the station at the First Avenue exit which leaves you just a 3-minute walk from Katz’s.
  • J/M/Z trains to Essex Street Station or Bowery Station
  • 6 train to Bleecker Street Station or Spring Street station
  • B/D trains to Grand Street Station
  • N/R trains to Prince Street

New to NYC's subway? Then check out our guides to navigating the system and how to choose the right MetroCard.

TIP: Several Hop-on, Hop-off bus tours have stops located near Katz’s. Gray Line Tours and City Sights NY both stop at Grand Street and Allen Street about 5 blocks away.

Read about the options from our detailed post comparing bus tours of New York City


Best Times to Visit

Katz's deli hours are perfect for early birds and night owls, and everyone in between!

On the weekends, they stay open around the clock!

It’s one of the favored spots by cab drivers working overnight shifts.

Katz's is open:

  • Monday - Wednesday: 8:00 am - 10:45 pm
  • Thursday: 8:00 am - 2:45 am
  • Friday: 8:00 am - Open all night!
  • Saturday: Open all day and night.
  • Sunday: Open until 10:45 pm.

There is often a line to get in. But you can avoid the line if you go at certain times.

Based on Google’s Popular Times function, these are the best times to go:

On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, you can expect a lunch crowd, with a potential wait of up to 45 min from 1:30 pm-4:00 pm.  

But you may not have to wait at all. To avoid a wait, arrive before 1 pm or after 4 pm.

Saturdays and Sundays are busy steadily from 12 pm-8 pm you may have to wait at least 45 minutes.

If you go between the peak hours between 1 pm to 4 pm the line may be over an hour. You’ll be waiting outside with nowhere to stand, so be prepared.


How to Order Your Food

Katz’s operates on an old-school ticket system. It can be a bit confusing, but we break it all down for you.

Just remember the mantra: DO NOT LOSE YOUR TICKET

(1) As you walk in the door, every adult in your group will get a little ticket. Even if someone else in your group is ordering and paying, KEEP YOUR TICKET. 

If you do not keep your ticket or you misplace it, you will have to pay $50 - the price of two pastrami sandwiches and two sodas.

We have yet to hear from anyone that they were charged $50 if they lost their ticket. Still, don't take chances. DO NOT LOSE YOUR TICKET.

Katz's Deli Ticket

(2) If you are ordering sandwiches (which is what you are here for!), head to the long service counter where there are a few sandwich makers. Pick whichever line is the shortest.

(3) When it’s your turn to order, tell the counter person what you would like.

After they prepare your sandwiches and hand you your food on a tray, they will ask for your TICKET and they’ll write down what you ordered.

(4) Take your food and TICKET to any available table, as long as it doesn't say “table service only.”

There are often seats, at the back, and around the corner near the bathrooms.

(5) If you want to sit where Sally sat, look for the table with the round sign above it.

(6) Once you’ve finished your meal and put away your trays, bring your ticket to the cash register at the door and pay on your way out.


Nearby Attractions

When I make my twice-yearly trip to Katz's, I like to walk around the neighborhood and stop by some favorite spots.

Economy Candy - Opened in 1937, this candy shop has the most extensive selection of candy in the city. Looking for candy from your childhood? It's here. They sell fresh halvah - it is to die for!

Houston and Bowery Mural Wall - Iconic spot for street artists, made famous in the 1980s by artist Keith Haring. The wall changes every few months, so I like to see what the latest work is there. If you like street art like I do, check out our Manhattan Street Art Tour.

Eldridge Street Synagogue -  An important part of Lower East Side Jewish history, opened in 1887 by the first congregation of Russian Jews in America. There is an admission fee, but on Mondays and Fridays, they offer ‘Pay What You Wish’ admission.

Tenement Museum - Learn about the first residents of the Lower East Side. Fun for adults and children alike. If you like history as I do, this museum is not to be missed.

New Museum - A contemporary art museum. Entry is free on Thursday nights 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Find out about other museums with free hours here.


KATZ'S TOP 5 DISHES

You might want to give it some advanced planning, so take a look at Katz's Delicatessen's menu here.


Pastrami sandwich on rye bread  

Pastrami is meat that has been cured, similar to corned beef or brisket.

What is so enticing about pastrami is the ‘rub’ of spices that goes onto the meat after curing but before it is smoked.

Katz’s has a secret "dry cure" pickling formula that requires a full month to prepare.

Their rub also hits just the right notes. Pastrami is traditionally eaten on rye bread with mustard (mayonnaise is a big no-no).

Katz’s sandwiches are big enough for two people to share.

My favorite way to enjoy my sandwich is with a side of half-sour pickles and tangy coleslaw.

Wash it all down with a Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda and you will have done Katz’s right.

A pastrami sandwich is one of the most famous NYC foods.


Matzo ball soup

This soup is a traditional food eaten during the Jewish holiday of Passover in April. The soup is a tasty chicken broth.

Matzo balls are made from the ground meal of Matzo (unleavened bread) mixed with egg, then shaped into balls which are boiled and plopped into the broth!

Katz’s matzo balls are the size of tennis balls! But they are fluffy enough that you won’t feel weighed down, just deliciously satisfied.


Hot Dog with Deli Mustard and Sauerkraut

You never knew how good a hot dog could be until you’ve had one from Katz’s.

You can see them through the front window, laid out in rows on a giant griddle. They are kosher hot dogs meaning it is made of high-quality beef in natural-casings.

They have a nice blend of spices and are very lightly charred (though you can certainly ask for one that is well done, or not as charred).

It’s cradled by your standard bun. Be sure to put on mustard and pile on the sauerkraut. No ketchup allowed! Well, that's just the way I like them.


Cheese Blintzes

A little bit like a filled crepe, a blintz is a very thin pancake, filled with sweet cheese, lightly sauteed, and dusted with powdered sugar.

The exterior is crisp while the cheese inside is fluffy and rich at the same time. They are served with sour cream and applesauce.

Save room for their blintzes. You might regret it if you don't.


Potato Latkes

Latke is Yiddish for “pancake.”

Potato latkes are a very simple recipe - grated potato, mixed with a tiny amount of grated onion, whipped with egg into a batter.

It's then formed into a pancake and fried in oil to perfection and served with sour cream and applesauce. So good!


KOSHER VS. KOSHER-STYLE FOOD

Many people think that Katz's Deli is a strictly kosher restaurant. Rather they are a kosher-style restaurant.

Kosher is not a style of cooking. It refers to the Jewish laws regarding the preparation of meals and which foods may or may not be eaten.

It is mostly very religious Jews that “keep Kosher.”

In New York City, however, you will find plenty of Jews who do not keep kosher but do enjoy kosher-style food.

The rules of keeping kosher and what makes a certain food kosher or not are too long to include in this post. But here are the basics:

No pork and no shellfish.  

Forget about bacon-wrapped shrimp. You cannot eat any form of pork or seafood (specifically crustaceans).

Fish can be eaten as long as it is a fish that has scales and fins. Thank goodness for this exception. Otherwise, there would be no such thing as bagels and lox. 

Speaking of bagels, find out where to get the Best Bagels in New York City

No milk and meat together.  

You cannot serve any kind of meat at the same meal with any form of dairy.  In true kosher delis, you will never see butter.

Instead, you will get a big tub of schmalz, which is congealed chicken fat and is dangerously delicious. 

Preparation.

Jewish laws require specific ways to slaughter animals. We will skip the details, to not spoil your appetite.

But know that when you order a kosher chicken, it will be the best chicken you ever had.


So what is kosher-style food?

It is an Americanized version of traditional kosher foods.

Kosher-style cuisine developed in the 1920s among the many Jews who had emigrated from Eastern Europe to America.

Eating kosher-style food (while not keeping kosher, a sign of being more secular) was a way for American Jews to maintain Jewish traditions while assimilating into American culture.

This is something we go into in-depth on our pay-what-you-like Lower East Side Food Tour.


WHEN HARRY MET SALLY

If you’ve been wondering where Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan were eating in the most memorable scene in the movie, you have come to the right place.

The hilarious, practically rated-R, “I'll have what she's having" scene was filmed in Katz’s.

You can sit at the table where Harry and Sally sat. Just look for the large sign hanging from the ceiling above that very special table.

While you're there, make sure you take a walk around. The walls are covered with photos of famous folks who have eaten there.


TIPS FROM LOCALS AND TRAVELERS

After reading this post and still not sure if Katz’s is worth your time?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of rave reviews from our New York City Travel Tips Facebook group members.

Here is a small sampling.

Don’t be scared off by the long line. You might be able to avoid it if you follow these tips from our group members.

We’ve warned you about losing your ticket. We weren't exaggerating!

Here’s a reminder as well as a fantastic tip about how to get a “free sample”.

Still on the fence? Here’s a member who enjoyed her entire experience.

There is always some disagreement about who has the best pastrami sandwich in New York City, so a group member posted this poll and 56 people voted.

The numbers speak for themselves!

About The Author

Courtney Shapiro

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker in love with the city’s history, culture and food. She's a world travel as well and enjoys sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined Free Tours by Foot in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She still leads tours on a part-time basis. READ MORE...
Updated: May 2nd, 2024
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