This place is an institution. Coincidently, the place is run by a bunch of lunatics. They have this whole weird ticket system they use that acts as your entrance stamp, your menu, your claim ticket and your bill. God forbid if you mess up the process! You’ll be ostracized and scorned not only by the freakish machete-wielding help, but by the Katz’s locals who depend on their daily pastrami intake to go on living. The funniest thing is that after ordering your sandwich from the surly guy with a giant hunk of cow on the end of his knife, he ever-so-gently cuts you a couple sample strips to munch on while he’s preparing your sandwich. As if you need more meat! As if you can’t wait the minute it takes to throw the heap of carved brisket onto a couple slices of bread! It’s an odd custom, but one that typifies the Katz’s experience. In fact, Katz’s was the backdrop for the famous “orgasm” scene in When Harry Met Sally. Funny enough, the big-boned woman at the table next to us started to tremble when she got her first bite of her pastrami on rye. The sandwiches themselves really are nothing more than a pile of meat on a slice of carbs, and are expensive for being just that. But a better mound of moo you won’t find, and the experience of eating in a place where President Clinton wolfed a pastrami sandwich, two hot dogs, french fries, a diet ginger ale and a coffee makes this joint one of those irresistible draws that is part of the great fabric of New York City. [MF]
205 E Houston St.