The return of a Bite Club post can only mean one thing: I recently ate two things that I strongly felt needed to be compared! In an epic match up of the original Katz's Deli in New York vs the upstart Stein's Market and Deli in New Orleans, only one pastrami sandwich on rye could reign supreme!
Katz's on the Lower East Side of Manhattan has been around since 1888. They are famous for pastrami, corned beef, and the orgasm scene from "When Harry Met Sally." While the "I'll have what she's having" line is definitely the quote of the film, Meg Ryan wasn't actually eating a pastrami or corned beef sandwich. Still, I had to go for the good stuff while I was there with my friend Caroline and her friends from Williamsport, PA.
|Pastrami on Rye, Katz's Deli, New York|
The pastrami at Katz's is undoubtedly some of the best I've ever had. The brined beef soaked up all the flavors while the peppercorn rub on the outside left the beef spicy and delicious. Each slab of pastrami is hand carved to order right in front of the customers and then piled high on rye bread. Throw in a little mustard for good measure, and you've got one heck of a sandwich!
On Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans, Stein's Market and Deli is a hot spot for diners looking to get an authentic Jewish Deli style sandwich. Again, I ordered pastrami on rye with a little mustard. Stein's also added some melted cheese to my sandwich. I always have a hard time arguing with that! The pastrami packed a lot of flavor into the thin beef slices while the cheese helped to mellow out the spices from the peppered red meat and the mustard. This was a good sandwich... no, a great sandwich. And I'd go back and eat it again and again when in New Orleans.
|Pastrami on Rye, Stein's Deli, New Orleans|
But, with that being said, Stein's pastrami truly presented itself as a distant cry from the mouth-watering succulence of Katz's deli. Katz's thick-cut to order, tender slabs of beef had so much juice and flavor that it can easily put people into proper food comas. It didn't need cheese to reach a desired mixture of tastes and textures because the pastrami could speak for itself. I applaud Stein's for trying to bring a taste of the New York deli to Louisiana. The store is great and the sandwiches are terrific. However, do yourself a favor and try not to compare it too critically to the granddaddy up north. Katz's Deli, while touristy, is overcrowded for good reason. And locals flock there too. Quite simply, it is just that damn good.