I’ve passed by Katz’s Delicatessen dozens of times over the years while striding down Houston toward the East River for a run, but never sat down for a proper pastrami sandwich until my latest jaunt to the big city.
The Astronomer and I, along with our friend Miho, Cousin Jackie, and Jackie’s boyfriend Aaron, descended upon this New York City institution (est. 1888) for an early Saturday dinner. The crowd wasn’t too robust at this hour, which proved to be a good thing for this group of Katz’s newbies because things work a little differently ’round here…
We were each handed a paper ticket as we walked through the front door. The placards hanging from the ceiling directed us to the various ordering counters. There was a separate queue for each course—appetizers, sandwiches, desserts, and drinks. While this somewhat archaic and chaotic ordering system worked fine for us, it was nice to know that there were a few seats reserved in the dining room for full table service if need be.
As soon as I made my way to the front of the line, my sandwich was constructed right before my eyes. Best of all were the scraps of pastrami that the sandwich artist passed my way to make the wait a tastier one. No cash was exchanged at this point—just a scribble on my ticket and I was set to find a seat.