Katz’s Delicatessen

Art & Culture | History | Restaurants

The legend. The institution. The pastrami. The fake “Big O.” It’s all here.

Katz's Deli Sandwich Lower East Side

About Katz’s Delicatessen

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • Katz’s is always there. No matter what happens, you can look across Houston Street and see the famous, eternal sign. Maybe you haven’t been in 30 years. Maybe you went in last night. No matter where you are, no matter what you’re doing, they’re slicing pastrami at Katz’s, and have been since 1888.
  • But it wasn’t always called Katz’s.
    • It started as Iceland Brothers until Willy Katz came on the scene in 1903.
    • Then, it was Iceland & Katz until 1910 when Willy’s cousin Benny signed on. The duo bought out Iceland and renamed the establishment Katz’s.
  • It used to be across the street.
    • Katz’s moved to its present corner in 1917, when the subway came rumbling through.
    • They used to keep barrels of meat and pickles outside in a vacant lot next door, until they hit it big with a salami slogan, and expanded.
    • What, you ask, is a salami slogan? May we present: “Send a Salami to Your Boy in Army.”
  • How do you fight fascism? With fermented meat!
    • During WWII, three sons of Katz’s owners served overseas, and Katz’s sent care packages to them. The practice became a company slogan, and Katz’s became a veritable wartime salami distribution facility. Soon, GIs stationed all over the world were chowing down on Katz’s salami.
  • You can still send a Salami to Your Boy (or Girl!!) in the Army. Katz’s ships to all US Military addresses.
  • They also deliver to civilian addresses these days.  How do you reach the most famous deli in America? Call 1-800-4-Hot-Dog.
  • The vibe at Katz’s is bustling and cafeteria-like, and the service can sometimes be brusque.  It’s part of the charm.
  • Get: Meat.  Pastrami, Corned Beef, Brisket.  It is all terrific not to mention massive.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: Don’t Lose Your Ticket!!
    • When you walk into Katz’s, you are given a ticket. You need to keep it with you the whole time, as everything you order will be written on the ticket.  At the end of your meal, you present the ticket to the cashier to pay.
    • If you lose the ticket, they’ll charge you a hefty $50, but not before a hard look for the lost slip of paper.
    • Think you threw yours away? Katz’s employees have been known to don gloves and go through the trash looking for tickets!

Carpe City Trivia

I'll have what she's having...

“I’ll have what she’s having.” This was the hilarious statement a woman at a neighboring table made after Meg Ryan’s orgasmic performance in 1989’s When Harry Met Sally.  While Meg’s fake “Big O” might be Katz’s most famous on-screen moment, the deli actually made its silver screen debut in a 1977 Frank Sinatra flick, Contract on Cherry Street.  The titular contract to kill Sinatra’s character was made in Katz’s meat locker!

katz's harry met sally table

One of Katz's most famous signs is a pretty hilarious mistake

Check out the sign on the Ludlow Street side of the building that says, “Katz’s, that’s all!” Here’s why:

    • Katz’s original landlord/part-owner Harry Tarowsky was asked what to put on the sign.
    • He said, “Katz’s, that’s all.” As in “just put Katz’s.” But the sign-maker misunderstood…

Katz's Deli Sign

By: Lucie Levine
Photography by:

Anne Crays & Shutterstock

New York City Tours

Great Places Near Katz’s Delicatessen

Le French Diner Exterior Lower East Side

Le French Diner

A Favorite Cozy Neighborhood Boîte for Quality Casual French

188 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
Russ and Daughters NYC Lower East Side Storefront
Art & Culture

Russ & Daughters

Appetizing Shop Serving New Yorkers Since 1914

179 East Houston Street New York, NY 10002
Rockwood Music Hall Performance
Art & Culture

Rockwood Music Hall

A Favorite Music Venue that went from Listening Room to Record Label

196 Allen St, New York, NY 10002
Una Pizza Neopolitana LES NYC

Una Pizza Napoletana

Small, Simple & Absolutely Delicious Neopolitan Pies

175 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
Arlenes Grocery NYC
Art & Culture

Arlene's Grocery

The Grocery Store that Helped put the LES Music Scene on the Map

95 Stanton St, New York, NY 10002
Bowery Meat Company restaurant meatballs

Bowery Meat Company

Delicious Meat Forward Menu not Limited to Steaks with a Cooler Downtown Vibe than a Traditional Steakhouse

9 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003
Mr Taka Ramen Lower East Side

Mr. Taka

Top-Notch Yet Under the Radar Ramen Spot

170 Allen St, New York, NY 10002
Lil Frankies pizza italian food east village

Lil Frankie's

Rustic East Village Mainstay for Quality Old-School Italian

19 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003
nantucket roof house east village building
Art & Culture

Nantucket Cottage - Roof House

A Unique Slice of Coastal Architecture on an East Village Rooftop

72 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

More Great Walking Tours


Sign up to our monthly e-mail about the latest and greatest places for food, wine art and history

Skip to content