The other day a friend and I became ravenously hungry for a really good Rueben sandwich, a treat that is difficult to find here in the Philadelphia suburbs. Okay, you can get a good one locally, but not a really, really, superlatively good one. One that just oozes Russian dressing, melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and plenty of sliced corned beef — all between freshly baked rye bread.
So we headed over to New York City, to its Lower East Side, and thence to Katz’s Deli on East Houston Street. Long a favorite of both New Yorkers and in-the-know visitors, Katz’s has been at that location since 1888 and is widely considered to be among the city’s best sandwich joints. A visit there is a real experience, one that is quite rare in this age of chain eateries whose only interest is the bottom line.
Not that Katz’s is especially cheap. It isn’t. Nor is it fancy or even comfortable. Upon entering the premises you are handed a ticket, which you present at each food station as you assemble your meal. On this is kept a running total, which you present to the cashier on the way out, making payment there.
During World War II Katz’s advertised with the phrase “Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army,” a tradition they still honor with free shipping to overseas U.S. military addresses including Iraq and Afghanistan. Another catch phrase from the 1950s became part of a popular Tom Lehrer song with the words “Remember Mommy, I’m off to get a Commie, so send me a salami, and try to smile somehow.”
Well, we didn't get a commie, but we did smile after sharing that delicious Reuben (way too big for one person!) and washing it down with two large beers.
The top photo is by Ernesto Andrade via Wikipedia Creative Commons. The other snaps are by me.
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