Sep 27 2009

Katz’s Deli and Jim’s Steaks — 09.26.2009

NEW YORK, New York — To finish off our trip up North for Frenchie’s baptism, we headed over to one-of-two, sad to say, tourist traps: Katz’s Deli.  Although the ‘tourist trap’ label is a bit harsh, modern television media and food programming turn them into those.  Best kept secrets become a melting pot of annoying people-traffic.  But there is an upside.  In their purest form, places like Katz’s, Ben’s Chili Bowl in DC and Pat’s in Philly are all tributes to awesome, O.G. throwback architecture and culture.  It’s not your typically wanna-be chain restaurant that’s hired the crew from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to design the joint.  We’re talking blood-n-sweat, Mom-n-Pop shops who have built their reputations over several decades.  It’s definitely worth experiencing at least once, even though crowds–myself included in those crowds–can spoil things a bit.

My brother Paul discovered Katz’s from Food Network show and recommended that we try out their famous kosher sandwiches.  The food is pretty good, the wait-time and crowds are absolutely not.  If you decide to head there, do not sit in the back area towards the right if you intend to have someone wait on you.  Sit in the main eating area.  Sitting in the back (next to the bathrooms) requires you to go to the front and grab your food.  Not a big deal, but it sucked that we gave up good seats and wait service in the front.  Sitting where we were did buy us relief from the hoards of chair-bumping tourists!  I had a pastrami sandwich. Rating (7.75/10)

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PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania — The last leg of the trip brought us to the City of Brotherly Love.  Yes, that’s right, we hit up Jim’s Steaks to compare it to our other beloved tourist trip, Pat’s King of Steaks, or Pat’s for short.  Before we got into the city we couldn’t imaging anyone else lining up to eat there given that it was pouring outside.  We were wrong.  The line had us waiting for around thirty minutes just to sample our first non-Pat’s sandwich.  The chefs were great to photograph as they played along with my attempts to covertly capture them in action.  So, what can I say about the steaks?  The meat was a bit too chopped up (almost minced) for my taste, but it was definitely good.  I’d highly recommend trying it out if you’re into the comparison thing.  I’m still a Pat’s loyalist, but you know, sometimes you need to see what the competition is all about.  Well, I guess this begs the question, how good is Gino’s?  I may stay away from this one.  That’s like me going for the Cowboys.  Rating (7.5/10).