Tuesday, June 18, 2013

You'll Want What She's Having: Lower East Side Foodie Walk

In just a few hours in a short block of East Houston, you can experience the taste and tradition of New York.
In the famous scene from "When Harry Met Sally," Sally fakes the Big O in Katz's Delicatessen, prompting the nearby diner to declare that she'll have the same. On a rainy weekday lunch hour, you can experience a few pleasurable eateries on East Houston, starting at Katz's.  Katz's has been around since 1888, and although it serves your typical monochromatic deli food, seasoned veterans will urge you not to order anything but pastrami, corned beef, and pickles for your first visit. Obviously this is not the place for those with cholesterol concerns, but the ambiance alone is worth the trip. Amidst the crowded tables are signs designating where Sally and Harry sat hang alongside signs urging you to "Send a Salami to your boy in the Army."  Every person who enters the deli gets a ticket. 

Even if you don't order, if you don't have a ticket when you leave, you have to pay $50. Rules
are rules, and you can see why Larry David never lacked material for Seinfeld.  I recommend dining with a group and sharing a couple of sandwiches, pickles [worth the visit alone], and celery soda [helps with digestions, and you will need it].  

Although you will be stuffed at this point, to continue on your Foodie Walk, exit Katz's and go a few doors down to Russ & Daughters, which has been a New York institution since 1914. This small place becomes incredibly crowded on the weekends, so if you lack patience and tolerance, go during the week.  R&D will supply the ingredients for your NY-styled breakfast of bagels, schmear, and lox.  Here you can get smoked salmon, lox, and gravlax, along with smoked fish spread, pickled herring, rollmops, and other types of smoked or pickled fish. They also have different types of cream cheese to complete your breakfast smorgasbord.  

By now you are probably wondering why we did not get knish at Katz's to complete the Eastern European food theme on the tour. Katz's has fried knishes, which some people might prefer. However, to give your digestion a rest and tastebuds a treat, travel a few doors down from R&D to Yonah Shimmel Knishery.  Yonah Shimmel started in 1910 and has quite the eclectic array of baked knish, including sweet potato, mushroom and spinach, cherry and cheese, kasha, and BBQ for the summer. 

All three places have old photos depicting the history of the establishment and New York, which adds to the flavor and tradition.