Iconic Delis To Try in New York City

No items found.

Alright, sandwich savants and deli devotees, it's time to trade in your lunchbox routine for a rambunctious romp through the city that does delis like no other — the one, the only, New York City!

The Big Apple isn't only about skyscrapers, Broadway shows, and taxicab confessions. It's also the Deli Capital of the World, where slicing, dicing, and sandwich-piling are nothing short of a performance art.

From towering pastrami on rye that would make your bubbe kvell to gourmet creations that take the humble sandwich to stratospheric heights, NYC’s deli scene is about as diverse and bustling as the city itself. 

And yes, you’ll even find mouthwatering plant-based options that could turn even the most devout carnivore into a veggie venerator.

So whether you're a seasoned sandwich snob or a curious newcomer looking to dip your toes (or rather, your taste buds) into the world of deli delights, grab your appetite and put on your most forgiving pants. We're about to embark on a whirlwind tour of the best delis New York City has to offer. 

This is one flavorful journey you'll want to savor – one bite at a time.

1. Katz's Deli

First on our list, we’re taking a time-honored trip to Katz's Delicatessen on the Lower East Side, an absolute institution in the NYC deli scene. 

Established in 1888, this old-world Jewish deli has seen it all, from waves of immigrants shaping the city's culture to Hollywood stars filming iconic scenes. Remember "I'll have what she's having” from When Harry Met Sally? Yep, that was Katz’s.

When you step through the doors of Katz's, it's like stepping into a bygone era where the art of the roast beef sandwich, the cheesecake, and the Jewish deli experience are sacred. 

The star of the show? Their legendary pastrami on rye. 

Hand-carved, melt-in-your-mouth pastrami, piled high between slices of rye bread so fresh, you'll want to write a love song about it — something some New Yorker has probably secretly done in their head at some point. Slather on some mustard, and you have a sandwich that makes you feel like home. Before you know it, you’ll have ordered their famous matzoh ball soup and black & white cookie to go. 

For those of you who plant your flag on Veggie Island, don't fret. The meat-free options here are as well-crafted as their carnivorous counterparts. So what are you waiting for? Come hungry, leave happy, and remember, at Katz's, you're not just a customer; you're family.

Our pick: Dive headfirst into the pastrami on rye, but don’t forget to explore their vegetarian options too.

2. Russ & Daughters

Get ready because our next stop is a hop, skip, and a bagel toss away. Welcome to Russ & Daughters, a century-old institution owned and operated by four generations of the Russ Family. Located in the Lower East Side, this legendary deli has been serving up mouthwatering lox and schmear on bagels since 1914.

Walking into Russ & Daughters is like walking into a foodie’s fairytale, where your happily-ever-after is written in cream cheese and delicately sliced smoked fish. Whether you're a fan of traditional Nova lox or want to shake things up with smoked sable or sturgeon, your perfect bagel topping awaits you here.

Not a fish fan? No problemo. Russ & Daughters caters to all palates, offering a variety of vegetarian-friendly options. From the freshest fruit spreads to the most tantalizing tofu concoctions, they've got you covered.

Brace yourself for a true NYC experience at Russ & Daughters, where the bagels are chewy, the schmear is creamy, and the memories are as sweet as their homemade rugelach.

Our pick: The Classic — a bagel with Nova Scotia salmon, cream cheese, tomato, onions, and capers. For the veggie squad, try their Egg and Onion — scrambled eggs with sautéed onions, on a bagel of your choice. 

3. Mile End Delicatessen

Next on our edible expedition is Mile End Delicatessen, a trendy hot spot that's bringing a big slice of Montreal right into the heart of NYC. At Mile End, they're not just making sandwiches — they're creating international peace treaties between bread slices. Think New York swagger meets Canadian cool, all wrapped up in a warm, inviting deli ambiance.

You might be in the Big Apple, but when you step into Mile End, you'll swear you've been teleported to the hippest corner of Montreal. Their claim to fame? Smoked meats that are more lovingly cured than your favorite vintage leather jacket.

For a taste sensation that's straight outta Quebec, dive into their classic Smoked Meat Sandwich — a succulent stack of smoked brisket with a little mustard on rye. It’s a masterpiece worthy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

For the plant-powered peeps out there, fear not! Mile End serves up some of the most delectable veggie sandwiches this side of the border. With options like their veggie poutine and vibrant salads, you won't miss the meat for a New York minute,

Our pick: Go all out with the Smoked Meat Sandwich. Or, for our veggie visionaries, try the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich – it’s crunchy, it’s tangy, it's all kinds of wonderful.

4. 2nd Avenue Deli

Hold onto your bagels and lox, deli darlings, because we're venturing into the heart of Manhattan to pay homage to a place where the matzo ball soup is a legend and the knishes are downright knosh-worthy. Welcome to the 2nd Ave Kosher Deli, a shining jewel in the city's deli crown, where every bite tells a story and every meal feels like a family reunion.

Originally located on the Lower East Side's 2nd Avenue (hence the name), this beloved deli is now serving up nostalgia in Murray Hill and on the Upper East Side. Their secret? Traditional recipes passed down through generations, served up with a side of classic NYC sass.

If you're craving a hearty sandwich, you're in luck! From corned beef to pastrami, 2nd Ave Deli knows how to stack 'em high and serve 'em hot. But don't overlook their Matzo Ball Soup: It's like a warm hug in a bowl, and rumor has it; it can cure just about anything.

For those of you on Team Veggie, there's plenty to salivate over here, too. From stuffed cabbage to their swoon-worthy potato pancakes, there's no shortage of meat-free options.

Our pick: Step up to the plate with the Corned Beef Sandwich or warm your soul with a bowl of their famous Matzo Ball Soup. Veggie virtuosos, get ready to fall head over heels for their Potato Pancakes. Trust us; they’re life-changing! Whether you’re in Midtown or the UES, you know where to go. 

5. Pastrami Queen

Looking for an eatery that serves up the old-school deli delights you crave? Us too. That’s why we love the Pastrami Queen (formerly the Pastrami King). Since 1956, this spot (originally in Williamsburg) has been serving kosher meats, hot and cold, sliced, ready to make your day a bit better. 

It has storefronts on the Upper West Side and Upper East of Manhattan, so no matter which side of Central Park you’re on, you have options. It’s open seven days a week, but you should probably head there now to try the pastrami sandwich that Anthony Bourdain himself called “the real deal.”

Our pick: Their World Famous Hot Pastrami Sandwich with a side of onion rings and fried knish. 

6. David’s Brisket House

Let’s talk Jewish comfort foods for a moment. Brisket. You can order one pound of this deli’s name-sake brisket, get a brisket beef sandwich or in a corn beef sandwich, or done up in a cheesesteak — all at David’s Brisket House. Leave room for the Reuben sandwich, though, and the coconut cake. David’s combines Eastern European recipes with New York halal style for a truly magical combo. 

Our pick: The Pastrami and Brisket Sandwich with Dynamite Fries (steak fries with melted cheese and, ofc, brisket meat gravy)

Wrapping Up

Well, there you have it, sandwich savants and deli dilettantes: a whirlwind tour of some of the most drool-worthy delis that the Big Apple has to offer, from the East Village to Brooklyn and beyond. 

From traditional staples like Katz's and Second Avenue Deli to innovative newcomers like Mile End, these NYC delis are serving up more than just spectacular sandwiches — they're dishing out experiences that you won't find anywhere else on the planet.

So whether you're a pastrami aficionado, a bagel buff, a corned beef connoisseur, or a devotee of all things veggie, there's a deli out there in NYC with your name on it. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your appetite and hit the streets for brunch, lunch, or an afternoon latke. It's time to turn these deli dreams into delicious realities.

Remember, in the world of NYC delis, there are no rules. Mix it up. Try something new. And above all, don't forget to savor the journey … one heavenly bite at a time.



Katz's Deli

Russ & Daughters

Mile End Deli

2nd Ave Deli

Pastrami Queen

David's Brisket House

Want More? My Tips & Tricks!