Looking for the true NY Deli experience? Look no further than Second Avenue down in the old Yiddish Theatre district. The Second Avenue Deli has been serving great deli food for decades (Kosher too) and is the perfect place for those interested in the real thing. They also offer some fine pictures from the Yiddish theatre, where many Hollywood actors and actresses had their start.
Favorite Dish: I love the Corned Beef and Pastrami combo with mustard. Just the right amount of taste and not too fatty.
You can't very well go to New York City and not go to a Deli. If there is anything more synonymous with The City than pizza or bagels, it has to be the institution of the New York Deli. This is where the New Country topped the Old Country. My wife who is from Germany did a little research and pastrami once was popular in parts of Europe and surely early Europeans were the ones who perfected this art of meat curing on this side of the pond. Try to find the stuff in Europe now and no one will even know what you are talking about unless of course, they have been to New York City. As with all venerable NYC institutions, there are many opinions as to which one is best. I will have to admit, location played a factor in which one we opted for but we were not sorry for our choice once settling into our meals at 2nd Avenue Deli. Now, great deli food does not come cheaply so expect to pay what may seem a king's ransom for a sandwich but one you will not forget anytime soon.
Favorite Dish: We were with friends for this meal and everything that came out was excellent and big. The pastrami sandwich ($14.95) was to die for as was the corned beef sandwich ($13.75), both piled mile high, tender, juicy, and tasty. Four normal people could make a lunch out of just the two sandwiches but again, how often are you in the city so why stop there? My friend had to have his matzoh ball soup ($6.95) which was a virtual cauldron of broth with a softball-sized matzoh ball and a meal in itself. We also had the chopped liver appetizer ($9.95) which again was meal size. We went overboard by ordering potato pancakes ($13.95) which were delicious but certainly beyond not necessary. Needless to say, we walked out of there stuffed tighter than the sandwiches were with meat.
It's a classic NYC deli with nosy waitresses and a boisterous atmosphere not conducive for a romantic date. That's okay, romance is not exactly on your mind after downing one of these meals, guaranteed to make dinner something for the distant future, not the usual few hours later.
UPDATE 8/15/08: HAS MOVED FROM SECOND AVENUE TO 33RD STREET BETWEEN LEXINGTON AND 3RD. I HAVE NOT YET BEEN TO THE NEW LOCATION.
It has been years since I have been to this deli. I had the cholent. That was a first for me. It was good, but next time I plan on sharing the mouth watering corned beef sandwich.
This place has a cozy atmosphere, even if crowded. It is kosher, but not shomer shabbos as it is open all day Saturday.
For city search reviews:
I posted a question in the New York City forum asking what's the best deli in the city and no deli got more thumbs up than this one. The portions are enormous, but as delis go, the prices are high. Unless you're a linebacker for the New York Giants, you'll be fine if you split your meal between two people.
A funny thing happened here. The place was busy as I imagine it always is. The waitress asked if we were ready to order and we said yes, but then my friend started asking the waitress all sorts of questions. "So, which do you like better?" etc. The waitress said that it didn't matter what she liked. It's more important what the customer likes. Then, she just bailed on our table and said, "I'll come back when you're ready." I think my friend Jennifer was offended, but to me, it was no big deal. The waitress was being honest and actually made me crack up, but sometimes the perception of New Yorkers as hurried and rude comes from incidents like this.
Favorite Dish: I ordered a turkey and pastrami on wheat, which was enormous and good, but next time I'll stick with just the pastrami. The turkey was good, but I've had plenty of good turkey before. The pastrami, on the other hand, was melt in your mouth, slap your mama good.
The food just cannot be beat!! I personally love the hot pastrami. they give you enough to feed an army, but somehow you manage to finish it. It is that good.
The waiters will tell you what to order. Take their advice. They know.
Try the corned beef on rye (NEVER white.) Try the matzoh ball soup or the mushroom barley soup.
The chopped liver is "to die for." But then, so is everything else.
Favorite Dish: The sidewalk out front is like the Hollywood Wlak of Fame, but this one is for the stars of the Yiddish Theater.
The back room at the deli is a shrine to the famous Yiddish actress, Molly Picon.
The Second Avenue Deli, run for generations by the Lebewohl family, is one of the last remnants of the Yiddish theater district. It's also home to divine matzo ball soup and pastrami sandwiches so overstuffed that they violate building codes.
Favorite Dish: A bowl of sour and half-sour pickles accompanies each meal, which you can wash down with a can of Dr. Brown's--try a black-cherry or cream soda. Deliveries and a mail-order catalog are available.