The Carnegie Deli Experience

During the summer of 2008, my friend Matt and I decided to have a meal at the world famous Carnegie Deli. Popular with locals and tourists alike, we were lucky to find the open seating early that Saturday morning.

The walls inside the deli are lined with autographed pictures of the many celebrities who have eaten at the deli over the years. It is an amazing and diverse collection of people, and while a large portion of them have some tie to New York, there are also quite a few internationally renown personalities, too. 

The deli opened in 1937, and is now run by the third generation of owners, currently being run by Sandy Levine, the son-in-law of Milton Parker, the famous co-owner since 1976, who wrote a book about the history of the delicatessen. 

The menu at the deli is diverse, being famous for both it’s kosher options and traditional Jewish fare, and also it’s non-kosher options. I opted for a traditional breakfast of bacon and eggs. They are also famous for their cheesecake, which the deli does a brisk business shipping their cheesecakes all over the world. Being around 9 A.M., I wasn’t quite ready to weigh myself down with the their infamous one-pound potion of cheesecake.
Despite the early morning, Matt was feeling more adventurous than me, opting for the “Woody Allen” with over a pound of corned beef on it. One of the most famous aspects of the Carnegie Deli is their portions, and one of the most common phrases associated with the deli is “If you finish your meal, we’ve done something wrong.” Try as he might, Matt was unable to finish the entire sandwich.

The restaurant also does big business in take out and mail order. Being a famous tourist attraction, they sell lots of souvenir . One of the cashiers told me that they are often asked for extra menus or bags, which many people save as keepsakes or give away as souvenirs. 
I’m not always a huge fan of such ‘touristy’ things to do, but I was glad that Matt & I did experience this famous part of New York City history and culture.

The Carnegie Deli’s website is here. It worth a look- just to see all the clever names of their sandwiches.

5 Responses to “The Carnegie Deli Experience”

  1. Kris Koeller says:

    I ate here the other day. This is my favorite of the famous pastrami shops, preferring it over Katz' and 2nd Avenue Deli (which is not on 2nd Avenue). The portions are as ginormous as ever, and it's cash only. Definitely check it out!

  2. eriksmithdotcom says:

    It's quintessential NYC! I love the city, not sure how well I'd do living there, but it is a great place to visit!

  3. Abby says:

    This makes me want to go to NYC! I lived there for five years but have been avoiding a trip there recently, mostly because I don't love working out of our office there. But maybe it's time for a trip…

  4. eriksmithdotcom says:

    This place is unique in that it still does do a lot of business with New Yorkers. I've been to a lot of these tourist hot spots, and they sometimes turn into a 'tourist' only thing, but not Carnegie, and I think that is why it endures so well. 

  5. Kris Koeller says:

    One of my NYC favorites. The portions are outsized, and the campy atmosphere is can be a bit much, but the pastrami is amazing. I like it better than Katz, though I'm sure many would argue that point with me. 

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