Our second day in New York was one I was really looking forward to. The big plans of the day were a Letterman taping, but before that, we needed to find lunch. We were both still pretty exhausted and chose to sleep in a little. We needed to be at the Ed Sullivan Theater by 1:00 to pick up our tickets, so I wanted to find something somewhat close for lunch.
The Carnegie Deli is a New York landmark. It’s on 7th Avenue between 54th and 55th Streets. The business dates back to the 1930’s when it was opened next to Carnegie Hall. The outside of the building has a long red awning and there’s a neon sign spelling out the letters in the Carnegie name.
J and I trudged through the rain after getting off a subway stop right around the corner. When you enter the deli, there is an active deli counter immediately to your left and a cash register immediately to your right. You then walk down a long hallway to get to the hostess. She then pointed us through the first dining room and down another hall where a second hostess picked us up and took us to a table for six in this back dining room area.
All of the tables in this room were six tops and I’m pretty sure, if it was busy, the wouldn’t hesitate sitting four more people we didn’t know at our table. As it was, the deli was busy, but not busting at the seams, so we didn’t have to share space with strangers.
The walls of the deli are covered in autograph pictures. A lot of famous comedians and other celebrities have made the Carnegie Deli regular stomping grounds and most leave a headshot with an autograph to grace the walls. The table we were sitting at had a view of a television screen that was showing movies about how their meats and cheesecakes are made. It really made J want a slice of cheesecake.
I was really concerned about what J was going to eat, but she told me in advance that it would be ok and she would find something. That something was a little harder to find because the menu is so big and overwhelming. She was just going to settle for a cheese sandwich because she couldn’t find any ham. When she told me what she was looking for, I found it in the corner of the menu kind of hidden. Just as the waitress was coming back to take our order, she settled on the Virginia Baked Ham. The sandwhich is a large, large serving of baked ham between two slices of bread. The sandwich was so much more than she could eat and unfortunately, we weren’t going back to our hotel any time soon, so taking the extra wasn’t an option. She said it was good and she enjoyed it, but I know she was just keeping me happy. It really wasn’t her thing, but at the same time, she was happy to eat there just because it was the Carnegie Deli.
There was no doubt in my mind what I was ordering before we ever sat down. I wanted the Pastrami. My sandwich was just as big if not bigger than J’s. It was piled high with home made pastrami. The sandwich was served warm and juice from the meat soaked the bread. It was delicious, but hard to handle. The meat was so good, I just started picking up and eating it like that. It was sooooo good.
Our bill was expensive. There’s a minimum charge per person of $12.50 and each sandwich pretty much covered that. The bill for both of us with drinks was a little over $30 before tip. When you think about how much food you get, that’s really not horrible, but neither of us even came close to finishing our sandwich and even if we could have agreed on one, we would have had to order something else to get to that per person minimum. Paying is done at the cash register back by the door, so we pulled out a few singles for tip and went to pay the bill where and only cash is accepted there.
The Carnegie Deli was a great New York experience. I thought the food was fantastic, but a little pricey. J was happy to eat in such a legendary place, but wasn’t super wild about the meat overload. We would have liked to have tried the cheesecake, but we were so stuffed it was going to have to wait. You know there’s no way we would leave New York without getting cheesecake though…..