I was 12 years old when I made my first trip to Katz’s Deli. The massive pastrami sandwich was my dad’s treat* and I never thought to look at the price tag. Now I’m all grown up, and the $14.95 sandwich that once helped Meg Ryan fake a public orgasm is almost as far out of my range as she is. Isn’t there a place in this city with decades of history behind it where I can get a delicious pastrami sandwich too big to fit in my mouth for under $10?
That may seem like asking a lot, but the answer is yes. Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop (174 5th Ave., Manhattan–map) is only 80 years old (compared to Katz’s 120), but that’s still some serious history. It’s a seriously old school deli–a long narrow space dominated by a counter, where you can perch on a swivel seat and watch the cooks pile sandwiches impossibly high with meat.
When your pastrami on rye shows up, it’s a challenge to even get mustard on it before cramming it into your face. Once it finally gets there, the bread seems to melt away into the tender, salty slices of meat. And the cost? Just $8.50. The generous bowl of complimentary pickle spears are a great compliment, as are the fat, crispy onion rings for $3.50 if you’re looking to splurge (or give yourself a heart attack).
*Full disclosure: my recent trip to Eisenberg’s, though less expensive, was also my dad’s treat.