Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Most Obscene Sandwich

The sandwiches at Carnegie Deli are so skyscraper big, so gargantuan, so titanic, so gluttonous, that even if you're the biggest mouth in your neighborhood, you're still gonna get worked trying to finish these abnormally sized sandwiches. The restaurant's motto is "if you CAN finish your meal, then we've done something wrong." We would love to see a Carnegie Deli sandwich eating contest and see if Takeru Kobayashi ("The Tsunami"), the skinny man from Japan that won the Nathan's Famous hot dog eating competition four years in a row, can do the same here.

Photo by Carnegie Deli

Carnegie Deli is probably the most famous deli in New York, if not in the U.S., which is why it's frequented daily by more tourists than New Yorkers. Although it's a tourist fest, if you're in New York, attempting to eat their famous overstuffed sandwich is something you should experience once. Carnegie deli opened in 1937 next to Carnegie Hall and is located on 7th Avenue between 54th & 55th Streets (theatre district and short walking distance to the David Letterman show).

Their tasty and humongous sandwiches include "The Woody Allen" (which consists of corned beef and pastrami) and their famous long john sandwich (which consists of gooseneck liverwurst, onion, and sliced egg). Their cheesecakes are also famous and in equally large proportion to their sandwiches. Carnegie also offers other Jewish food such as matzoh ball soup, gefilte fish, kasha varnishkas, and chopped liver. Please check out their insane menu.

Their most popular sandwich is probably the pastrami sandwich for $13.95. You'll notice half the tourists will be ordering it and then you'll notice their mouths drop in disbelief and semi-horror when they get served the terrifyingly large sandwich. It's comical. People don't even know how to begin eating it. Surprisingly, years ago I was able to eat the entire full portion of the sandwich by myself, followed by the large cheesecake. Granted, I ate my lunch at 3:00 pm and had not eaten all day so I was starving. But I remember that the staff members were shocked that a girl could do that. Advice: there is no way you're gonna fit the sandwich into your mouth, so take half the meat out of the sandwich and eat that by itself, along with the free pickles they serve you, after you've tackled the sandwich. Or if you're not a tourist, take half the meat out and take it home, buy some bread, and you can make sandwiches for several days thereafter.

If you don't want to pay the steep price per person or don't want to get sick trying to eat it all in one sitting (most people can only eat half the sandwich), you have the option to pay $3 for a share fee between two people. We opted for the shared portion this time (due to the cost factor). However, the sandwich will not come out as large as the unshared portion. This photo shows half the shared sandwich we ate. Still large but we probably could have eaten more. Remember, we are piggies.

These "cholesterol free" fries were delicious.

The walls at Carnegie are completely covered with portraits of hundreds of celebrities who've eaten there. We avoided eating here during peak hours so we've never had to wait for a table. But it's always a bustling restaurant and the space is tight and cramped - not a place to have intimate conversations or business talk. Bring cash, that's all they accept. They're open daily from 6:30 am to 4:00 am, including major holidays.

If we had to choose between Carnegie Deli and Katz's Delicatessen, we'd definitely go to Katz's because Katz's sandwiches were more realistically edible, cheaper, and less touristy. But again, if you've never experienced the fear of the Carnegie sandwich, you must do it once in your lifetime. Just buy an antacid on your way back home.