Katz's Delicatessen is a kosher style restaurant located at 205 Houston Street on the Lower East Side. The word delicatessen is a portmanteau word invented by Jewish immigrants from the English word delicacy and the Yiddish/German word essen, to eat.
Katz's is most famous for its stuffed Pastrami sandwiches on rye. Pastrami (פּאַסטראָמע) is a popular delicatessen meat usually made from beef brisket spiced with garlic, coriander, black pepper, paprika, cloves, allspice, and mustard seed. Just like corned beef, pastrami was originally created as a way to preserve meat before modern refrigeration.
Pastrami was brought to the United States by Jewish immigrants from the Balkans, and was originally a Turkish dish.
New York’s Sussman Volk is generally credited with producing the first pastrami sandwich in 1887. Volk, a kosher butcher and New York immigrant from Lithuania, claimed he got the recipe from a Romanian friend.
Volk prepared pastrami according to the recipe and served it on sandwiches out of his butcher shop. The sandwich was so popular that Volk converted the butcher shop into a restaurant to sell pastrami sandwiches. Soon enough, Volk had competition. The Iceland brothers opened their pastrami delicatessen in 1888, and not long after partnered with the Katzs, who bought them out in 1892.
Katz's originally stood across the street, but the construction of the subway system necessitated a move in the late 19th Century. The original entrance was on Ludlow Street. Since its founding, it has become world famous among locals and tourists alike for its pastrami sandwiches and hot dogs, both of which are widely considered among New York's best.
Each week, Katz's serves 10,000 pounds of pastrami, 5,000 pounds of corned beef, 2,000 pounds of salami and 12,000 hot dogs. During World War II, Katz's began the tradition of charging a special reduced rate for servicemen's families. Katz's would then ship it's cured meats overseas to U.S. duty stations. It's famous slogan is, "Send a salami to your boy in the Army," which more or less rhymes on the Lower East Side.
Who first put pastrami on rye is unknown, and who added a side of cole slaw is also unknown, but this combination has become the "classic" New York pastrami sandwich. Another variation is the "Rachel," which adds Russian dressing and sauerkraut to the mix, as opposed to a corned beef-based "Reuben."