Riding the B Line: Pay Homage at the Carnegie Deli

We're riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants and food stores near the subway.

This Week: Carnegie Deli

Our stop last week should have been the last on the B line before transferring to the V and the joys of Queens, but we’re staying on this train for one more stop, efficiency be damned. Get out on 53rd Street and Seventh Avenue and visit the Federal Reserve of deli foods: the one, the almighty Carnegie Deli.

Carnegie Deli

Clockwise from top left, corned-beef hash, pickles, salami-and-egg sandwich.Photo: Melissa Hom

The deli's reputation has suffered: The prices are sky high, and the ridiculously high-piled sandwiches as much conceptual art as food. But the place is still a classic. When we go, we take advantage of its immense, rarely perused menu and get hamishe (homey) Jewish-American classics like matzo brei (a matzo and egg mixture fried up in a pan), salami and egg sandwiches, chicken in a pot, and even the signature pastrami sandwich, but served on a medium that can actually withstand it: a bagel. And what could be better than a mountain of corned-beef hash, made in house and served with fried eggs on top?

Dilute all that food with a glass of celery soda, admire the images of London Lee and Freddie Roman on the walls, and consider dessert. That should take the form of one of the immense cakes that rotate, like circus elephants holding each other’s tails, in a refrigerated rotunda near the cash register. We’ll be in Queens soon enough, eating biryani and the like, but no New York eating tour should neglect this place entirely.