Do you ever resist going somewhere mainly because people keep telling you that you “have” to go? That the food is so much better there than anywhere else? Everyone has heard about Harold’s New York Deli in New Jersey, with their, literally, foot-tall sandwiches and matzo balls that are larger than softballs. They compare it to Katz’s! Can you believe it? I don’t care how big the portions are, how can you compare any place to the number one deli in New York City?

Maybe I’m a little biased. Not Manhattan versus Jersey biased. But, on top of Katz having what everyone knows is the best pastrami on the planet, this is where they did the famous faking it scene in When Harry Met Sally: there’s even a plague on the table where Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal sat. Okay, so maybe it’s not just about the food, which is why I decided Harold’s deserved a chance.

I’d read somewhere that when you walk in you feel like you’re in that movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, but I didn’t really get it. Holy cow! Hearing about and seeing pictures of the portions at Harold’s cannot prepare you for walking down the aisle and having patrons’ meals tower over you. It might even be a little frightening if the smells weren’t so tantalizing that all you can really think about is getting your hands on a menu and ordering one of everything!

Of course, the portions aren’t the only thing a bit daunting at Harold’s. Wait until you see the prices. Those huge corned beef and pastrami sandwiches were $60. The triple decker was a whopping $89! They may look and smell incredible, but when was the last time you remember weighing eating lunch or making your mortgage payment? The good news, once the faintness has passed, is that those sandwiches are meant to feed you and as many of your friends that are lucky enough to be with you. Harold makes sure you have loaves of freshly baked bread and a generous (surprise!) portion of slightly sweet and delicious coleslaw, as well as unlimited access to what is billed as “the world’s largest pickle bar”. If you love pickles, this is heaven! What’s more, there are no extra plate fees or upcharges for sharing. By the time you split the bill, not only will you be happily full and satisfied, but you will likely pay less than what you did some place that didn’t come anywhere close to being as good.

I guess on everyone’s first time, the pastrami (always my personal favorite) or corned beef just has to be ordered. How can you have regrets about ordering something that is so tender, so juicy and full of flavor that it simply melts in your mouth? Normally, you couldn’t. But Harold’s isn’t your normal place. The desserts, which are beyond huge, are said to be wonderful, and they certainly look it. The pancakes and homemade cheese blintzes are going to call to me until I find the chance to get there for breakfast. I adore BLTs and cannot wait to try Harold’s, which looks like it must have at least a pound of bacon on it. Even the matzo ball soup looks delicious, and I have never really been a fan.

Listen, to me: I sound like all of those people saying that you “have” to try Harold’s. Guess what? They were right.

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