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The Carnegie Deli, 7th Avenue and 55th Street in Midtown West - Open Since 1937 With Multiple Owners - Closed


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On 7/31/2014 at 7:38 PM, DonRocks said:

In what now seems like the 1800s, the Tysons Corner Carnegie Deli was nearly 100% as good as the New York original for several months after it opened (I'm pretty sure it was Leo Steiner's death that initialized its demise - it was later sold and renamed "Carnegie's.") For a short while, it was probably the best deli that has ever been in the DC area, and that includes now. When they first opened, they brought the meat-slicer guy down from New York and everything - the pastrami and corned beef were exactly the same quality and portion-sizes (at least at first). Well, it didn't last long, and there are probably twenty people left in DC who remember, but having just lived in New York a couple years before, I can say that it's absolutely true.

Carnegie Deli's Website - Note: Nobody is claiming that The Carnegie Deli is anything but a shadow of what it was 30 years ago, but it remains important historically.

I remember the Tysons Carnegie fondly and was so upset when it closed.  Having grown up on (and even briefly working in a) New York deli, it was without question the only place around here that ever came close.  While it was horrible for my cholesterol, boy was it good.  We wouldn't split a sandwich because I always wanted to take half home to enjoy the next day.  The only downside was that it looked and felt like an Embassy Suites lobby/restaurant (which it was), rather than like a real deli. 

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I agree with all the accolades for the Tysons Carnegie (I grew up in RI, not NY, but ate a ton of deli as a kid, both meat and dairy, including the legendary New England favorite known as roll beef), but for me the end came before the actual closing. For me the end came when I was told they no longer had the (superlative) chopped liver. That was my go-to order, cholesterol be damned.

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I used to work on West 52 street and we regularly ordered from the Carnegie. We would order a sandwich and a 'side' of rye bread converting what was one tourist sandwich into four 'normal' sandwiches.  When the Carnegie opened in Tysons a few years after I moved from NY to NOVA, i became a regular, but it was funny dealing with the wait staff who had obviously never eaten deli; orders for kiska, kasha varnishkes or anything other than pastrami/corned beef were met with a vacant look and a request that they would check with the kitchen to see if they had it. Once when I ordered tongue, the waitress said "are you sure you want that" - with the same disbelieving look I get from the Chinese waitress when I order jelly fish salad.

Not to derail the thread, I have tried Altmans and agree that Brooklyn's is better. I have not tried DGS yet (yes, I know its a shonda :-)

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I used to work on West 52 street and we regularly ordered from the Carnegie. We would order a sandwich and a 'side' of rye bread converting what was one tourist sandwich into four 'normal' sandwiches.  When the Carnegie opened in Tysons a few years after I moved from NY to NOVA, i became a regular, but it was funny dealing with the wait staff who had obviously never eaten deli; orders for kiska, kasha varnishkes or anything other than pastrami/corned beef were met with a vacant look and a request that they would check with the kitchen to see if they had it. Once when I ordered tongue, the waitress said "are you sure you want that" - with the same disbelieving look I get from the Chinese waitress when I order jelly fish salad.

Not to derail the thread, I have tried Altmans and agree that Brooklyn's is better. I have not tried DGS yet (yes, I know its a shonda :-)

You didn't say how you feel the Tysons' Carnegie fared vis-a-vis the NYC Carnegie! (I'll split the threads; don't worry about hijacking this one.)

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You didn't say how you feel the Tysons' Carnegie fared vis-a-vis the NYC Carnegie! (I'll split the threads; don't worry about hijacking this one.)

The menu at the one in New York was much more extensive and the ambiance - down to the communal tables and brusque waiters - was obviously more authentically New York  than the one in Tysons. (duh!) But, as time went on, the Carnegie felt more touristy than authentically NY deli. The Carnegie I always want to go to is the one that Broadway Danny Rose went to, but it no longer exists.  BTW, I always preferred (in order) 2nd Ave Deli, Katz's and Pastrami Queen in Queens. The reason I ate so often at the Carnegie is that it was down the street from my office and we had a house account there. I can't even imagine how many TV and record deals at CBS (where I worked) were sealed over take out from the Carnegie

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When I was in my early teens I went to Manhattan on a trip from NoVa and we ate at the Carnegie Deli. At the time it may have been my favorite meal of my life -- a revelatory hot pastrami on rye. And I was a huge Woody Allen fan so eating at a spot immortalized in one of his films was thrilling.

When The Tysons Carnegie opened my parents took me there for a birthday dinner. As far as I can recall the quality of the pastrami was equal to that of the NY original. At some point we stopped going, presumably due to the quality falling. I haven't been back to the original since the 80s, and based on reports, I have no desire to.

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I haven't been back to the original since the 80s, and based on reports, I have no desire to.

No, you don't. It's one step above Stage Deli at this point. And the bathrooms were *filthy* the last time I went.

Perhaps more than any other restaurant, the changes at Carnegie Deli have affected me. When I lived there, I was 23-24, New York City was a brand new mountain to climb, Carnegie Deli was an institution, and it became engrained in my mind that it would never change. And boy has it changed.

I'm very, very glad to see that others remember the quality at Tysons Corner being pretty much equal to New York. It was a huge menu, and I'm sure that some dishes weren't, but the corned beef and pastrami, yes.

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I recall the excitement when Carnegie Deli opened in Tysons and I would take my son there for lunch- as a former NY er it was hard to believe that there had been not a decent deli in DC-

Yes it was short lived but darn good while it lasted.

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Was hanging in Central Park on Saturday with my wife and daughter.  After taking our daughter on the carousel, the sky grew black and it started to thunder.  Next came small drops of rain.  Luckily my wife was smart and had umbrellas.  After a quick google search I determined that we were close to Carnegie Deli.  After a quick walk, we were seated immediately (I guess it was a good off time to get there).  We ordered our daughter her first egg cream (chocolate offcourse).  We told her she was getting a special drink.  After the first sip she was hooked (it was a little sweet for my taste).  I had a pastrami sandwich (what's the point of the floppy bread?) .  Daughter had a hot dog, wife egg salad sandwich.  We shared fries.  Other than the experience, the food was kind of a let down.  The fries were undercooked and the pastrami had almost no taste.  I have eaten at Carnegie in the past and this time it didn't live up to the hype.  For my money, I would much rather head to the LES and hit up Katz's.

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On 9/30/2016 at 11:09 AM, pras said:

Closing at the end of the year "for good".  I wonder what the real story is.  My guess is that the building is being sold for somewhere in the "Billion Dollar Range" (before anyone yells at me, I am being sarcastic about the price).

That does seem to be the prevailing theory as to why they're closing down.  Thankfully, Russ & Daughters own their property, so no danger of that happening to them!

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On 10/5/2016 at 3:05 PM, thessaly said:

That does seem to be the prevailing theory as to why they're closing down.  Thankfully, Russ & Daughters own their property, so no danger of that happening to them!

So what is the prevailing theory?

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On 9/30/2016 at 11:09 AM, pras said:

Closing at the end of the year "for good".  I wonder what the real story is.  My guess is that the building is being sold for somewhere in the "Billion Dollar Range" (before anyone yells at me, I am being sarcastic about the price).

Its a big loss.  I haven't been there in decades with one of my cousins but he was their outside tax accountant/auditor and probably still is, though it hasn't been a point of conversation in years either...so I'm not sure.  Of all the clients in all the world...going to Carnegie, having the staff know you, possibly getting a discount (I'm not sure) it was impressive on top of the pastrami.  A pastrami/corned beef big shot, if I say so myself.

I didn't go there often, but we are speaking humongous delicious pastrami and corned beef on top of other old world delicacies.  Big big loss.  On top of being a tourist attraction it was a very significant restaurant in that part of NY City and deservedly so.

For some reason I hardly went to the Tysons location, not sure why not as I enjoyed it the few times I was there. 

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Screenshot 2016-12-27 at 13.33.04.png

I want this new generation to know just how much Leo Steiner meant to Carnegie Deli (how many deli owners who died 30 years ago have a Wikipedia entry?), and just how much Carnegie Deli meant to New York City.

Jan 1, 1988 - "Leo Steiner, 48, Owner of Carnegie Deli; Known for Wit" by Bryan Miller on nytimes.com

Honest to goodness, some of their sandwiches, like "The Melo" (sorry, Dave) really were *this big*:

melosandwich2.jpg

And who could forget their Wall of Fame? (This is only a small portion of it):

walloffame.jpg <--- This is a big picture, so I made it a thumbnail.

Now *this* is a line!

deliline.jpg

If Clemson wasn't playing in the in the Fiesta Bowl New Year's Eve, I might choose to watch "Broadway Danny Rose" out of respect for this institution.

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4 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Honest to goodness, some of their sandwiches, like "The Melo" (sorry, Dave) really were *this big*:

melosandwich2.jpg

I remember watching a profile on the place, probably on the food network years ago, and the owner was bragging about how they didn't have any scales!

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35 minutes ago, pras said:

I remember watching a profile on the place, probably on the food network years ago, and the owner was bragging about how they didn't have any scales!

Scales to weigh the meat, or scales to weigh themselves?!

In all honesty, The Melo is larger than any sandwich I've ever seen there. I've had some that were close, but never quite *that* tall - this is over a foot high!

But quantity aside, I want young people (in their 20s and 30s) to know that Carnegie Deli *really was* as good as any deli in New York - people had favorites (2nd Avenue, Katz's, etc.), but they were peers, and Carnegie was *always* in the conversation; when I last went (March of this year), Carnegie Deli was still better than Stage Deli (which was so bad when I went a few years ago that I never went again), but it's no longer at the top level. I *promise* the next generation of diners that it was - it really was. This is not some "delusional, old-man, reminiscence"; it really was that good. 

One of the reasons they may be closing is that it might be cheaper to close than to clean the bathrooms.

Interestingly, I cannot find a single picture of Leo Steiner - he was *all over the place*, with that come-on-in, mouth-wide-open, Richard Simmons-like, New York-Jewish grin of his, and this was before the internet became popular! The man was a legend.

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Don--As you said, it is really personal preference, but for me, it is Katz's as number 1, and Carnegie a close second.  2nd Avenue hasn't been the same since they moved.  I like the cafeteria style at Katz's and the fact that the meat is hand cut instead of using a machine.  I also like the grit of the LES, although that even isn't what it used to be.  

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Passed by there a couple of days ago -- lines out the door as you might expect.  One night years ago I dropped in (I think it was during the 1992 Democratic Convention) and Jackie Mason was holding court at the next table.  Everything tasted a little more New Yorkish that night. In '88 I was doing an event for the Dukakis campaign and staying down the street from the Carnegie. Every night I'd get a pastrami sandwich (a "pistol") and eat half for dinner and then the other half for breakfast. Those were some big -- and delicious -- sandwiches. 

Oh, well.  RIP.

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Carnegie Deli was a great institution. 20 years ago when I lived in Manhattan, I used to eat there a few times a year and it was always good. Since it was closing, I made a final pilgrimage in mid-December with a bunch of co-workers. The line was down the block around lunch time so we got carry out. It was still nice being in the cramped space with all of the celeb pictures for one more time while we waited for our food. We went for the tried and true classics - corned beef on rye, pastrami on rye, jar of full sour pickles, matzo ball soup, coleslaw, and cheesecake.  One of the best work lunches in a long time (and normally we go to pretty nice places ;-) The corned beef was slice thin and still steamed a ton to almost melt in your mouth. The pastrami was similar with some good spice and a bit of fat. Both, very different from DGS Deli, which I actually prefer that slices thick and has more flavorful meat and better slicing.  Rye bread was fine, nothing special. The pickles were freaking good! I'm a real pickle guy and these were very good - nothing fancy but great sour kick to cut the richness of the meat. Matzo ball soup was good - although probably biased since it was utterly freezing that day. Still had the giant, extra fluffy matzo balls that I like (others like my wife's family swear by stiff/hard ones - but they are meshugenah in this regard).  Coleslaw was fine - nothing special but good with the corned beef to add some diversity to the simple deli mustard.  The one mistake even though I asked the deli guy 3 times was there was no Russian dressing included for the always great meat, coleslaw, Russian dressing combo. So only a B+ for service ;-) The cheesecake was super rich, dense and only ok. You can make or buy better from lots of places. Per the closing note, they will still have other locations and you can order their stuff by mail. I remember years ago I saw vacuum-packed Carnegie corned beef for sale at Brookeville Market in Cleveland Park. It probably will taste similar, but you'll miss out on the location's special ambiance.  I lament Carnegie's passing but luckily for us a lot of new delis have sprung up in NY, DC, etc. which make good, if slightly different, deli meats and foodstuffs.   

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2 hours ago, KeithA said:

 Since it was closing, I made a final pilgrimage in mid-December with a bunch of co-workers. The line was down the block around lunch time so we got carry out. It was still nice being in the cramped space with all of the celeb pictures for one more time while we waited for our food. We went for the tried and true classics - corned beef on rye, pastrami on rye, jar of full sour pickles, matzo ball soup, coleslaw, and cheesecake.  One of the best work lunches in a long time (and normally we go to pretty nice places ;-)

Lucky/Smart you

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