James First Prime Pick
Whenever I'm asked "where's a must have eatery I have to try before I leave" by an out-of-towner visiting NYC, there's a plethora of restaurants that scroll through my mind but only one jumps out as a complete embodiment of an "only in New York" dining experience - Katz's Deli.
Nothing about Katz's is normal, but everything about it screams “New Yawk." From the neon delicatessen sign outside, to the old 1970's wood paneling on the walls, you know you've walked into a classic New York deli. And only a New York deli would come up with the most unorthodox (but efficient) ordering system that uses a ticket, which oddly enough is the only ticket in town you need to get out, not in.
If it's your first time... read the next words very carefully and thank me later - DON'T LOSE YOUR TICKET. It's your only way out of the place. As for the food, when you step up to the counter to order, there are no lines. Just spot the guy next to the meat holding a serrated knife, shove the newbie next to you out of the way and shout out your order. LOUD.
Don't be afraid to sample. In fact, it's the best part.
And make sure you tip the meat guys; they're very generous with the samples. After you order, give them your ticket to mark off your order. And finally... pastrami over corned beef. You won't regret it.