I recently went to New York and ate a lot of food. The place that I was probably most excited to try was Katz's deli. I've lavished praise upon and more recently, lamented a pattern of decline at, Langer's. For this comparison, I will take Langer's at its best vs. one visit to Katz's. At Langers, I order a plain pastrami on rye and sometimes spread a small amount of mustard on the bread. At Katz's, I ordered the pastrami on rye and due to a misunderstanding, the sandwich maker added mustard.
The pastrami at Katz's is better than at Langer's. It's very close though. Langer's at its best does not leave me wishing I could go to Katz's. The pastrami at Katz's is slightly smokier and has a slightly deeper, more robust taste. The Katz's pastrami is also a little bit fattier and juicier. The sandwich maker hand slices it right in front of you and offers a sample on a paper plate before assembling the sandwich. Katz's gives you more meat than at Langer's but not by a large margin.
The rye bread at Langer's is far superior to Katz's rye bread. Katz's rye bread is an afterthought, it seems. It's soft all the way through the crust. It fell apart while eating the sandwich. I compared it to the bread or rolls that you get at most BBQ joints--it's just a vehicle for the meat and doesn't add anything to the sandwich. Langer's rye bread is exceptional. Soft in the middle with a great crust. Since I wouldn't be returning to Katz's, I went back to the counter for another sandwich to split with one of my companions. This sandwich came from a brand new hunk of pastrami. The pastrami was identical--perfect. The bread was the same as well.
I'm glad we have Langer's and I hope my last five or so sandwiches aren't the new reality at Langer's. At its best, I'd choose Langer's over Katz's because of the bread.
Other observations: NY pizza is not better than LA pizza. I had pizza from about 5 different places in New York, including John's on Bleecker Street and Joe's (to compare with our SM Joe's) and I never found myself wishing we could have this pizza in LA. Between the fancier wood fired oven places and a few of the better gas oven pizza places, LA has as good or better pizza than I had in NY.