100 best New York restaurants: Jewish Delicatessen

Some of the best New York restaurants are classic Jewish delis—places where you can still get a pastrami sandwich, smoked fish or a bowl of matzo ball soup.

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  • 100 best New York restaurants: Black Seed

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    100 best New York restaurants: Mile End

  • Photograph: Wendy Connett

    100 best New York restaurants: Katz’s Delicatessen

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    100 best New York restaurants: 2nd Ave Deli

  • 100 best New York restaurants: Barney Greengrass

100 best New York restaurants: Black Seed

The New York Jewish delicatessen is a dying breed, with precious few classic lunch counters keeping the flame alive with piles of pastrami, buckets of pickles, platters of coleslaw, latkes, smoked fish and rugelach. But some of the best New York restaurants still peddle these old-world pleasures. Here are our favorite classic and new wave Jewish delicatessens in New York.

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Black Seed

  • Price band: 1/4

At newfangled Nolita bagelry Black Seed, from Mile End deli-case remixer Noah Bernamoff and The Smile impresario Matt Kliegman, the ambitious, hand-rolled rounds merge two disciplines: They’re honey-enhanced à la Bernamoff’s native Montreal, but with an eggless, touch-of-salt bite to satisfy lifelong Gothamite Kliegman. Kettle-boiled and wood-fired, the small but mighty bagels are crowned with house-made toppings both classic (scallion cream cheese, silky cold-smoked salmon) and fanciful (salty tobiko caviar, crisp watermelon radishes).

  1. 170 Elizabeth St, (between Kenmare and Spring Sts), 10012
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Mile End

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Noah Bernamoff’s Boerum Hill eatery is a compelling addition to the city's rich tradition of Jewish cuisine. It began (and still operates as) a Montreal-style deli serving excellent smoked brisket, stacked in small sandwiches with mustard or worked into a breakfast hash, with cubed potato, onions and a runny egg. But the hypercasual space also hosts an ambitious dinner service, offering upgraded Yiddish classics from Torrisi alum Aaron Israel. Velvety chicken liver, cold-banishing broth floating fat matzo balls and seared poulet juif—an upmarket spin on High Holidays fare—with dried fruit-and-rye stuffing would all make Bubbe proud. And desserts baked in house (mandel bread, rugalach and moist honey cake) deliver a familiar finish to a genuinely heartwarming meal.

  1. 97A Hoyt St, (between Atlantic Ave and Pacific St)
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Katz’s Delicatessen

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This cavernous cafeteria is a repository of New York history—glossies of celebs spanning the past century crowd the walls, and the classic Jewish deli offerings are nonpareil. Start with a crisp-skinned, all-beef hot dog for just $3.10. Then flag down a meat cutter and order a legendary sandwich. The brisket sings with horseradish, and the thick-cut pastrami stacked high between slices of rye is the stuff of dreams. Everything tastes better with a glass of the hoppy house lager; if you’re on the wagon, make it a Dr. Brown’s.

  1. 205 E Houston St, (at Ludlow St), 10002
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2nd Ave Deli

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

After the 2006 shuttering of the deli’s original East Village location, Jeremy Lebewohl, the founder’s nephew, reopened the place at this misleading Murray Hill address, menu intact. Most things are as good as ever: Schmaltz-laden chopped liver is whipped to a mousselike consistency, and the deli meats, including juicy pastrami and corned beef, skillfully straddle the line between fatty and lean. Good news for wistful aficionados: The decor, from the Hebraic logo to the blue-white-and-brown tiles and celeb headshots made the trip uptown too.

  1. 162 E 33rd St , (between Lexington and Third Aves)
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Barney Greengrass

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Despite decor that Jewish mothers might call “schmutzy,” this legendary deli is a madhouse at breakfast and brunch. Enormous egg platters come with the usual choice of smoked fish (such as sturgeon or Nova Scotia salmon). Prices are high but portions are large—and that goes for the sandwiches, too. Or try the less costly dishes: matzo-ball soup, creamy egg salad or cold pink borscht served in a glass jar.

  1. 541 Amsterdam Ave, (between 86th and 87th Sts), 10024
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Users say

1 comments
Richard S
Richard S

The Jewish Delis you list are fine for the tourist trade, but if you want an authentic old-style Jewish Deli experience you've got to venture up to West 235th Street in the northwest corner of the Bronx. Liebman's Deli is a Riverdale neighborhood joint that has been piling high the pastrami since the 1950s. Ask for your pickle half sour, nosh a bissle tongue, fress some kishkes, it's a mechayeh!