Anyone who’s participated in the traditional Passover meal, the seder—or any Jewish celebration, for that matter—understands that we Jews like to eat. Pesach, which begins Friday evening at sundown, is a bittersweet holiday that recalls the Jewish enslavement in Egypt and subsequent escape into the desert. But seders tend to compensate for the somber story with tables that groan under the weight of delicious food. If you’re not heading to one this year—or if you want lamb or brisket braised by a pro—a whole bunch of restaurants are serving creative takes on the classic feast. Chag sameach!
Mile End Deli
Though this Montreal-inflected eatery offers classics like brisket sandwiches and matzo ball soup year-round, Mile End is anything but traditional, peppering the menu with bacon and observing “Jewish Christmas” by serving Chinese food. So it’s only fitting that its seder is a little off the wall: Proceedings are led by Jewish mystic and musician Mikey Pauker, with readings from The Unorthodox Haggadah author Nathan Phillips. A Middle Eastern menu offers baba ghanoush, fried artichokes with tahini and pomegranate-glazed roasted lamb.
And&And, 353 W 12th St. Sat 23 at 6:30pm; $130.
For five years running, Israeli chef Einat Admony has invited guest chefs to her Mediterranean kitchen to cook up a fun, five-course seder. This Passover, Top Chef winner Ilan Hall collaborates on a globe-spanning meal featuring Persian cucumber salad with crispy chickpeas, smoked leg of lamb and an indulgent banana split. There will also be wine pairings, live music and a hunt for the afikomen—an extra-special piece of matzo hidden at the beginning of the evening.
214 Mulberry St. Sun 24 at 6:30pm; $185.62.
Russ & Daughters Cafe
The airy sit-down version of the legendary Lower East Side takeaway counter celebrates its second Passover with an intimate seder led by activist Rabbi Andy Bachman, scholar-in-residence at the 92nd Street Y. Chow down on chopped liver, matzo ball soup and two kinds of gefilte fish while listening to live music from Dan Kaufman of Brooklyn avant-klezmer band Barbez.
127 Orchard St. Sat 23 at 7pm; $180.
This seasonal “American Chinese” restaurant, located between Chinatown and the historically Jewish LES celebrates the holiday by fusing the two cuisines. Chef Jonathan Wu’s à la carte holiday creations include a brisket-nodding char siu beef ($26) as well as potato gnocchi with Russ and Daughters–sourced herring and Szechuan-style matchstick potatoes ($15).
22 Orchard St. Fri 22–Sat 30.
Joe and Misses Doe
The husband-and-wife owners of this quirky East Village spot have hosted “progressive Passover” meals for six years, paying homage to the holiday without being stuffy or boring. This year’s feast starts with rum punch featuring Manischewitz and apple cider, followed by herbal green-goddess matzo ball soup, brisket and a decadent chocolate blackout cake. With just eight tables, you’ll likely get to know your neighbors as you reach for the roasted root veggies.
45 E 1st St. Fri 22, Sat 23 and Sun 24; $95.