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Katz's Delicatessan
Photograph: Virginia Rollison Katz's Delicatessan

The best Jewish delis in NYC

The best Jewish deli food in NYC includes lox-and-schmear bagels, pastrami sandwiches and classic matzo ball soup

By Christina Izzo

Gotham has a proud Jewish heritage, one even non-chosen folk can enjoy with the best Jewish deli food in NYC. Old-school New York delis serve some of the city’s best bagels, pastrami sandwiches, matzo ball soup and more. From Lower East Side restaurants to uptown icons, here is where you can find the best Jewish deli grub in New York.

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Best Jewish delis in NYC

Katz Delicatessen
Photograph: Courtesy Katz Delicatessen

1. Katz’s Delicatessen

Restaurants Delis Lower East Side

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.

Barney Greengrass
Photograph: Courtesy Barney Greengrass

2. Barney Greengrass

Restaurants Delis Upper West Side

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.

Corned beef sandwich at 2nd Ave Deli
Photograph: Ilenia Martini

3. 2nd Ave Deli

Restaurants Delis Lenox Hill

The onetime East Village institution, now located in Murray Hill, brings its chopped liver, corned beef and pastrami to the Upper East Side. Brothers Josh and Jeremy Lebewohl, the founder's nephews, stay true to the original with the same menu of Jewish standards at this 70-seat location.

Sarge's Deli
Photograph: Kirby Tidwell

4. Sarge’s Deli

Restaurants Delis Murray Hill

Sarge’s is generally believed to be the city’s only 24-hour Jewish delicatessen. And it’s a really good one, at that. The matzo ball soup is dead-on—a spongy orb submerged in a rich broth (offered, as it should be, with or without noodles), and the sandwiches are as flavorful and enormous as anything at Carnegie or Katz’s. The folks at Sarge’s are the real thing, from the appropriately gruff-but-friendly waiters to the not-insignificant number of old folks shuffling in. By the time you’ve finished your meal you won’t be hungry for days.

Mill Basin Deli
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/ Susan C.

5. Mill Basin Deli

Restaurants Delis Brooklyn

You’ll find all of your cured-meat classics at this kosher-certified south Brooklyn stalwart—which opens back in 1974—from hot brisket to hard salami, as well as newfangled options like a PLT (that would be bacon-like burnt pastrami slices with lettuce and tomato on rye) or potato chips made out of latkes, served with apple sauce.

Photograph: Courtesy Liebman's Deli

6. Liebman’s Kosher Delicatessen

Restaurants Delis The Bronx

Back when Joseph Liebman first opened this Riverdale, Bronx deli in 1953, it was one of nearly 100 Jewish delicatessens in the borough. Six decades later, it's one of two old-timers left. (Loeser's on W 231st is the other.) The luncheonette–rigged with Formica tabletops, padded green booths, and counter cases showcasing hulks of brisket and kosher franks–was taken over by the Dekel family in the '80s, but the menu hasn't changed over time, offering cold-cut platters, hot open-faced sandwiches and pastrami piled on rye.

Jay and Lloyd’s Kosher Deli
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/ Michelle D.

7. Jay and Lloyd’s Kosher Deli

Restaurants Delis Sheepshead Bay

This Sheepshead Bay favorite is worth the schlep to Brooklyn’s deep south—from a pair of Kings County natives and third-generation deli masters, the neighborhood spot offers homemade knishes, turkey triple deckers and classic Reubens with hot sauerkraut, as well as a heaping side of old-world charm.

Mile End Deli
Photograph: Courtesy Virginia Rollison

8. Mile End Delicatessen

Restaurants Delis Noho

The place launched in 2009 as a Montreal-style deli serving smoked-meat sandwiches and Canadian bagels, before adding more ambitious haute juif cuisine. At their sandwich-centric spin-off, Noah Bernamoff and wife-partner Rae Cohen offer the classics still served at the original restaurant—the same succulent hand-cut Montreal smoked meat on Orwasher’s rye, the same malty bagels piled high with glistening lox. But that’s just where it starts. The repertoire here, not constrained by geographic allegiance, looks way past Quebec: There’s a fine turkey sandwich—the Grandpa—featuring French and Yiddish accents, with turkey rillettes, smoked white meat, brown mustard and rye.

Ben's Kosher Delicatessen
Photograph: Courtesy Melissa Sinclair

9. Ben’s Kosher Delicatessen

Restaurants Delis Midtown West

Knishes, hot pastrami, chopped liver—you’ll find deli classics and much more at Ben’s, proud sponsor of an annual matzo-ball-eating contest. (The 2002 winner downed 16 and a quarter in five minutes.) The granddaddy of 6 statewide locations and 1 in Boca Raton, FL, Ben’s Gotham branch features a loud, 250-seat purple dining room and even louder yellow menus, chock-full of exclamation points. Half an overstuffed sandwich, served on soft, tangy rye or wheat, is thicker than War and Peace, and the beef, turkey and veggie burgers are bursting out of their buns. There are also steaks, veal chops and chicken livers, plus lighter choices, such as a Caesar salad.

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