Keeping kosher in New York is way more varied than simply settling for plain falafel—there are scores of top-rate kosher restaurants in NYC to suit religious gourmands, from the best New York delis to jazzed-up vegan and vegetarian restaurants and world-class Indian restaurants. For eateries that faithfully abide by orthodox Jewish policies, you should check out the best kosher restaurants in NYC.
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Best kosher restaurants in NYC
Open in the East Village since 1938, this venerable, 400-square-foot lunch counter long ago passed out of the hands of the Jewish immigrants who established it and is now run by a Polish Catholic and an Egyptian Muslim. Nevertheless, the slim restaurant still serves the kosher dairy dishes it has always been beloved for, such as a rotating selection of excellent hot (mushroom barley, split pea) and cold (borscht, cucumber) soups, and boiled or fried pierogi stuffed with cheese, potatoes or sauerkraut and mushrooms.
Born from the namesake of a Romanian immigrant's pushcart in 1890; the soft, house-made knishes at this time-honored LES favorite, baked in a basement brick oven and hoisted upstairs via dumbwaiter, are a taste of bygone New York. The old-world nosh, a thin dough shell filled with potato, comes savory (kasha, red cabbage) or sweet (blueberry, chocolate) or filled with cheese. Make it a meal with a pickle and coleslaw, and wash it all down with a fizzy cherry-lime rickey.
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.
Falafel doesn’t usually come in different flavors—unless it’s made by an Israel-born chef who’s worked under Bobby Flay. At her falafel and smoothie bar, Taïm, Balaboosta and Bar Bolonat chef Einat Admony seasons chickpea batter three ways: traditional green (with parsley and cilantro), red (with roasted red pepper) and harissa (with Tunisian spices and garlic). She pairs the terrific falafel with tasty salads like marinated beets, spicy Moroccan carrot salad or baba ghanoush and three dipping sauces. The smoothies are exotic, too—date-lime-banana, pineapple–coconut-milk and a refreshing cantaloupe-ginger—and can be made with whole, skim, soy or no milk.
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 granddaddy of six statewide locations and one in Boca Raton, FL, Ben's Gotham branch features a loud, 250-seat dining room and even louder colorful menu, 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 and chicken livers, plus lighter choices such as a Caesar salad.
This small, quiet vegan café and bistro offers most of its seitan, tofu and vegetable dishes as small plates—a good idea, as there are many options. There's wholesome sunflower- and lentil-pate on crostini and a Greek salad with cucumber, red onions and toasted feta-almonds. If you're willing to commit to a full-size entrée, the grilled nama gori plates tofu steaks steeped in a rich mustard-garlic sauce with steamed collard greens and an herbaceous dill-mayo spread.
Considered by many vegans to be among the best meat-free restaurants in Manhattan, this welcoming restaurant (which has both Upper East and Upper West Side locations) serves healthy, fresh and surprising dishes prepared by a kosher kitchen. For an appetizer, the indulgent nachos—piled high with guacamole, pico de gallo, tofu sour cream, tapioca cheese and grilled seitan—are a must order, while entrées a curried vegetable cake that’s aromatic with cumin and turmeric.
If you want to know how good hummus should taste, check out Hummus Place (The original East Village location is closed, the only two are in the West Village and UWS). We’re particularly fond of the supersmooth traditional hummus. It’s rich enough to be called “vegetarian chopped liver” and comes with a smart selection of condiments including pickles, olives, raw onion and chewy, bubbly pita for scooping.
If you're used to North Indian fare, the casually elegant Pongal will fill in a few blanks with dishes from the South. Staff at this kosher vegetarian spot provide a brief culinary geography lesson and realistically assess how scorching the "hot spices" really are. The dosa (cheese, spinach) are big and finely seasoned, and a selection of warm potato sabzi (spinach, cauliflower) come with aromatic basmati rice and mild spices.
Owner Joey Allaham tries to operate his meat emporium like a proper midtown steakhouse first, kosher steakhouse second. That means serious waiters, a clientele of glatt gourmands who are comfortable bringing nonkosher guests here, and a safe, classy wood-heavy interior. You won't find filet mignon (too close to the back to be a kosher cut), but slabs of dry-aged rib eye and hanger steak are richly satisfying.
This bright, clean Curry Hill standout makes a great date place—especially if your date is vegetarian, Jewish or homesick for India. Start with the samosa chaat ($4): two flaky pockets stuffed with potato and peas, covered in a colorful tamarind, cilantro and yogurt sauce. Then sample one of four $17 thalis—multiple servings of rice, curries, chutneys and more served on a single tray. A fresh lunch buffet, offered from 11:30am to 3pm on weekdays, overflows with South Indian standards like a creamy saag paneer and Gobi masala (cauliflower and spiced onions)—all you can eat for $8.95.
Serving the giant dosas, thick uttapam pancakes and thalis that Lexington Avenue’s Curry Hill is known for, this elegant newcomer brings kosher Indian delights to Greenwich Village. Of the former, try the Gunpowder Masala variety—the crepe’s normally mild potato filling is folded with smoky, spicy gunpowder chiles. The all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, served from 12-3 pm daily, is a steal at $11.95.
Although its name means “snack” in Hebrew, this always reliable Tribeca spot’s falafel-based sandwiches and platters are far more filling than your average nosh. Its crisp chickpea balls are available in three tempting flavors: an herb-flecked green, a spicy roasted red pepper and a hearty spinach-and-mushroom variety. Catch ’em all in the piled-high Deluxe sandwich, featuring a pita (white or whole wheat) stuffed with all three falafel balls, plus hummus, Israeli salad, shaved red and white cabbage, pickles, eggplant and nutty tahini paste.
Offering less-common Middle Eastern specialties hailing from Yemen and Morocco, this bare-bones Upper West Side spot is a favorite takeout option for tired, hungry kosher eaters returning to their neighborhood after a long day. While the varied menu ranges from French fries to chicken wings, it’s best to focus on flavorful dishes such as piquant shawarma, tender lamb kebabs and creamy, fluffy hummus. The Yemenite soup, a rich bone broth packed with lentils, is the house specialty and can’t be missed.
This wee Hell’s Kitchen Mediterranean restaurant only has enough space for a few seats, making it a great takeout option for hefty platters featuring creamy spreads, bright salads and excellent grilled kebabs and skewers. The crisp falafel is tasty and nearly greaseless, served tucked into a sandwich or on a plate alongside hummus, baba ghanoush, bright tabbouleh and crunchy pickles. On the side, pile up on the fresh house-baked pita, served stretchy and warm.
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Eating in Midtown can be tough. There are so many restaurants, and yet the prospects still seem bleak. When you find a place that’s consistent and tasty, you stick to it. one such restaurant is Norikoh, located just a few blocks south of Bryant Park. Though the restaurant’s interior is reminiscent of any Asian fusion restaurant in the city (stone walls, deep woods and the like), the food is not—it’s better. An order of shrimp cilantro gyoza ($6.75), pan-fried dumplings filled with the aforementioned seafood, scallions and celery, emerged from the kitchen piping hot and extremely enjoyable—these fresh, thin-skinned pockets went quickly. Also delicious was an appetizer of sweet bun sliders ($7), a riff on the ubiquitous pork belly bao sound in many Asian restaurants in New York. This time, though, you get to choose your meat (barbecue ribeye, braised pork belly or spicy pork). They’re garnished with pickled cabbage, cilantro and peanut powder, all of which help cut through the unctuous, fatty meat. Sushi is dependable here—a tuna avocado hand roll ($6.50) was fresh if a bit unwieldy. The namesake roll of the restaurant ($16) combines spicy salmon and jalapenos with tuna and tops it off with lemon, cilantro and tobiko. A volcano roll ($14) of crunchy spicy tuna, avocado, and cucumber topped with spicy kani salad, scallions, sesame and sweet Thai chili sauce was less successful, overwhelmed by its cloying sauce. In case you need warming, the restaurant offers an array of ramen a
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