New York City is the premiere travel destination in all of the United States. It’s perhaps the greatest food city in the world rivalled only by Paris and Tokyo. There are a few foods you absolutely must try when you are in New York City. A dirty water hot dog is a must, as is a nice meal in a steak house, but perhaps the most quintessentially New York place to eat is a deli. This is where you can find all the best Jewish comfort food from pastrami to gefilte fish to bagels. For a long time Carnegie Deli was usually at the top of any list ranking delis, but now that the famous eatery has closed these are the delis that are in a battle for the top spot.
1. Russ and Daughters
If you have ever seen the tv show Louie you are probably familiar with this famous delicatessen. Herring is the popular dish here, and you are meant to eat it right then and there in one bite. Russ and Daughters has been around since 1914, and it’s a staple of New York City culinary history. There are actually three location now. There’s the original appetizing store, a sit down restaurant and a Russ and Daughters in the Jewish History Museum.
Russ and Daughters
Address: Three locations: 179 E Houston St, New York; 127 Orchard St, New York; and 1109 5th Ave, New York
Website: Russ and Daughters
2. Katz's Deli
When you think New York City you probably think of Katz’s Deli. This delicatessen was on the map long before the famous orgasm scene in the Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan comedy When Harry Met Sally. Frankly, the mountain of corned beef and pastrami is even better than actual sex. The slow cooking process results in juicy and tender sandwiches. There are so many sandwich combinations to choose from including the tongue, liver, corned beef, and pastrami. A nice bowl of matzah ball soup is a perfect accompaniment. Katz’s has been around since 1888, and it will likely last another 100 plus years.
Address: 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002
Website: Katz’s Deli
3. Pastrami Queen
Pastrami Queen used to be Pastrami King, but the name change and move from Brooklyn to Queens didn’t affect the quality of this pastrami one bit. Now located in Manhattan on the upper east side, Pastrami Queen still offers high-quality food at an affordable price. The pastrami on rye has the perfect blend of spices, and it’s incredibly succulent.
Address: 1125 Lexington Ave # 2, New York, NY 10075
Website: Pastrami Queen
4. Barney Greengrass
Barney Greengrass on the upper west side is the place to go if you’re looking for high-quality smoked fish. The selection is impressive from salmon to herring to sturgeon. Lox on a bagel at Barney Greengrass might be the ultimate New York City breakfast. It has earned the name the Sturgeon King.
Address: 541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
Website: Barney Greengrass
5. 2nd Ave Deli
The 2nd Ave Deli gets it name from its original location. It first opened in 1956, and even though it has moved since then the succulent meats are still some of the best in all of New York City. All your favorite Jewish staples can be found at the Second Avenue Deli. A nice corned beef sandwich with a bowl of matzah ball soup are a perfect combination. Unlike many other delis, this one is open 7 days a week, including Saturday (the sabbath). The deli is Kosher, but some Orthodox Jews choose not to eat there because it is open on the holy day.
Second Avenue Deli
Address: Two locations: 1442 First Avenue; and 162 East 33rd Street
Website: Second Avenue Deli
6. Sarge's Deli
Herring? Check. Lox? Check. Pastrami? Check. Sturgeon? Check. Gifilte fish? Check. All the staples of a high quality delicatessen are at Sarge’s. However, you may be shocked at some of the other things on the menu. Steak, cheesecake and BBQ ribs? It’s all there, too. Surprisingly the quality of the food is all top notch even though there are hundreds of items on the menu. This is what happens when a deli and diner come together in one.
Address: 548 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016
Website: Sarge’s Deli
7. Mile End Deli
The Mile End Deli is different from the other NYC delis on this list because it is heavily influenced by a Canadian style. Mile End specializes in Montreal smoked meat, which has a slightly different taste and cooking method than its more famous cousin pastrami. Montreal smoked meat has a decidedly more robust and smokier flavor. The age old debate of pastrami vs Montreal smoked meat needs you as a judge, so head to Mile End and try some for yourself.
Mile End Deli
Address: Two locations: 97A Hoyt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217; and 53 Bond Street, New York, NY 10012
Website: Mile End Deli
8. David's Brisket House
David’s Brisket House has a name so simple that you can easily tell what this deli is all about. This brisket is so soft and moist that you won’t even have to worry about adding mustard. This Brooklyn hot spot has a long and storied history that is as intriguing as the delicious menu items. When the restaurant opened over 50 years ago it was run by a Russian Jew named Dave. The name remains, but now it is run by neither a Jew nor a Dave. In fact, this top notch Jewish Deli is run by a Muslim. This is a Halal deli now, and it’s a testament to the power of delicious meat. No matter your background, food can truly unite us as humans.
David's Brisket House
Address: 533 Nostrand Ave, 11216 Brooklyn, New York
Website: David’s Brisket House
9. Mill Basin Deli
This Kosher deli in Brooklyn has all your favorites from chopped liver to pastrami. The stuffed cabbage rolls are huge, and there is even a wide selection of desserts. This is an authentic Jewish deli and the prices are extremely affordable. It’s one of the gems on the Brooklyn deli scene.
Mill Basin Deli
Address: 5823 Ave. T, Brooklyn, NY 11234
Website: Mill Basin Deli
Delis are the heart and soul of the NYC food scene
A corned beef or pastrami sandwich is the quintessential New York meal. Delis have been satiating the hunger of tourists and locals for over 100 years, and they will continue to do so for may years to come. Delis are what make the NYC food scene so vibrant. They are a historic part of the city. Immigrants brought their food customs to America so everyone could enjoy them, and delis are a prime example of that. The next time you are in New York be sure to stop by one of these delis.
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