Carnegie Deli may be shutting its doors at the year’s end, but New York’s Jewish delis are hardly on the decline.
A slew of new trendy, reservation-taking and line-grabbing restaurants in prestigious zip codes summons food lovers of all backgrounds, while a handful of New York’s old pastrami haunts are still going strong.
Growing up on Barney Greengrass and Murray’s Sturgeon Shop, brothers Zach and Alex Frankel opened their own ode to Jewish cuisine, Frankel’s Delicatessen & Appetizing, in Greenpoint this past spring.
Zach hopes his 21st-century deli continues the resurgence of Jewish cuisine in New York.
“We’re not trying to reinvent anything. ... This is the food we grew up eating, the food we always obsessed over,” Zach said.
He acknowledges the landmark status of many of New York’s tried and true Jewish eateries and hopes his family spot will one day become an institution as well.
“My favorite thing about delis in general is that you get people with strollers, hipsters, professionals, older people ... delis appeal to everyone,” Zach said.
Frankel’s isn’t the only trendy new restaurant to play on the deli theme. At the year-and-a-half-old Harry & Ida’s Meat and Supply Co., another set of siblings, Julie and Will Horowitz, pay homage to their great-grandparents with a hoagie-like pastrami sandwich that even made its way to Governors Ball this year.
Of course, way before smoked meats were being slung out before Kanye sets, Katz’s Delicatessen was luring in New Yorkers and tourists alike with its loaded corned beef sandwiches.
“We have some of the best deli food you’re going to find in New York, and, by extension, the world,” said Jake Dell, the current owner of Katz’s, which opened in 1888. “It’s all cured and smoked the old-fashioned way.”
But what keeps New Yorkers, always ready for the next big thing, returning to Katz’s?
“I think delis in general are a wonderful tradition,” Dell said. “There’s a desire for nostalgia and to see how food was done 100-plus years ago, and reconnect to the old food traditions.”
Nearly 130 years after its opening, Katz’s is still going strong, shipping sandwich kits nationwide via online orders and planning its first expansion in over 100 years to Brooklyn’s DeKalb Market Hall in spring 2017.
“I think whether you grew up with the deli or whether it’s your first time, you feel this connection to history,” Dell said of eating at Katz’s. “Deli food has transcended being a Jewish food. ... Everyone can feel that connection because at the end of the day the food is that good.”
While the days to indulge at Carnegie are getting fewer, there are still plenty of renowned appetizing shops and delis throughout New York City to appease your knish and corned beef cravings.
With locations in midtown, Bayside, suburbia and Florida, Ben's has been bringing solid Jewish deli fare to the masses since 1972. The expansive menu caters to any and all eager to experience the deli atmosphere, but stick with the classics: knishes, kreplach and anything smoked. 209 W. 38th St., 212-398-2367; 211-37 26th Ave., Bayside, 718-229-2367, bensdeli.net
Russ & Daughters Cafe
This trendy, two-year-old cafe boasts weekend lines longer than Russ & Daughters' original appetizing store. Placemats laden with Jewish proverbs will become your step-in bubbe for brunch, encouraging diners to go for the sweets (babka French toast!), to fill up on kasha varnishkas and nosh on smoked fish boards. The cafe marked the first major expansion of Russ & Daughters, which last year also grew uptown with a store and cafe at the Jewish Museum. Next year sees more growth, with a spot planned at a new food hall coming to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. 127 Orchard St., 212-475-4880, russanddaughterscafe.com
2nd Avenue Deli
A relic from another era, this kosher deli (with two locations, neither of which are on Second Avenue) serves up all the classics with no flares. Hefty platters of gefilte fish, kugel, latkes and other beige-hued Eastern European Jewish comfort foods can be enjoyed unceremoniously, which is a good thing when you're stuffing your face with dense carbs. 162 E. 33rd St., 212-689-9000; 1442 First Ave., 212-737-1700, 2ndavedeli.com
Liebman’s Bronx Delicatessen and Catering
The chilled salads, creamy chopped liver and corned beef on rye hail back to another era at the oldest delicatessen remaining in the Bronx. The cozy establishment has been ladling out matzo ball soup since 1953. 552 W. 235th St., Bronx, 718-548-4534, liebmansdeli.com
Mile End Delicatessen
At this traditional Jewish deli with gourmet flare, expect knishes almost reminiscent of your favorite slice joint's garlic knots, fried salami with mustard on a roll with the moniker Ruth Wilensky, and a big salad, The Elaine, pandering to "Seinfeld" fans. Those in it for the beef can surely leave satisfied with as much house-smoked corned beef and turkey to be enjoyed with as many house-cured pickles as one can handle. Since first opening in Brooklyn in 2010, the deli has expanded to Manhattan with a SoHo location and a stand at the midtown food hall Urbanspace Vanderbilt, serving a limited menu. 97A Hoyt St., Boerum Hill, 718-852-7510; 53 Bond St., 212-529-2990; Urbanspace Vanderbilt, 230 Park Ave., 646-747-0814, mileenddeli.com
Harry & Ida’s Meat & Supply Co.
Old-school Jewish fare gets a downtown makeover, where house-made pastrami is served with nouveau toppings like buttermilk fermented cucumber and anchovy-infused mustard. Those veering from tradition can experiment with the smoked eel sandwich or vegan-friendly creations that make deli meat nearly obsolete. A grungy-chic grocery setting adds to the old world-meets-Instagram charm. 189 Ave. A, 646-864-0967, meatandsupplyco.com
Frankel’s Delicatessen & Appetizing
Located at the border of Greenpoint and Williamsburg is a new deli just as trendy as the neighborhoods it spans. Veering from kosher tradition, here you'll find excellently smoked pastrami adorned with a fried egg and gooey strands of American cheese in a deli riff on the breakfast sandwich, and a piled-high turkey club generous on the bacon that graces a fluffy challah roll. 631 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint, 718-389-2302, frankelsdelicatessen.com
Generations have been having what she's having at this iconic Lower East Side deli, consistently populated with a dining room full of tourists and a handful of pushier New Yorkers at the counter who lack the patience for sit-down service (and know about the free corned beef and pastrami samples). 205 E. Houston St., 212-254-2246, katzsdelicatessen.com