The 10 Best Delis In NYC You Need To Visit In Your Lifetime
It’s impossible to discuss the culinary history of NYC without discussing the deli. The dishes commonly sold in and associated with these types of restaurants were originally brought over by Jewish immigrants, especially those from Eastern Europe. The result was that many dishes with Polish and Yiddish names became staples of the city’s cuisine. If you’ve been craving a savory sandwich or a sweet, sugary treat, then head over to one of the best delis in NYC:
1. 2nd Avenue Deli (Upper East Side)
Boasting an impressive display of sandwiches and side dishes, 2nd Avenue Deli offers scrumptious kosher food at reasonable prices. Available are classic foods such as pierogi, matzoh brei, kasha varnishkes and kreplach dumplings. Of course, pastrami and corned beef sandwiches are there and they do give you lots of material to munch on so you will leave full. You have the option to take some cold cuts home with you, in case you want to recreate your experience at home!
2. Russ & Daughters (Lower East Side)
If you are dying for a nice bagel with lox in the morning, then this is one of the best delis in NYC for you. As a place that focuses on breakfast, bialys, a round bread similar to the bagel, are sold here as well as various shmears such as chopped liver, scallion cream cheese, whitefish salad and even vegetable tofu cream cheese. Herring and caviar types are also available. But the best thing about this place is that they ship all around NYC, meaning that you don’t have to get out of bed to order products. Nice!
3. Kat’z Delicatessen (East Village)
For the longest time, there were two big names in New York delicatessens: Kat’z and Carnegie. Both had some very similar elements: celebrities’ photos on the walls, long wait-times due to high demand and sandwiches stacked with pastrami and corned beef to the point of overflowing. Today, only Kat’z is left which is inconvenient for those often in Midtown. But trust us on this, this place is worth the trip. Of particular note are the kugel and the kishna dishes. And Kat’z Deli ships nationwide. Take advantage!
4. Sarge’s Delicatessen (Murray Hill)
Like Kat’z, Sarge’s Delicatessen offers nationwide shipping (although with less options) and the same sandwiches and breakfast foods that you’d expect of any New York establishment. However, Sarge’s stands out in that, unlike other diners, this one is open 24/7! That means that if you’re craving some kreplach at four in the morning, then all you need to do is take a trip to Midtown. Also available on their menu are classic knishes, whitefish and egg salads, goulash, chicken liver and so much more. As for the deserts, seven types of cake and five types of pies are available for munching on alongside eclairs, tarts, napoleons, halvah and strudels. Eat up at any time!
5. Junior’s Restaurant (Park Slope)
Junior’s is mostly known for its cheesecake; it’s even in the restaurant’s url! And with up to thirteen different varieties to choose from in up to four different sizes, there’s no point in not trying a slice. However a visit to their Brooklyn location also gives you access to their matzo ball soup, pastrami smoked salmon, cheese blintzes and beef tongue sandwich. This may not be a traditional, orthodox delicatessen but it’s still wildly popular and wildly delicious too, so be sure to stop by next time you’re around Prospect Park.
6. Brooklyn Diner (Midtown)
It’s not the same thing as actually eating in Brooklyn but if you’re close to Broadway, then this will do just fine. Ready for your noshing are pigs in a blanket, chicken soup, pastrami reubens and, most interestingly, a pastrami mac & cheese. Now that’s what we call innovative and delicious! For dessert, there’s more delicious cheesecake alongside rugelach and kugel. Note that like Junior’s, this isn’t an orthodox delicatessen per se but it’s a must-visit if you’re in the area.
7. Barney’s Greengrass (Upper West Side)
Barney’s Greengrass is not the greatest-looking place but their wide selection of smoked fish more than makes up for that! Their menu contains among other things Nova Scotia lox, cured gravlox, smoked sablefish, whitefish and smoked sturgeon. And if that wasn’t enough fish for you, it should also be noted that they also sell jarred herring, sardines, tuna salad and three unique varieties of caviar. Talk about a taste of the sea! But don’t worry; there are plenty of sandwiches, soups and meats like the other best delis in NYC if you prefer land animals.
8. Loeser’s Old-Fashioned Kosher Deli (Kingsbridge)
Resting in the Bronx is an old deli that serves its sandwiches and its hot dogs like it’s still the 1960’s. That’s because Loeser’s Deli dates back to that decade and if you couldn’t tell from the sign out front, you could definitely tell by the memorabilia on the walls. A fair warning to all who come here, the food is not cheap but, to some, the unique New York experience is what makes it all worth it. Look out for the “Pastrami Wish” sandwich while you’re there; it’s pastrami inside a knish and it’s just as good as it sounds.
9. Liebman’s Kosher Deli (Riverdale)
Also resting in the Bronx is one of the smallest, oldest and most kosher of the best delis in NYC. It offers old-fashioned Jewish food to the modern New York metropolis. Though to some this may seem outdated (or even stubborn), the result has been majorly positive with many praising it as a cheap, scrumptious blast from the past. Even the deli’s website will admit, however, that it’s a bit of a hassle to get to it if you’re not from the area. Nonetheless, you should definitely stop by and be sure to get a pastrami sandwich and knish while you’re there. This is about as classic as it gets so eat up!
10. Pastrami Queen (Upper East Side)
Let’s end this list in central Manhattan with a newer entry into this decades old cuisine, shall we? The Pastrami Queen describes itself with its name alone but focusing on that leaves out the many side dishes to choose from. These include but aren’t limited to potato pancakes, egg barley, kasha knishes and batches of sour pickles. If you need any more proof that this place is worth your time, know that Anthony Bourdain regularly called it home to one of the best sandwiches in NYC! Now that’s an endorsement if we ever heard one!
What are the best delis in NYC in your opinion? Share them in the comments!
Hi! I'm Tyler and I'm a sophomore student at the University of Vermont. I'm an English major and I'm minoring in French and Linguistics. I'm particularly interested in reading, writing, philosophy and the natural world (although the Internet is somewhere I hang out often too).