Tag Archives: Jewish food

NYC Food Adventures: Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery

Notes from a New York City Foodie Trip
blueberry knish

What the heck is a Knish?

I’ll be honest, before planning this trip to New York City, I had never heard of knishes, and had no idea how to pronounce them (the K is not silent). But while researching the neighborhood around Katz’s Deli, I came across Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery and I knew we had to stop and try a knish.

Yonah Schimmel’s has been on this tiny store on Houston St. (pronounced “HOW-ston”) for over a hundred years. Schimmel, a Romanian rabbi, started selling knishes from a cart in Coney Island back in the 1890’s, and eventually was able to open a brick and mortar store in Manhattan. The shop is now owned by his grand-nephew.

Knishes are baked dumplings, consisting of a thin flour dough enveloping a filling, often mashed potatoes with onions, but it may also include ground meats. They seem similar to pierogis, but as the latter are usually boiled or fried, the texture is different. There are also sweet, fruit knishes. As we had just had lunch at Katz’s, and as we had no method to reheat a savory knish back at our hotel, we got two sweet ones to eat as dessert later.

I got the blueberry cream cheese knish ($8.50). It was exactly what it sounded like: a thin pastry surrounding slightly sweetened cream cheese and cooked blueberries. It was very rich, not very sweet and very tasty. A very grown up dessert – and one knish is certainly enough for two people. Mike got the apple strudel knish ($8.50) and that was less successful. It was basically apple pie filling in that same, thin dough, but it wasn’t sweet enough for his liking. He was terribly disappointed.

If we went back to NYC, I’d be curious to try to savory knishes, and I’d get a blueberry one again. Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery does ship nationwide through Gold Belly. A 6-pack of knishes will cost you $80, shipping included.

Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery
137 E. Houston Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 477-2858
MON - SUN 11AM - 6PM

NYC Food Adventures: A Bagel with Cream Cheese and Lox

Notes from a New York City Foodie Trip

A visit to Russ & Daughters and Pick a Bagel

Among the many food items New York City is known for are bagels. The claim is that New York City tap water makes both bagels and hot dogs particularly delicious. My husband and I are not huge bagel eaters, as we try to watch our carbs, but we had to try one while in the City. And it had to be an everything bagel (though we ended up getting plain) with cream cheese and lox, as that’s probably the most popular bagel combination among New Yorkers.

There are a plethora of places where to get bagels in NYC, but among them Russ & Daughters holds special distinction. The small deli has been at its current location on Houston St., a block away from Katz’s deli, for over a hundred years – though in recent years they’ve open a few other branches. It specializes in smoked fish and caviar, though they also have some spreads, soups, salads and baked goods. I had read in several places that their bagels weren’t particularly good, and we had just had lunch at Katz’s and weren’t particularly hungry, so we stopped by to pick up some lox and cream cheese for later.


The genius of great lox, I was to find out, is not only how it’s cooked, but how it’s sliced. The knife skills of the cutter were phenomenal. He chose the best part of the fish from where to hand cut paper thin slices of salmon. The cutter offered Mike a taste of the salmon of his choice, and he decided on the Norway, a strong tasting lox that he loved. Still, he decided to get a 1/4 lb of the Gaspe Nova ($14) to take home, as that’s the one Russ & Daughters is best known for. We also got 1/4 lb of scallion cream cheese ($3.50) as they’re also known for it.

It wasn’t until our last morning in NYC that we were able to actually get some bagels to eat with the cream cheese and lox (just cream cheese for me, as I don’t like lox). We got the bagels at Pick A Bagel, which seems to be a chain, with a location a few blocks away from our hotel.

The plain bagels ($1.75 each) were good. I liked them, they had a nice chew and good flavor. Mike thought they were just average – then again, he doesn’t particularly like bagels, so maybe that’s at play. We ate the bagels untoasted, as this seems to be the most common way to do it in NYC. I feel that most of the bagels we get here need to be toasted to be really edible, but this one really didn’t need it. We also got a bialy ($1.75), which is an unboiled bagel topped with onions. I had it after we got home and I did enjoy it, but again, I didn’t think it was particularly remarkable. Still, I did like the chewiness and not needing to toast it.

I wasn’t as enthusiastic about the scallion cream cheese from Russ & Daughters. It was fine, but it wasn’t special. Other than the scallions, I can’t say it was better than Philadelphia. Mike, however, raved about the lox. He thought the Gaspe Nova was absolutely delicious. It did, indeed, have a mild flavor, but he didn’t mind at all. While the two types of lox he tasted were different, he isn’t able to find a favorite, he’d like them both again. And he does think these may very be the best lox he’s ever had – indeed, he thinks it’s very unlikely he could find a better lox, at least outside NYC.

So now you know, if you’re in NYC and you love smoked salmon, get some lox from Russ & Daughters. You can also order it online, but the shipping fee through Goldbelly is $55 for a pound of lox, on top of the $56 for the salmon!.

You might also try a different place for bagels, feel free to comment below on what your favorites are.

Russ & Daughters
179 E Houston St
212-475-4880, x1
M-Su 8:00AM - 4:00PM

Pick a Bagel
891 8th Ave 
New York City
(212) 582-8333

NYC Food Adventures: Katz’s Deli

Notes from a New York City Foodie Trip

Yes, we had the Pastrami Sandwich. And yes, it was as good as they said.

Katz’s Deli is perhaps New York City’s most famous restaurant. At least, it’s the one “must visit” restaurant in every list I looked in preparation to our trip to NYC. It has appeared in several movies, most famously, in the “orgasm” scene in When Harry Met Sally. Katz’s claims to be the oldest deli in NYC, and it has operating at its present location for almost a hundred years. Mike and the girls had visited it back when we last went to NYC in 2016, after the Democratic Convention in Philly, and had brought me a sandwich from there – I had been so exhausted after the convention that I barely left the hotel room. But I wanted to go myself and really savor that very famed pastrami sandwich.

As Katz’s is such a famous destination, it can also be impossibly busy – with lines which sometimes are supposed to near 45 minutes. Fortunately, it was pretty empty when we arrived before noon on a cold February day and I was able to find a seat right away.

katz ticket

Katz’s has a somewhat confusing system of serving customers, but it works fairly well. When you go in, every person is given a red ticket at the door. The cost of what you order will be written on the ticket by either the people at the counter, where you order, or your waiter if you get waiter service. When you are ready to go, you present the ticket to the cashier at the exit, and pay the amount written on it. You can put all your purchases on a single ticket, but just make sure to keep your blank ticket with you and return it to the cashier when you leave. If you don’t have your ticket, you’ll be charged $50.

Katz's deli

You have a choice of ordering your food at the counter and finding your own table where you can seat, or getting waiter service. Most of the available tables are for counter customers, but there is a small section at the back of the store (walk all the way back, and then go to the right, towards the bathrooms) where they have table service. If there is more than one of you, you can find a seat while someone goes to the counter and orders for the rest.

Katz' deli

Katz’s very long counter is divided into several sections. If you are ordering a meat sandwich – or, I presume, just meat – you go to one of the “cutters” who will give you a sample of the meats you are interested in (make sure to tip him a buck or two), for you to choose. They are most famous for their pastrami, but they also have corned beef, brisket and others. We’d been considering a combo pastrami-corned beef sandwich, but after tasting the pastrami, Mike knew that’s all he wanted. After ordering your sandwich, you can go to the other parts of the counter to order other dishes and drinks.

pastrami sandwich

Katz’s sandwiches are both expensive and huge, large enough to share as long as you are not starving (then, you might want your own or you might want to get a second dish). They are so filled with meat, that I found it easier to just eat the pastrami and forgo the bread – though Mike went for the sandwich experience. The pastrami was really very good, only slightly fatty, and just tasty and smoky (thought not overwhelmingly so). Sandwiches come with two types of pickles, full and half-sour, but as we don’t like pickles, they were wasted on us.

Getting to Katz’s on the subway from Times Square/Rockefeller Center was very easy, so it’s worth the trip, at least during those times when there isn’t much of a wait. You can algo get Katz’s goodies through a variety of delivery services, and they do ship nationwide.

BTW, there is no discount if your last name is “Katz“. We asked, as apparently lots of other people have (for those who are not in the US, Katz is a very common Jewish last name over here).

Katz's Delicatessen
205 East Houston Street

New York City
(212) 254-2246
Monday - Thursday: 8:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Friday 8:00 AM - Sunday 11:00 PM