Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
The history of Jewish cooking is long. Almost as long is the history of jokes about Jewish cooking. (A bad matzo ball makes a good paperweight. Hahahahaha.)
Just about everyone—with the possible exception of Jewish food joke writers—will be glad to hear that we’re in a new era of Jewish cuisine. No offense to anyone’s grandmother, but several places are using well-sourced ingredients to make superior versions of brisket, babka, and of course, matzo balls.
Here they are, the great new Jewish culinary destinations. When you visit, remember this piece of classic Jewish humor: Never leave a restaurant empty-handed.
The General Muir – Atlanta, Georgia (@thegeneralmuir)
This terrific re-imagined deli features hand-rolled bagels and schmears like dill horseradish for breakfast. Later in the day, they serve poutine with the option of house-made pastrami thrown in (brilliant), and a vegetarian reuben packed with smoked beets, gruyère, Russian dressing and sauerkraut.
The restaurant is named after the ship that brought co-owner Jennifer Johnson's mother and grandparents over to the U.S. in 1949 after surviving the Holocaust.
DGS Delicatessen – Washington, D.C. (@DGSDelicatessen)
Chef Barry Koslow makes everything—everything—in house at his contemporary deli. The chef likes to think outside the proverbial box: he laces matzo balls with duck-fat serves Schmutzy Fries with pastrami, sauerkraut and Russian dressing; and makes pastrami lo mein to boot. In the true deli spirit, he serves house-made sodas as well as a serious old-fashioned egg cream.
Wise Sons – San Francisco, California (@WiseSonsDeli)
What started as a pop-up by two deli-food-starved L.A. Guys, Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman, is now a mini chain with 3 branches around the Bay Area. The newest outpost opened last summer in the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and offers favorites like seven-hour smoked pastrami and corned beef and chocolate or cinnamon babka, plus a pretty stellar grilled cheese on challah.
They modestly say that their matzo ball soup is, “probably not as good as your Bubbie’s.”
Russ & Daughters Café – New York City (@LoxPopuli)
First things first: Russ & Daughters is one of New York's oldest and most iconic Jewish food spots. In fact, they’re turning 100 this year – Happy Anniversary! And they’ve got a little announcement to make: This May, they’ll open their first outpost, Russ & Daughters Café. Only a few blocks away from the original Lower East Side location, the café will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, and weekend brunch, too.
Fourth generation owners Nikki Russ Federman and Josh Russ Tupper describe the menu as a "Jewish smorgasbord." Of course they’ll serve the famed house smoked and cured fish; they’ll also be offering cocktails which is something you couldn’t get with your pickled herring and sable.
Abe Fisher – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (@diz_and_abe)
Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook (the team behind the much beloved Zahav and Federal Donuts) will be launching Abe Fisher, a formal-ish restaurant serving food from the Jewish disapora, with influence from New York, Montreal, France, and other places thrown in there too. Among the small plates will be specialties like corned pork belly with pretzel challah.
The duo will also open Dizengoff, a hummusiya, (Israeli-style hummus) spot where Solomonov will make his stellar version of the dip several times a day.
Wexler's Deli – Los Angeles (@wexlersdeli)
Opening soon. The former Mezze chef Micah Wexler will focus on, you guessed it, pastrami, at his 10-seat counter this spring in Downtown LA's Grand Central Market. Wexler promises house-made pickles and hand-ground brown mustard; he's spent months developing the perfect rye bread with Etxea Basque Bakery.
Follow Wexler’s on Twitter and you can watch the progression of the pickles and brisket as they prepare to open.
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