2 Jewish delis and a modest falafel joint are among the ‘100 best restaurants in NYC’


(New York Jewish Week) — The legacy Upper West Side appetizing store Barney Greengrass and the hot new “Jewish luncheonette” S&P are among the Jewish eateries on the New York Times’ list of the city’s top 100 restaurants of 2023.

Other Jewish and Jewish-adjacent restaurants on the list are Falafel Tanami, an unassuming kosher falafel counter in Midwood, Brooklyn, and Mark’s Off Madison, which offers eggplant parm alongside smoked fish, freshly baked bagels and Jewish rye bread.

The list, compiled by restaurant critic Pete Wells, includes 65 spots in Manhattan, 19 each in Brooklyn and Queens, four in the Bronx and two in Staten Island.

Barney Greengrass, a neighborhood icon on 541 Amsterdam Ave. that has been open since 1908, is feted for its herring, latkes, scrambled eggs and smoked fish. 

At Flatiron’s S&P Lunch (174 5th Ave.), which reopened and reinvented the classic Eisenberg’s deli in 2022, Wells calls a lunch there a “time-honored Manhattan ritual.” With the updated menu, “the pastrami, tuna-salad, chopped liver and so on are as easy to love as the atmosphere was all along.”

Matzo Ball chicken soup from Mark’s Off Madison. (Courtesy)

Wells calls Mark’s Off Madison, a bakery and restaurant, a “career retrospective” from Mark Strausman, who once was the chef at Freds at Barneys and Campagna. 

As for Falafel Tanami (1305 East 17th St.), “Your options are basically falafel or sabich,” Wells writes, referring to its fried eggplant and hard-boiled egg sandwich. “The falafel are extraordinary. The thick cushions of pita, baked to order, may be better yet.” The food is “as fresh as if you were standing in a market in Tel Aviv.” 

Also mentioned is the Lower East Side’s Shopsin’s General Store, which occupies Stall #8 in Essex Street Market (88 Essex St.). The eponymous diner and its extensive menu was run by the Jewish and famously eccentric Kenny Shopsin from 1973 until his death in 2018. “Seeing the restaurant he founded on this list would kill Kenny Shopsin if he weren’t already dead,” Wells writes. 

Nearby at 86 Allen St. is Amanda Cohen’s vegan restaurant Dirt Candy, number 60 on the list, which has been open since 2008. “I have a big family and we spend a lot of time together around the Jewish holidays, so to me that’s always been a really important time in my life,” Cohen told Life & Thyme in 2016. “Those are certainly the moments I love food the most, because it’s about the people.”

Israeli-inspired Middle Eastern restaurant Shukette (230 9th Ave.), whose name is a riff on the Hebrew and Arabic word “shuk,” meaning market, gets a nod, though Brooklyn-born chef Ayesha Nurdjaja is neither Jewish, Israeli or Arab. Wells names the spicy house pickles, labneh, hummus, pita and laffa brushed with za’atar in a mouthwatering sequence.