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Second Ave. Deli

162 E. 33rd St., New York, NY - (212) 689-9000
Posted By Michael Stern on 2/28/2009 11:01:00 PM
The Second Avenue Deli has moved to Third Avenue, at 33rd Street, but it remains a citadel of kosher food and downtown deli service. You know this when you begin a meal not only with the familiar array of sour and half-sour pickles, but with a bowl of gribenes, which are the unbelievably luxurious leftovers from rendering chicken fat. They are squiggles and nibbles of skin along with limp caramelized shreds of onion that have been fried in the golden, full-flavored oil. Dangerous to munch before a meal because they are so addictive, gribenes are the world's best complement to one of the world's top chopped livers – smooth-flavored but ragged enough for textural excitement, insanely rich the way only organ meat can be, and yet fresh and sparkling the way liver so seldom is.

The deli sandwiches are definitive. While not the largest, they are piled high enough with meat that they still are barely pickupable. Pastrami is especially excellent, more smoky than spicy; and unless you pay $2 extra for lean meat, it comes just-right fatty.

Meals are topped off with a complimentary shotglass chocolate phosphate ("Bosco and seltzer," explains the waitress.) Second Ave.'s kitchen actually is kosher, meaning you can't get cheese on a sandwich and instead of butter to spread on bread, you may have to settle for chicken fat.

10 out of 13 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Hot Pastrami Sandwich
Matzoh Brei
Chopped Liver
Pickle Tray
Gribenes
Rye Bread
Blintzes
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Three hefty blintzes comprise an order. They are available filled with potato, blueberry, apple, cherry or what is known as parve cheese, a perfectly fine substitute for actual dairy cheese.
"Three hefty blintzes comprise an order. They are available filled with potato, blueberry, apple, cherry or what is known as parve cheese, a perfectly fine substitute for actual dairy cheese."
Michael Stern





Mea Culpa! I forgot my camera and had to photograph my excellent 2nd Avenue Deli lunch with a crappy cell phone. This blurry image does little to convey the luxuriant sparkle of crisp-fried chicken skin under a mantle of caramelized onions.
"Mea Culpa! I forgot my camera and had to photograph my excellent 2nd Avenue Deli lunch with a crappy cell phone. This blurry image does little to convey the luxuriant sparkle of crisp-fried chicken skin under a mantle of caramelized onions."
Michael Stern


Another second rate Blackberry image of a first class sandwich: steaming hot pastrami piled high twixt rye.
"Another second rate Blackberry image of a first class sandwich: steaming hot pastrami piled high twixt rye."
Michael Stern


What a great way to snap taste buds to attention: the classic silver tray of sour and half-sour pickles, plus a puckery pickled tomato.
"What a great way to snap taste buds to attention: the classic silver tray of sour and half-sour pickles, plus a puckery pickled tomato."
Michael Stern


My one big complaint about the Second Avenue Deli is that the rye bread is soft and pale and soulless. I discussed this with the woman at the cash register and she shrugged knowingly, saying that the good old bread with its glossy crust and chewy sourdough body is just too difficult to obtain.
"My one big complaint about the Second Avenue Deli is that the rye bread is soft and pale and soulless. I discussed this with the woman at the cash register and she shrugged knowingly, saying that the good old bread with its glossy crust and chewy sourdough body is just too difficult to obtain."
Michael Stern


Fellow Roadfooder Wanderingjew and I split this order of what I like to call 'Jewish cracklins''.  Deep fried chicken skins with a liberal dose of intensely caramelized onions are a once-every-five-years kind of treat.
"Fellow Roadfooder Wanderingjew and I split this order of what I like to call 'Jewish cracklins''. Deep fried chicken skins with a liberal dose of intensely caramelized onions are a once-every-five-years kind of treat."
Bill Homan


With an assertive dill flavor and poured from a silver cup into the bowl tableside, this is some of the best mushroom barley soup I have had anywhere.
"With an assertive dill flavor and poured from a silver cup into the bowl tableside, this is some of the best mushroom barley soup I have had anywhere."
Bill Homan


I didn't try these blintzes but one of my dining companions very much enjoyed them.
"I didn't try these blintzes but one of my dining companions very much enjoyed them."
Bill Homan


Potato pierogen with those wickedly caramelized onions.
"Potato pierogen with those wickedly caramelized onions."
Bill Homan


Fairly standard baked beans in tomato sauce but quite comforting nonetheless.
"Fairly standard baked beans in tomato sauce but quite comforting nonetheless."
Bill Homan


Hot pastrami and hot corned beef, each on its own junior roll.  I've had better elsewhere in NYC but this was mighty tasty.
"Hot pastrami and hot corned beef, each on its own junior roll. I've had better elsewhere in NYC but this was mighty tasty."
Bill Homan


The half pastrami sandwich and soup combo is a perfect way to warm up on a cold winter's night.
"The half pastrami sandwich and soup combo is a perfect way to warm up on a cold winter's night."
Bill Homan


In a city with many fry options these stand up very well in the crowd.
"In a city with many fry options these stand up very well in the crowd."
Bill Homan


Being a Kosher deli, Bosco chocolate & seltzer shots (sans dairy) are a nice touch and a perfect digestive after a filling meal of tasty cured meats.
"Being a Kosher deli, Bosco chocolate & seltzer shots (sans dairy) are a nice touch and a perfect digestive after a filling meal of tasty cured meats."
Bill Homan


While they may no longer reside on 2nd Ave. the name still brings those in search of classic deli and appetizing to the Midtown East-Kips Bays area of NYC.
"While they may no longer reside on 2nd Ave. the name still brings those in search of classic deli and appetizing to the Midtown East-Kips Bays area of NYC."
Bill Homan


A rendering of the old neighborhood.
"A rendering of the old neighborhood."
Bill Homan



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