From babkas to black and white cookies, and challah to honey cakes, few food cultures are as emblematic of New York as Jewish baked goods. This bakery scene in NYC reflects the many Jewish communities in the city, from the diverse enclaves of the Upper East and West Sides to the ultra-Orthodox in South Williamsburg, the Sephardic in Flatbush, and the Bukharian community in Forest Hills. Modern interpreters like Breads and Michaeli Bakery sell buttery, croissant-like babka, and storied shops like Sander’s trace their roots to the mid-20th century, showcasing recipes that generations of customers have grown up on.
To experience these bakeries is to taste sweet and savory pastries that are steeped in tradition yet ever-evolving — and to share in the long and rich history of the Jewish diaspora. “Jewish baked goods are so closely tied to particular Jewish cultures, religious practices, and palates,” explains author Rabbi Joshua Plaut, Ph.D., of the American Friends of Rabin Medical Center in downtown Manhattan.
After tasting countless baked goods at 33 spots across New York City, here are 13 stand-out Jewish bakeries stocked with everything from apple cakes to za’atar galils. (Note: Bagel shops and grocers are not included.)
Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it also poses a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.
John Tsung is a cultural writer and multidisciplinary artist whose work explores immigrant narratives and the Asian American experience, among other themes. You can find his work here.