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A wooden board covered in smoked fish, cream cheese, and pickled vegetables
A fish board at Russ & Daughters Cafe
Daniel Krieger

16 Throwback Jewish Appetizing Spots in NYC

There’s nothing quite like a bagel with lox and schmear

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A fish board at Russ & Daughters Cafe
| Daniel Krieger

Appetizing shops are an NYC-bred tradition, opened in the late 1800s and early 1900s by Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants, most hailing from Eastern European countries. Historically, appetizing shops observed kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws outlining what’s considered Kosher, and only carry certain seafood (fish with scales; no crawfish or bottom-feeding species, including bivalves and mollusks) and dairy items, but no meat, as mixing meat and dairy is verboten. Pastrami, corned beef, chopped liver and other carnivorous Jewish comfort foods historically had to be sourced at delicatessens, like Katz’s and 2nd Avenue Deli.

While some of the places on this list have upheld the Kosher, strictly fish-and-dairy approach to the appetizing genre, most don’t adhere to this. Hence why one can find lobster or shrimp salad in some modern-day appetizing places, or chopped liver and pastrami in others. But in most cases, the time-honored basics that appear in any proper Jewish event’s catering spread (from bat mitzvahs to funerals) or Sunday morning brunch is defined by: buttery, salty smoked fish, a bagel, and schmear (cream cheese), ideally accessorized with onion, tomato, and capers.

The culinary genre can be overwhelming to the uninitiated. The selection might include multiple varieties and provenances of cold-smoked salmon; lox, which is cured in salt and not smoked; gravlax; which is also cured instead of smoked, but with sugar and herbs as well as salt; kippered salmon, which is hot-smoked; sable, a fish in the black cod family and often one of the priciest picks in the case; pickled and/or smoked herring, with or without sour cream-based sauce; whitefish, available both sliced and in salad form; and sturgeon.

Appetizing shops are on the decline, so restaurants offering the traditional meal are also on this list. Ahead, 16 excellent shops and restaurants to hit up when a smoked fish craving sets in.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Liebman’s Deli

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552 W 235th St
Bronx, NY 10463
(718) 548-4534
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Founded in 1958, this Riverdale deli makes the pastrami and corned beef in-house, but also offers a respectable selection of smoked fish to pair with a bagel and schmear, or in an omelet with onions. Other options include hot dogs, knishes, chopped liver, stuffed cabbage, and other Jewish comfort fare. Don’t miss the sour and half pickles. Order takeout at the counter, or slip into one of the old-school, pale blue diner booths in the narrow dining room.

A pastrami sandwich on a white plate Photographed by Adam Lerner

2. Murray's Sturgeon Shop

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2429 Broadway
New York, NY 10024
(212) 724-2650
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This pint-sized UWS smoked fish purveyor, unrelated to Murray’s Bagels or Murray’s Cheese, has been around since 1946. It’s got a reputation for slicing its smoked fish ultra-thin. The Nova smoked salmon is particularly popular, and the sable, namesake sturgeon, and whitefish are good bets, too. Other highlights include hearty Eastern European soups, such as borscht, as well as chopped liver.

Photo via Vladimir S./Yelp

3. Barney Greengrass

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541 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024
(212) 724-4707
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Another UWS go-to for all things appetizing, Barney Greengrass — dating back to 1908 — bills itself as the “Sturgeon King.” The Amsterdam Avenue shop and restaurant specializes in topnotch smoked fish, sold by the pound, in numerous scramble and omelet iterations, and in both cream cheese and egg sandwiches. There’s also respectable deli sandwiches on offer, too, including pastrami, tongue, and salami, though fish is definitely the main draw. Consider dining in, if only for the padded teal seating and kitschy wallpaper.

4. Zabar's

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2245 Broadway
New York, NY 10024
(212) 787-2000
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The excellent smoked fish selection at this UWS institution, founded by Louis Zabar in 1934 and now co-owned by his sons Saul and Stanley Zabar, is mainly sourced from Greenpoint’s Acme Smoked Fish factory in Greenpoint. Saul, now 89, has been known to make regular visits to Greenpoint to select the finest fish. Head into the grocery store and first stop by the fish counter to grab a number, before going to the bakery to pick a bagel. With that in hand, return to the fish counter so the guys slicing the melt-in-your-mouth fish can make a sandwich.

5. Eli's Market

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1415 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10028
(212) 717-8100
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In 1973, the UES got its very own Zabar: Eli, one of Zabar’s founder Saul’s sons, went across town to open up his own fine-grocery destination, EAT. Smoked salmon and other appetizing fare is available at Eli’s Market, his current flagship, but Eli underscores that he’s expanded his brand beyond the family’s Jewish deli roots: A handful of offshoots, like a wine bar and a restaurant, are all concentrated on the UES.

6. Sable's Smoked Fish

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2001, 1489 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10075
(212) 249-6177
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This narrow UES shop lined with photos of regulars was opened by Danny and Kenny Sze, who spent 12 years as managers of the appetizing department at Zabar’s before opening Sable’s. Highlights include smoked salmon, sturgeon, caviar, and the shop’s namesake, sable; the lobster salad, verboten at traditional Kosher appetizing stores, is also a popular pick here. Sable’s can be on the pricy end, but its sandwiches are stuffed with a respectable wad of fish.

7. Sarge's Delicatessen & Diner

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548 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10016
(212) 679-0442
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Pastrami sandwiches are the main draw at this Murray Hill deli, founded in 1964, but the lengthy menu of Jewish comfort food and diner classics also includes a decent range of smoked fish bagel platters, including Nova Scotia smoked salmon as well as belly lox, sturgeon, sable, and whitefish, plus herring served four different ways. The selling point: It’s probably the only place around town for a solid bagel and lox at 4 a.m., since Sarge’s is open 24/7.

Sarge’s Deli
Sarge’s Deli
Photo via Sarge’s Deli

8. 2nd Ave Deli

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162 E 33rd St
New York, NY 10016
(212) 689-9000
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This venerable Jewish deli dates back to 1954, and, like Sarge’s, is best known for its deli meats, as well as old-fashioned, lesser-seen dishes like derma, a type of grain-filled sausage, and cholent, a bean stew. But there’s also an “appetizing corner” of the menu, with salmon served various ways as well as herring and whitefish, available as a sandwich, or a shareable platter that comes with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, olives, capers, scallions, cole slaw, and potato salad. However, since 2nd Ave. Deli is Kosher, note that the cream cheese here is parve (a term for ingredients that are neither meat nor dairy), so for a real-deal schmear made from dairy, head elsewhere.

9. Sadelle's

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463 W Broadway
New York, NY 10012
(212) 776-4926
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In contrast to the city’s longtime appetizing O.G.s, Sadelle’s is Major Food Group’s quite luxurious interpretation of an appetizing shop and restaurant, located on a tony stretch of West Broadway in Soho. There are kitschy if fun touches, like hot bagels piled on a wooden baton. Takeout and catering are available, but for the full experience, opt to dine in. Here, smoked fish isn’t just piled on a plate; it’s lavishly arranged in a multitiered fruits de mer-esque presentation to share, for a three-digit price tag. A more affordable option for one or two people: one type of fish, like the house-cured salmon or smoked Scottish salmon, with a bagel and the usual fixings, for $24 to $25.

A tower with smoked salmon next to a tower of bagels
Sadelle’s Fish Tower
Photo by Nick Solares

10. Frankel's Delicatessen & Appetizing

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631 Manhattan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 389-2302
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This Greenpoint spot, opened by brothers and UWS natives Zach and Alex Frankel in 2016, is one of the youngest appetizing shops in the game. More than just inspired by genre institutions like Barney Greengrass and Russ & Daughters, Frankel’s looks remarkably similar to the latter, down to the backlit signage on its shelving. There are four varieties of salmon on offer here: eastern nova, pastrami, scottish, and kippered, all available with cream cheese and “the works” (tomato, onion, and capers). Or, try the number one sandwich, featuring pastrami salmon, scallion cream cheese, and dill cucumbers on a bagel.

11. Russ & Daughters

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179 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 475-4880 ext. 1
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Family-owned Russ & Daughters is NYC’s legendary grand dame of appetizing shops, miraculously situated in the same East Houston Street digs since 1920. (The business began as a pushcart peddling herring from a barrel, followed by a storefront on Orchard Street in 1914, before settling into its current location six years later.) It’s now run by fourth-generation cousins Josh Russ Tupper and Niki Russ Federman, who have kept this original location very traditional while opening more modern cafes around town. It’s impossible to go wrong with any variety of smoked fish; cream cheeses and dried fruit are also long-time staples here. Expect very long lines around any Jewish holiday and on weekends.

12. Katz's Delicatessen

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205 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 254-2246
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Katz’s is justifiably revered for its house-cured pastrami sandwiches, which is what made it famous. But the LES institution, opened in 1888, sells lox as well, served just two ways: on a bagel with cream cheese and classic fixings, or as an egg scramble with onions, accompanied by a potato pancake. Those in the know always grab a hot dog while waiting in line for the other options.

13. Baz Bagel & Restaurant

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181 Grand St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 335-0609
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Barney Greengrass alum David Heffernan and former Rubirosa GM Bari Musacchio opened up this pretty daytime restaurant in 2014, the name a cheeky reference to Barbra Streisand. The stylish, modern decor nods subtly to old-school luncheonettes and appetizing shops and basically begs to be Instagrammed —as does the “pretty in pink” sandwich, featuring Nova salmon atop rosy-hued beet and horseradish cream cheese, pictured here. The bagels are made on-premises and the smoked fish is impressive, and for those wanting to sample the selection, it’s offered as combinations of three or four fish and/or salads.

14. Zucker's Bagels & Smoked Fish

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146 Chambers St
New York, NY 10007
(212) 608-5844
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This relative newcomer to the NYC bagel scene was opened in 1994 by native New Yorker and first-time restaurateur Matt Pomerantz. He left a finance career to open the new family business with his parents, who owned a clothing store on the LES for over three decades, back when the neighborhood was home to many Jewish immigrants and, subsequently, old-school Jewish restaurants. Find all the fixings for a bagel feast: several types of fish and salads, smoked meats, and many cream cheeses, as well as egg sandwiches popular with the finance crowd. In addition to the Tribeca original, there are now Flatiron, UWS, and Midtown East locations as well.

15. Shelsky's of Brooklyn: Appetizing & Delicatessen

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141 Court St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 855-8817
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Opened in 2011, Shelsky’s is a modern appetizing shop meant to look and feel a bit retro, in a good way. Grab a number and wait for myriad varieties of lox, luscious sable, and more, sliced to order. The pastrami salmon is particularly excellent, but skip the salmon jerky. Or, eschew the fish for the Dr. Goldstein Special, named after a fictitious cardiologist and featuring chopped liver and apple horseradish sauce wedged between two schmaltz-fried latkes. Grab some housemade rugelach for later.

Shelsky’s Photo via Yelp/Shelsky’s

16. Avenue P Appetizers & Bagels

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466 Avenue P
Brooklyn, NY 11223
(718) 339-7202
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This no-frills Kosher Gravesend shop serves up smoked fish on freshly-baked bagels at bargain prices for appetizing fare: it’s just $10 for a lox or sable sandwich. There’s also chopped liver, pickled herring, and various spreads and salads available at the counter-serve store. Note that Avenue P Appetizers & Bagels observes Shabbat, so it’s closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

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1. Liebman’s Deli

552 W 235th St, Bronx, NY 10463
A pastrami sandwich on a white plate Photographed by Adam Lerner

Founded in 1958, this Riverdale deli makes the pastrami and corned beef in-house, but also offers a respectable selection of smoked fish to pair with a bagel and schmear, or in an omelet with onions. Other options include hot dogs, knishes, chopped liver, stuffed cabbage, and other Jewish comfort fare. Don’t miss the sour and half pickles. Order takeout at the counter, or slip into one of the old-school, pale blue diner booths in the narrow dining room.

552 W 235th St
Bronx, NY 10463

2. Murray's Sturgeon Shop

2429 Broadway, New York, NY 10024
Photo via Vladimir S./Yelp

This pint-sized UWS smoked fish purveyor, unrelated to Murray’s Bagels or Murray’s Cheese, has been around since 1946. It’s got a reputation for slicing its smoked fish ultra-thin. The Nova smoked salmon is particularly popular, and the sable, namesake sturgeon, and whitefish are good bets, too. Other highlights include hearty Eastern European soups, such as borscht, as well as chopped liver.

2429 Broadway
New York, NY 10024

3. Barney Greengrass

541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

Another UWS go-to for all things appetizing, Barney Greengrass — dating back to 1908 — bills itself as the “Sturgeon King.” The Amsterdam Avenue shop and restaurant specializes in topnotch smoked fish, sold by the pound, in numerous scramble and omelet iterations, and in both cream cheese and egg sandwiches. There’s also respectable deli sandwiches on offer, too, including pastrami, tongue, and salami, though fish is definitely the main draw. Consider dining in, if only for the padded teal seating and kitschy wallpaper.

541 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024

4. Zabar's

2245 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

The excellent smoked fish selection at this UWS institution, founded by Louis Zabar in 1934 and now co-owned by his sons Saul and Stanley Zabar, is mainly sourced from Greenpoint’s Acme Smoked Fish factory in Greenpoint. Saul, now 89, has been known to make regular visits to Greenpoint to select the finest fish. Head into the grocery store and first stop by the fish counter to grab a number, before going to the bakery to pick a bagel. With that in hand, return to the fish counter so the guys slicing the melt-in-your-mouth fish can make a sandwich.

2245 Broadway
New York, NY 10024

5. Eli's Market

1415 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10028

In 1973, the UES got its very own Zabar: Eli, one of Zabar’s founder Saul’s sons, went across town to open up his own fine-grocery destination, EAT. Smoked salmon and other appetizing fare is available at Eli’s Market, his current flagship, but Eli underscores that he’s expanded his brand beyond the family’s Jewish deli roots: A handful of offshoots, like a wine bar and a restaurant, are all concentrated on the UES.

1415 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10028

6. Sable's Smoked Fish

2001, 1489 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10075

This narrow UES shop lined with photos of regulars was opened by Danny and Kenny Sze, who spent 12 years as managers of the appetizing department at Zabar’s before opening Sable’s. Highlights include smoked salmon, sturgeon, caviar, and the shop’s namesake, sable; the lobster salad, verboten at traditional Kosher appetizing stores, is also a popular pick here. Sable’s can be on the pricy end, but its sandwiches are stuffed with a respectable wad of fish.

2001, 1489 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10075

7. Sarge's Delicatessen & Diner

548 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016
Sarge’s Deli
Sarge’s Deli
Photo via Sarge’s Deli

Pastrami sandwiches are the main draw at this Murray Hill deli, founded in 1964, but the lengthy menu of Jewish comfort food and diner classics also includes a decent range of smoked fish bagel platters, including Nova Scotia smoked salmon as well as belly lox, sturgeon, sable, and whitefish, plus herring served four different ways. The selling point: It’s probably the only place around town for a solid bagel and lox at 4 a.m., since Sarge’s is open 24/7.

548 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10016

8. 2nd Ave Deli

162 E 33rd St, New York, NY 10016

This venerable Jewish deli dates back to 1954, and, like Sarge’s, is best known for its deli meats, as well as old-fashioned, lesser-seen dishes like derma, a type of grain-filled sausage, and cholent, a bean stew. But there’s also an “appetizing corner” of the menu, with salmon served various ways as well as herring and whitefish, available as a sandwich, or a shareable platter that comes with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, olives, capers, scallions, cole slaw, and potato salad. However, since 2nd Ave. Deli is Kosher, note that the cream cheese here is parve (a term for ingredients that are neither meat nor dairy), so for a real-deal schmear made from dairy, head elsewhere.

162 E 33rd St
New York, NY 10016

9. Sadelle's

463 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012
A tower with smoked salmon next to a tower of bagels
Sadelle’s Fish Tower
Photo by Nick Solares

In contrast to the city’s longtime appetizing O.G.s, Sadelle’s is Major Food Group’s quite luxurious interpretation of an appetizing shop and restaurant, located on a tony stretch of West Broadway in Soho. There are kitschy if fun touches, like hot bagels piled on a wooden baton. Takeout and catering are available, but for the full experience, opt to dine in. Here, smoked fish isn’t just piled on a plate; it’s lavishly arranged in a multitiered fruits de mer-esque presentation to share, for a three-digit price tag. A more affordable option for one or two people: one type of fish, like the house-cured salmon or smoked Scottish salmon, with a bagel and the usual fixings, for $24 to $25.

463 W Broadway
New York, NY 10012

10. Frankel's Delicatessen & Appetizing

631 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222

This Greenpoint spot, opened by brothers and UWS natives Zach and Alex Frankel in 2016, is one of the youngest appetizing shops in the game. More than just inspired by genre institutions like Barney Greengrass and Russ & Daughters, Frankel’s looks remarkably similar to the latter, down to the backlit signage on its shelving. There are four varieties of salmon on offer here: eastern nova, pastrami, scottish, and kippered, all available with cream cheese and “the works” (tomato, onion, and capers). Or, try the number one sandwich, featuring pastrami salmon, scallion cream cheese, and dill cucumbers on a bagel.

631 Manhattan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222

11. Russ & Daughters

179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

Family-owned Russ & Daughters is NYC’s legendary grand dame of appetizing shops, miraculously situated in the same East Houston Street digs since 1920. (The business began as a pushcart peddling herring from a barrel, followed by a storefront on Orchard Street in 1914, before settling into its current location six years later.) It’s now run by fourth-generation cousins Josh Russ Tupper and Niki Russ Federman, who have kept this original location very traditional while opening more modern cafes around town. It’s impossible to go wrong with any variety of smoked fish; cream cheeses and dried fruit are also long-time staples here. Expect very long lines around any Jewish holiday and on weekends.

179 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002

12. Katz's Delicatessen

205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

Katz’s is justifiably revered for its house-cured pastrami sandwiches, which is what made it famous. But the LES institution, opened in 1888, sells lox as well, served just two ways: on a bagel with cream cheese and classic fixings, or as an egg scramble with onions, accompanied by a potato pancake. Those in the know always grab a hot dog while waiting in line for the other options.

205 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002

13. Baz Bagel & Restaurant

181 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

Barney Greengrass alum David Heffernan and former Rubirosa GM Bari Musacchio opened up this pretty daytime restaurant in 2014, the name a cheeky reference to Barbra Streisand. The stylish, modern decor nods subtly to old-school luncheonettes and appetizing shops and basically begs to be Instagrammed —as does the “pretty in pink” sandwich, featuring Nova salmon atop rosy-hued beet and horseradish cream cheese, pictured here. The bagels are made on-premises and the smoked fish is impressive, and for those wanting to sample the selection, it’s offered as combinations of three or four fish and/or salads.

181 Grand St
New York, NY 10013

14. Zucker's Bagels & Smoked Fish

146 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007

This relative newcomer to the NYC bagel scene was opened in 1994 by native New Yorker and first-time restaurateur Matt Pomerantz. He left a finance career to open the new family business with his parents, who owned a clothing store on the LES for over three decades, back when the neighborhood was home to many Jewish immigrants and, subsequently, old-school Jewish restaurants. Find all the fixings for a bagel feast: several types of fish and salads, smoked meats, and many cream cheeses, as well as egg sandwiches popular with the finance crowd. In addition to the Tribeca original, there are now Flatiron, UWS, and Midtown East locations as well.

146 Chambers St
New York, NY 10007

15. Shelsky's of Brooklyn: Appetizing & Delicatessen

141 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Shelsky’s Photo via Yelp/Shelsky’s

Opened in 2011, Shelsky’s is a modern appetizing shop meant to look and feel a bit retro, in a good way. Grab a number and wait for myriad varieties of lox, luscious sable, and more, sliced to order. The pastrami salmon is particularly excellent, but skip the salmon jerky. Or, eschew the fish for the Dr. Goldstein Special, named after a fictitious cardiologist and featuring chopped liver and apple horseradish sauce wedged between two schmaltz-fried latkes. Grab some housemade rugelach for later.

141 Court St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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16. Avenue P Appetizers & Bagels

466 Avenue P, Brooklyn, NY 11223

This no-frills Kosher Gravesend shop serves up smoked fish on freshly-baked bagels at bargain prices for appetizing fare: it’s just $10 for a lox or sable sandwich. There’s also chopped liver, pickled herring, and various spreads and salads available at the counter-serve store. Note that Avenue P Appetizers & Bagels observes Shabbat, so it’s closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

466 Avenue P
Brooklyn, NY 11223

Related Maps