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A sandwich on rye piled high with thin-sliced pink meat.
Nothing tenderer than the tongue sandwich at PJ Bernstein.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

19 Vital Jewish Delis in NYC

Where to find the best hot pastrami and tongue, gefilte fish, and matzo ball soup

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Nothing tenderer than the tongue sandwich at PJ Bernstein.
| Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Jewish delis were once the backbone of the New York food scene, but in the modern age their numbers have greatly diminished. Everything from low-fat dieting trends to anti-meat preferences over the last couple of decades has had an effect, but so have newer and more faddish forms of food that make hot pastrami, gefilte fish, and matzo ball soup seem hopelessly old-fashioned. Luckily, in the New York City area, there are plenty of delis left, even though the pandemic has wiped out several permanently, including Jay & Lloyd’s in Sheepshead Bay, Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop in the Flatiron, and Fine & Schapiro on the Upper West Side. Meanwhile, places with a new approach to deli cuisine, like Edith’s Sandwich Counter, are opening up and giving another boost to a New York classic.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Liebman's Kosher Deli

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This kosher Riverdale institution was founded in 1958 by the Dekel family and still flourishes under the same ownership. Revel in the old-fashioned ambiance, including sea-blue naugahyde booths, pale beige walls, wood-grained formica, and copious neon in the front windows, through which one spies a luscious display of hot dogs and Liebman’s signature round knishes. Sandwiches are of the overstuffed variety, with both pastrami and corned beef cured on the premises. Be sure to get gravy on your fries.

The glass window of a storefront with neon letters that read: “Liebman’s Delicatessen, Caterers.”
Find Liebman’s on Riverdale’s main shopping street.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Barney Greengrass

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Styling itself as the “Sturgeon King,” this 1908 repository of preserved fish on the Upper West Side is also a fully functional meat deli, with notably normal-sized sandwiches (pastrami, tongue, turkey, salami, and chopped liver) at prices a bit below par. There are some crossover favorites, too, such as pastrami-cured salmon on a bagel and a tongue omelet. One of the best reasons to go here is the dining room, with nicely padded chairs and goofy retro wallpaper.

A small, empty restaurant with historical wallpaper
Barney Greengrass’s interior sports pictorial wallpaper.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pastrami Queen

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This microscopic kosher deli has been an Upper East Side mainstay since 1998, when it moved from Kew Gardens, Queens, to the present location, and swapped names from Pastrami King to Pastrami Queen. The pastrami is sliced thick and crumbly by machine — though it almost seems hand sliced — and the sandwiches on rye are of the overstuffed variety. Other recommendations: garlic fries and the epic potato pancake, but skip the matzo ball soup. A newer larger version appeared not long ago on the Upper West Side.

A sizable potato latke takes up a whole plate, next to a side of apple sauce
Pastrami Queen’s potato latke.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

PJ Bernstein

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This place, founded in 1965, shows how the Jewish deli has evolved since the late 19th century. By no means kosher, you can get bagels with eggs and bacon, as well as hot meat sandwiches with melted cheese. Nevertheless, a solid core of dishes remains, including some not so easy to find at delis with shorter menus. Matzo brei is a scramble of eggs and broken up-matzos, served with applesauce. Among hot sandwiches, the pastrami is good, sliced perhaps too thin but seething with flavor, while the sleeper among sandwiches is hot pickled tongue — such tenderness is rare among tongue sandwiches.

Yellow scrambled eggs with some matzo black at the edges peeping out.
Matzo brei at PJ Bernstein.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Brooklyn Diner USA

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This Brooklyn-themed tourist trap has a core menu of Jewish deli favorites, including decent pastrami that’s better in a hash with eggs than in a sandwich. The matzo ball soup is top-notch, and so is the comically large all-beef hot dog, which weighs in at nearly a pound and constitutes a full meal. Chocolate babka and noodle kugel are other classic deli orders, at this place with an interior intended to evoke a 1940s diner.

A large ball of matzah sits in broth, topped with celery, carrot, chicken, and dill
Matzo ball soup is lush with vegetables.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ben's Kosher Delicatessen

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This kosher Garment Distric fixture, a chain originating in Long Island, took over the humongous space (seating 360) two decades ago. The premises was once a deli called Lou G. Siegel, which had been in this location since 1917. The combination of the two creates one of the oldest continuously operating delis in town. The sprawling menu here is sometimes hit or miss, but the hot tongue is superb. The pastrami is good but not fantastic. Don’t miss the glistening gefilte fish, but skip the too-sweet cabbage soup.

A large neon sign in red lettering sits on the side of the building and reads: “Ben’s Restaurant: Chicken Soup Cures Everything”
Ben’s in the Garment Center.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Sarge's Delicatessen

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Founded in 1964, this Murray Hill fixture named after a police officer is open every evening till 11 p.m., a rarity these days. Sporting Tiffany-style lamp shades, dimpled naugahyde booths, and hanging salamis, it was closed by a grease fire in 2012 and remained closed until early 2014. The pastrami is fine-grained and mild, and sandwiches arrive extravagantly stuffed. Tongue, rolled beef, hot brisket, and turkey pastrami are also worth considering. But think twice about the sandwich known as "the Monster," piled to absurd heights with corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, fresh turkey, and salami. Breakfasts and burgers also available, all day.

A piece of rye bread is precariously placed on top of a heap of pastrami
Sarge’s enormous pastrami sandwich.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pastrami House Delicatessen

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This offshoot of a Lincroft, New Jersey establishment on Hoboken’s main drag offers a very full deli menu, including some invented surprises. That means all the usual square and round knishes, split pea and matzo ball soups, kasha varnishkas, bagels and lox, and potato latkes, in addition to stranger additions like a mini Reuben in a hot dog bun and pastrami chili con carne. The pastrami, by the way, is quite good, while the corned beef verges on the rubbery.

Two halves of a pastrami sandwich rest in a to-go container beside a half-pickle and side of coleslaw
Pastrami at Hoboken’s Pastrami House.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

2nd Ave Deli

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This old-fashioned kosher deli was founded in 1954 by Abe Lebewohl in the East Village, along a strip of Second Avenue known as the Yiddish Broadway for all its Jewish theaters. In 2006, a landlord dispute forced the neighborhood fixture to move to Murray Hill. There is now also an Upper East Side branch. While the pastrami is good, the corned beef is better. The place has long been celebrated for its cholent — a bean stew — and derma, also known as kishka, a creamy sausage incorporating grain and meat in a cow intestine. The challah French toast is a longtime East Village classic, now rarely seen in its home neighborhood.

A woman stands under a blue awning with the words: “2nd Ave Deli”
The original 2nd Ave Deli was in the East Village.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hobby's Delicatessen

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Located on a side street in downtown Newark, and open only during the daytime — except on hockey game days — Hobby’s is one of the country’s most enduring Jewish delis, in the same family since 1962. There’s a large dining room lined with reminders of the city’s history. The pastrami is gloriously greasy and smoky, with tongue the second-best meat choice, and roast brisket the third. All three come on a sandwich called the "Hat Trick." Currently closed, it’s slated to reopen May 1 of this year.

Customers sit together in pairs and small groups in a diner featuring with leftover holiday decorations and American flags
The timeworn interior of Hobby’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Frankel's Delicatessen

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It was something of a modern miracle when Frankel's appeared in Greenpoint, just above the Nassau stop on the G. It perfectly captured the spirit of an old-fashioned deli from early in the last century, with its gleaming interior, counter ordering, neon sign, and white enamelware trays. The pastrami is of the newfangled sort — hand sliced, perhaps overly smoky, and intensely flavorful. Appetizing fish also available, and don’t miss the hot dog.

A woman stands at the counter of a small cafe, bagels are hung on the wall, as are a series of neon signs that read: Nova, Caviar, Latkes, Chopped Liver, and Bagels
Frankel’s interior — order at the counter.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Katz's Delicatessen

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Located at the heart of what’s left of the “Jewish Lower East Side,” Katz’s is quite simply the city’s — and maybe the nation's — best deli. Hand-cut behind a glass counter in thick, steaming slices, the pastrami is the superior deli meat, with roast brisket coming in second, while the corned beef lags a bit in tenderness but not flavor. The sausage called knoblewurst is absolutely delicious and garlicky as all get out, and the hot dogs are a delight, too. Don’t miss the green tomato pickles, but skip the soggy French fries. Marvel at the interior, at least partly dating to the 1880s.

A thick pastrami sandwich on rye is cut in half on a plate.
Pastrami on rye is Katz’s signature.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Russ & Daughters Cafe

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This spinoff from Russ & Daughters offers deli classics like chopped liver, matzo ball soup, and potato knishes. The emphasis is on preserved fish, of course, as it is at Barney Greengrass, but the pastrami smoked salmon on a pretzel roll more than makes up for the the lack of actual pastrami. The serpentine space, cheerily decorated in white and powder blue, extends from Orchard to Allen streets, and seems as old as its original location.

Two mini potato knish sit on a plate next to a metal side serving cup on a ceramic plate
Mini potato knishes.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Edith’s Sandwich Counter

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A little over a year old, Williamsburg’s Edith’s Sandwich Counter (there’s also a grocery and bakery on Leonard Street) seeks to redefine the Jewish deli as we know it. There’s a coffee slushie with tahini instead of milk; a bagel sandwich with egg, bacon, cheese, and a latke inside; and, perhaps best of all, a Philly-style cheese steak sandwich using pastrami instead of Steak-umms. There are tables outside but nowhere to sit inside, but don’t hold that against them — the sandwiches are really exciting.

Two halves of a hero at perpendicular angles, with pastrami and cheese visible inside.
Pastrami cheesesteak at Edith’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Gottlieb's Restaurant

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Located in the Satmar Chassidic neighborhood of Southside Williamsburg, Gottlieb’s is a venerable kosher classic, clad in wood and looking like it’s still stuck in the '60s. Available in two sizes, the sandwiches here run to pastrami, corned beef, tongue, turkey breast, salami, and roast beef. The place also has a sub-specialty in Chinese-Jewish fare. The Hungarian goulash is particularly commendable, as is the gefilte fish.

The front of a restaurant with faded neon lettering in the windows. The sign reads: Gottlieb’s Restaurant, Delicatessen, Catering
Gottlieb’s kosher deli.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Junior's Restaurant

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A Downtown Brooklyn stalwart since 1950, Junior's has a jazzy and brightly-lit façade shining late into the night, and it's handy to the Manhattan Bridge. Junior’s was once mainly a more purely Jewish deli, but in the intervening years it has added diner food and neighborhood specialties to its menu, from jerk chicken to catfish fingers to eggplant parm. These are of indifferent quality, so stick to the Jewish deli specialties for a fine meal, including pastrami and corned beef on twin miniature onion rolls, split pea soup, chopped chicken liver, and the dense and delectable cheesecake, which many consider the city’s best.

Groups of people sit at tables and waiters take their order in a busy diner
Junior’s is open late into the night.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Mile End Delicatessen

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As if it had been picked up in Quebec and brought here by a cyclone, Mile End (named after a Montreal neighborhood) specializes in hand-sliced “smoked meat,” the Canadian answer to pastrami. It’s got a slightly different constellation of spices, a bit more sweetness and ruby color, and, in general, less smokiness. Other sandwiches — such as the salami-based Ruth Wilensky — reflect Jewish-Canadian food attitudes. Schnitzels and matzo ball soup round out the menu.

A charcoal-colored building with the word “DELICATESSEN” painted above its large windows.
Mile End serves Canadian-Jewish food.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

David's Brisket House

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This place was once an ancient Jewish deli — until it was taken over, first by Jamaicans and then by Yemenite Muslims. The latter kept the menu mainly intact, proving that kosher and halal are in nearly perfect accord. Today, David’s constitutes a beacon of warm deli meats in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and visitors of all stripes drop by for its specialty: roast brisket on a roll with gravy. The pastrami and corned beef are also quite good, too, as are the cheese-dressed fries.

Two halves of a brisket sandwich on a club roll with gravy, accompanied by four pickle spears
David’s halal brisket with gravy sandwich.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Mill Basin Kosher Deli

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A deli that doubles as an art gallery? This kosher deli in the Mill Basin neighborhood of Brooklyn does just that. The hot dogs are particularly fine and can be enjoyed while eyeballing Lichtenstein and Calder prints, and original paintings, most far less distinguished. While the stuffed derma is a bit gluey, the garlicwurst is excellent. The pastrami could use a little more oomph, but the matzo ball soup is first rate, especially with noodles.

An eggroll with a fried shell cut open to show the red meat inside.
Mill Basin’s pastrami eggroll.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Liebman's Kosher Deli

The glass window of a storefront with neon letters that read: “Liebman’s Delicatessen, Caterers.”
Find Liebman’s on Riverdale’s main shopping street.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This kosher Riverdale institution was founded in 1958 by the Dekel family and still flourishes under the same ownership. Revel in the old-fashioned ambiance, including sea-blue naugahyde booths, pale beige walls, wood-grained formica, and copious neon in the front windows, through which one spies a luscious display of hot dogs and Liebman’s signature round knishes. Sandwiches are of the overstuffed variety, with both pastrami and corned beef cured on the premises. Be sure to get gravy on your fries.

The glass window of a storefront with neon letters that read: “Liebman’s Delicatessen, Caterers.”
Find Liebman’s on Riverdale’s main shopping street.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Barney Greengrass

A small, empty restaurant with historical wallpaper
Barney Greengrass’s interior sports pictorial wallpaper.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Styling itself as the “Sturgeon King,” this 1908 repository of preserved fish on the Upper West Side is also a fully functional meat deli, with notably normal-sized sandwiches (pastrami, tongue, turkey, salami, and chopped liver) at prices a bit below par. There are some crossover favorites, too, such as pastrami-cured salmon on a bagel and a tongue omelet. One of the best reasons to go here is the dining room, with nicely padded chairs and goofy retro wallpaper.

A small, empty restaurant with historical wallpaper
Barney Greengrass’s interior sports pictorial wallpaper.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pastrami Queen

A sizable potato latke takes up a whole plate, next to a side of apple sauce
Pastrami Queen’s potato latke.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This microscopic kosher deli has been an Upper East Side mainstay since 1998, when it moved from Kew Gardens, Queens, to the present location, and swapped names from Pastrami King to Pastrami Queen. The pastrami is sliced thick and crumbly by machine — though it almost seems hand sliced — and the sandwiches on rye are of the overstuffed variety. Other recommendations: garlic fries and the epic potato pancake, but skip the matzo ball soup. A newer larger version appeared not long ago on the Upper West Side.

A sizable potato latke takes up a whole plate, next to a side of apple sauce
Pastrami Queen’s potato latke.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

PJ Bernstein

Yellow scrambled eggs with some matzo black at the edges peeping out.
Matzo brei at PJ Bernstein.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This place, founded in 1965, shows how the Jewish deli has evolved since the late 19th century. By no means kosher, you can get bagels with eggs and bacon, as well as hot meat sandwiches with melted cheese. Nevertheless, a solid core of dishes remains, including some not so easy to find at delis with shorter menus. Matzo brei is a scramble of eggs and broken up-matzos, served with applesauce. Among hot sandwiches, the pastrami is good, sliced perhaps too thin but seething with flavor, while the sleeper among sandwiches is hot pickled tongue — such tenderness is rare among tongue sandwiches.

Yellow scrambled eggs with some matzo black at the edges peeping out.
Matzo brei at PJ Bernstein.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Brooklyn Diner USA

A large ball of matzah sits in broth, topped with celery, carrot, chicken, and dill
Matzo ball soup is lush with vegetables.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This Brooklyn-themed tourist trap has a core menu of Jewish deli favorites, including decent pastrami that’s better in a hash with eggs than in a sandwich. The matzo ball soup is top-notch, and so is the comically large all-beef hot dog, which weighs in at nearly a pound and constitutes a full meal. Chocolate babka and noodle kugel are other classic deli orders, at this place with an interior intended to evoke a 1940s diner.

A large ball of matzah sits in broth, topped with celery, carrot, chicken, and dill
Matzo ball soup is lush with vegetables.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ben's Kosher Delicatessen

A large neon sign in red lettering sits on the side of the building and reads: “Ben’s Restaurant: Chicken Soup Cures Everything”
Ben’s in the Garment Center.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This kosher Garment Distric fixture, a chain originating in Long Island, took over the humongous space (seating 360) two decades ago. The premises was once a deli called Lou G. Siegel, which had been in this location since 1917. The combination of the two creates one of the oldest continuously operating delis in town. The sprawling menu here is sometimes hit or miss, but the hot tongue is superb. The pastrami is good but not fantastic. Don’t miss the glistening gefilte fish, but skip the too-sweet cabbage soup.

A large neon sign in red lettering sits on the side of the building and reads: “Ben’s Restaurant: Chicken Soup Cures Everything”
Ben’s in the Garment Center.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Sarge's Delicatessen

A piece of rye bread is precariously placed on top of a heap of pastrami
Sarge’s enormous pastrami sandwich.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Founded in 1964, this Murray Hill fixture named after a police officer is open every evening till 11 p.m., a rarity these days. Sporting Tiffany-style lamp shades, dimpled naugahyde booths, and hanging salamis, it was closed by a grease fire in 2012 and remained closed until early 2014. The pastrami is fine-grained and mild, and sandwiches arrive extravagantly stuffed. Tongue, rolled beef, hot brisket, and turkey pastrami are also worth considering. But think twice about the sandwich known as "the Monster," piled to absurd heights with corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, fresh turkey, and salami. Breakfasts and burgers also available, all day.

A piece of rye bread is precariously placed on top of a heap of pastrami
Sarge’s enormous pastrami sandwich.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pastrami House Delicatessen

Two halves of a pastrami sandwich rest in a to-go container beside a half-pickle and side of coleslaw
Pastrami at Hoboken’s Pastrami House.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This offshoot of a Lincroft, New Jersey establishment on Hoboken’s main drag offers a very full deli menu, including some invented surprises. That means all the usual square and round knishes, split pea and matzo ball soups, kasha varnishkas, bagels and lox, and potato latkes, in addition to stranger additions like a mini Reuben in a hot dog bun and pastrami chili con carne. The pastrami, by the way, is quite good, while the corned beef verges on the rubbery.

Two halves of a pastrami sandwich rest in a to-go container beside a half-pickle and side of coleslaw
Pastrami at Hoboken’s Pastrami House.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

2nd Ave Deli

A woman stands under a blue awning with the words: “2nd Ave Deli”
The original 2nd Ave Deli was in the East Village.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This old-fashioned kosher deli was founded in 1954 by Abe Lebewohl in the East Village, along a strip of Second Avenue known as the Yiddish Broadway for all its Jewish theaters. In 2006, a landlord dispute forced the neighborhood fixture to move to Murray Hill. There is now also an Upper East Side branch. While the pastrami is good, the corned beef is better. The place has long been celebrated for its cholent — a bean stew — and derma, also known as kishka, a creamy sausage incorporating grain and meat in a cow intestine. The challah French toast is a longtime East Village classic, now rarely seen in its home neighborhood.

A woman stands under a blue awning with the words: “2nd Ave Deli”
The original 2nd Ave Deli was in the East Village.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hobby's Delicatessen

Customers sit together in pairs and small groups in a diner featuring with leftover holiday decorations and American flags
The timeworn interior of Hobby’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Located on a side street in downtown Newark, and open only during the daytime — except on hockey game days — Hobby’s is one of the country’s most enduring Jewish delis, in the same family since 1962. There’s a large dining room lined with reminders of the city’s history. The pastrami is gloriously greasy and smoky, with tongue the second-best meat choice, and roast brisket the third. All three come on a sandwich called the "Hat Trick." Currently closed, it’s slated to reopen May 1 of this year.

Customers sit together in pairs and small groups in a diner featuring with leftover holiday decorations and American flags
The timeworn interior of Hobby’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Frankel's Delicatessen

A woman stands at the counter of a small cafe, bagels are hung on the wall, as are a series of neon signs that read: Nova, Caviar, Latkes, Chopped Liver, and Bagels
Frankel’s interior — order at the counter.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

It was something of a modern miracle when Frankel's appeared in Greenpoint, just above the Nassau stop on the G. It perfectly captured the spirit of an old-fashioned deli from early in the last century, with its gleaming interior, counter ordering, neon sign, and white enamelware trays. The pastrami is of the newfangled sort — hand sliced, perhaps overly smoky, and intensely flavorful. Appetizing fish also available, and don’t miss the hot dog.

A woman stands at the counter of a small cafe, bagels are hung on the wall, as are a series of neon signs that read: Nova, Caviar, Latkes, Chopped Liver, and Bagels
Frankel’s interior — order at the counter.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Katz's Delicatessen

A thick pastrami sandwich on rye is cut in half on a plate.
Pastrami on rye is Katz’s signature.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Located at the heart of what’s left of the “Jewish Lower East Side,” Katz’s is quite simply the city’s — and maybe the nation's — best deli. Hand-cut behind a glass counter in thick, steaming slices, the pastrami is the superior deli meat, with roast brisket coming in second, while the corned beef lags a bit in tenderness but not flavor. The sausage called knoblewurst is absolutely delicious and garlicky as all get out, and the hot dogs are a delight, too. Don’t miss the green tomato pickles, but skip the soggy French fries. Marvel at the interior, at least partly dating to the 1880s.