Hanukkah alights on December 24 this year, giving those who love fried potatoes (aka everyone ever) good reason to seek out the best latkes gelt can buy. In Jewish tradition, the oil used to cook these crispy savory pancakes signifies the oil that kept the Second Temple in ancient Israel lit for eight nights. In modern-day New York City, traditional and contemporary latkes are featured on menus at stylish nouveau Jewish restaurants and old-school delis throughout the holiday season - and, in some especially fortunate cases, all year long. Here are five of our favorites.
This beloved appetizing shop has been serving the Upper West Side for over a century. Its latkes are typically an off-menu, weekend-only item, but during Hanukkah, they’re available all week long. Barney Greengrass’s winter staple is simple and perfect, made to order and fried fresh. If you’re looking for the classic take, look no further.
A bastion of calm across the street from Brooklyn's invariably teeming Trader Joe's, this sunny storefront in Cobble Hill offers schmaltz-fried potato pancakes (also available in vegetarian and gluten free), as well as latkes made with sweet potatoes and celery root. Those looking to double down might consider the Dr. Goldstein Special sandwich, composed of duck fat-laced chopped liver and apple horseradish sauce between two schmaltz-fried latkes.
When it comes to Jewish appetizing fare, there’s Russ & Daughters, and then there’s everyone else. Started as a specialty retailer in 1914, this family-run New York institution now encompasses two cafés, as well as the original shop on East Houston Street. The big winner in the expansion? Latke lovers, who can enjoy them alongside smoked salmon, crème fraîche, caviar and more at the original R&D store and sleek café on the Lower East Side.
Photo: Courtesy of Russ & Daughters
At her chic Soho restaurant, Balaboosta, Israeli chef Einat Admony puts a unique spin on the Eastern European holiday staple. Her carrot and sweet potato latkes are made with thyme and grated apple, and, much like everything chef Admony serves in her growing empire, they’re delicious.
South Williamsburg's Shalom Japan fuses Japanese and Jewish culinary sensibilities, as evidenced by their okonomi-latke. This beautiful hybrid of a traditional latke and okonomiyaki is studded with green cabbage and sprouts, and topped with salmon roe, lemon, créme fraîche and sliced scallions. Expect a world of flavors and textures.