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.
Edith’s Sandwich Counter
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.