Most people enjoy receiving gifts — the giving part is far more stressful. Some of us enjoy catching up with family; others, not so much. If there’s anything everyone can agree on when it comes to the holidays, it’s most definitely food. Of all the Hanukkah goodies on the table, none is more beloved than latkes. Hopefully, someone in the family knows how to make them well. If not, don’t fret — here’s where to fill your latke fix.
Fischer Bros. & Leslie (230 West 72nd Street; 212-787-1715)
This 66-year-old Upper West Side kosher haunt offers a healthy, gluten-free take on the traditional potato pancake with its homemade quinoa latke, a blend of organic quinoa, carrots, zucchini, and fresh herbs. Most of the year, these treats are only available through special order, but there are plenty ready-to-go throughout the holiday.
2nd Ave Deli (Multiple Locations)
One of NYC’s favorite delis, this place serves some of the top latkes in town. Theirs is a heaping pile of pancakes served with applesauce, just like grandma used to make.
Tavern on the Green (67 Central Park West; 212-877-8684)
This landmark eatery is combining time-honored pancakes with old school steakhouse accoutrements. Tavern on the Green’s latkes are smothered with indulgent béarnaise and a dollop of sour cream.
élan (43 East 20th Street; 646-682-7105)
Get in on chef David Waltuck’s family custom this holiday. At élan, he’s offering Paul’s potato latkes, a passed-down family recipe. Carrots are added to the blend for a bit of sweetness and color, but the real secret lies in the technique. Waltuck is careful to remove all the tuber’s excess water before frying. The end result is crisp on the outside with a cloud-like interior. Get ’em while they’re hot — these pancakes are only around until the New Year.
Russ & Daughters Cafe (179 East Houston Street; 212-475-4880)
This Lower East Side shop doesn’t kid around. It makes latkes around the clock, using a generations-old family recipe. Order them with just applesauce and sour cream or with salmon roe and creme fraiche at the cafe. At the appetizing store, just down the street, get them to-go with the aforementioned toppings, and more, ranging from caviar to French trout roe.
Jacob’s Pickles (509 Amsterdam Avenue; 212-470-5566)
Comfort food meets deli fare at this craft beer-centric eatery this Hanukkah. The spot is serving Southern sweet potato latke with Cajun and scallion crème frâiche topped with salmon roe. These homestyle treats are only around for the month of December.
Mile End (Multiple Locations)
At both the Brooklyn and NoHo locations of this nouveau Montreal-style deli, you can find a variety of special holiday snacks (think homemade Manischewitz jelly doughnuts) including a selection of latke specials. Expect to see traditional and sweet potato pancakes with a selection of different toppings: applesauce, sour cream, chopped liver and whitefish. On Sunday and Monday nights, the Bond Street locale is offering “Not your Buddy’s Chanukah,” a latke tasting during its special dinners ($60 per person). Expect classic latkes with applesauce and duck ham, sweet potato with smoked onion jam, and zucchini latkes with deviled egg, mint, and caviar.
Shelsky’s (141 Court St, Brooklyn; 718-855-8817)
Last year, Peter Shelsky took home the Latke Festival badge of honor for his sweet potato and celeriac latkes (he’s going back on Monday to defend his title). To go along with the award-winning pancakes, the shop offers a short selection of options including gluten-free vegetarian potato latkes and traditional schmaltz-fried potato latke (who doesn’t love fat?). Top one off with Grandma Yetta’s chunky applesauce, plain or horseradish crème frâiche, or cranberry horseradish and apple relish.
Timna (109 St. Mark’s Place; 646-964-5181)
Chef Nir Mesika is serving a contemporary take on the traditional pancake at his modern Israeli place. Until December 13, he’s featuring potato-free leek and goat cheese latkes with vanilla-bean scented enoki mushrooms and sunchoke puree.
Junior’s (Multiple Locations)
Junior’s original Flatbush Avenue Extension location is one of the most iconic restaurants in NYC. Since 1950, the place has been serving an excellent selection of deli fare, including latkes. Each batch is crisp and well-seasoned, topped with applesauce and sour cream. Get the classic appetizer size or go for the ridiculous Something Different sandwich, beef brisket sandwiched between two big, fluffy potato pancakes.