In a sea of Lower East Side gastropub clones, Yonah Schimmel’s is a time capsule of starch and nostalgia. Walking into this Old New York holdout immediately transplants you to another time: less Becky on her way to a Tinder date, more Rebecca coming home from her shift at the textile factory in 1910 (when the bakery was founded). The prices seem backdated, too: $3.75 gets you a hot-from-the-oven present of dough bulging with mushroom, spinach, cheese, kasha, cabbage, or the ever-popular bestseller, potato. For a nod to modernity, you can try “special knishes” filled with jalapeño, cheddar, mozzarella, garlic, or sweet peppers. If you’re headed to the nearby Sunshine Cinema, smuggle in a savory gut-buster for less than a large tub of popcorn, followed by a sweet cherry-cheese knish for dessert, and be the envy of every moviegoer in your aisle. Asked the secret to the place’s longevity, Alex Wolfman, Yonah’s great-nephew and the bakery’s current operator, has an endearingly no-nonsense reply: “We buy the best potato. We hand-make and bake, like hundred years ago. No machines.” Don’t mistake the shop’s retro-looking “Send a knish to your mother in Florida!” sign for kitschy décor — this is actually a thing! For just the cost of two-day shipping, Yonah Schimmel’s will deliver an assortment of four or ten knishes to loved ones jonesing for a taste of an otherwise vanishing New York.
137 East Houston Street, Manhattan