If you live on the East Side or have been in New York for a decent amount of time, you’ve probably heard of 2nd Ave Deli. This NYC staple has been on the East Side since 1954, with the original location on the southeast corner East 10th and 2nd Avenue. It has since moved, and expanded, to two locations on the East side: 162 East 33rd Street (between Lexington Ave and 3rd Ave) and 1442 First Ave (East 75th Street).
The deli has a special history and has been part of NYC culture for decades. Family owned and operated, you’ll feel like you’re coming home to your Jewish Grandmother’s kitchen when you stop in for a bowl of matzo ball soup or a pastrami on rye.
But not everything about 2nd Ave Deli is old school or has stayed the same over the years. One recent addition has younger generations coming out for dates, drinks with friends, and new takes on the classics.
A speakeasy style bar called 2nd Floor Bar & Essen opened at the UES location in 2017, and has some very exciting options to sip and nosh on. The Manischewitz Flip is made with bourbon, rum, Demerara, allspice, mulled Manischewitz and a whole egg, and has become a popular option. The Upper Eastsider, another favorite, is made with vodka or gin, celery soda, ginger, cucumber, lime and mint. The low lit, dark wood ambiance makes for a great date spot, or a place to catch up with a group of friends.
“This place is a hidden gem, and the bar tenders are artists. You can order one of the listed drinks, but every time I have visited, I just tell them to make me whatever, and that option is on the menu too,” says UES local Jonathan.
Pastrami deviled eggs, gefilte croquettes, or a duck confit blintz – which would you choose? The high-end menu is a take on all the classics you can get just one flight down. But beware: if you’re sitting upstairs, you won’t have the downstairs menu available to you, so before you choose where to sit, think about what you’re in the mood for.
“I randomly wake up craving the pigs in a blanket because they aren’t your usual arrangement. The added everything bagel seasoning and high quality beef sets these apart. I travel crosstown just to get them,” said Rachel from the West Side.
And if you’re in the mood for the classic comforts, cholent (simmered beef, beans and potatoes), or kasha varnishkes, then taking a seat in the main dining room is your best bet. The walls of the deli are lined with pictures of its rich history serving New Yorkers, including famous actors and musicians over the years.
It also pays homage to the original owner, Abe Lebewohl, who was tragically murdered on March 4, 1996 while making a deposit at a bank.
Abe was known and loved by New Yorkers. He was a hard working man who, after struggling for years, realized his American Dream of running a business he loved, and all those who met him loved him as well. After his passing, family members vowed to keep his dream and memory alive. We are so lucky to have this New York classic here today.
“There are so few places left that make New York feel like New York. I have family that come visit from all over the world, and their first request is to go eat at 2nd Ave Deli. I feel lucky it’s close to my apartment on the UES!” said long time resident David.