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Guss' Pickles vs. The Pickle Guys.

  • r

Just went down for my now bi-weekly pickle/sauerkraut run and I decided to swing by The Pickle Guys (TPG) and give them a whirl. Here's the result of a quick tasting comparison

Near parity. Although TPGs' new pickle was fresh, clean and tasty, with light salinity, excellent crunch and good cucumber flavor, I preferred the one I tasted at Guss'. Exactly why, I can't say - possibly nothing more than brand-name loyalty.

Major advantage to Guss'. I couldn't taste any particular difference between the half and the new at TPG. This is a big problem for me as half sours are my favorite and I expect them to be somewhat tangy and more of an olivey green than the bright green of news. We can probably chalk this one up to TPG being very new - shakedown woes. Will have to try them again in a few weeks.

Advantage to Guss'. Better texture, more of a garlicky flavor, brighter acidity, slightly less briney than TPGs'.

Major advantage to Guss'. TPGs' 'kraut has a nice clean flavor with no unpleasant off aromas, but it has the soft wet almost cooked texture generally associated with 'kraut. Guss' has the good flavor but also a crisp slawlike texture which is a bit of a revelation. You can cook this 'kraut down to soft if that's your fancy or you can nosh on it raw like hardcore high-acidity slaw.

Split Decision. TPG's store is simple, clean and the wide selection of goods is pleasing to the eye but they're not on the sidewalk. Guss' doesn't have the room to display all their wares in barrels. They are moving half a block south on Sunday to a location that will allow them to spread out some more. Staff at both places are friendly.

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  1. Ain't it grand to live and eat in NYC, one of the 1/2 doz or so chow centers of the USA, meaning what a priviledge I find it is to even have such choices.

    2 Replies
    1. re: wrayb

      Travelling to NYC on Fri. (7/12). Staying in Brooklyn Heights near the Brooklyn Bridge.

      A while back I mail ordered pickles from Guss'Pickles. They were positively marvelous. I went to order some more and the web page for Gus is down. Found your comments in a google search.

      Can you help me with an address and some phone numbers to both establishments? Are they open on Sat?

      I appreciate any help you are able provide.

      Mike Varone
      Woodbridge, VA

      1. re: Mike Varone

        This info is a few weeks old.

        Gus's new address is 85/87 Orchard Street. The temporary cell phone number is 516-642-2634. They don't have phone lines yet.

        The Pickle Guys- some of Gus's ex employees are located at 49 Essex St. They don't have phone lines or credit card capability yet but will by the end of June 2002. Their prices are a bit lower than Gus's.

    2. Several tastings over the years with sour pickles hand carried in a car trunk on a cold January day and matched up to Guss'. Unfortunately Mrs. Whyte's, which are sold refrigerated in Ontario and Quebec grocery stores, are not available in the U. S.
      I would even go further and say that Montreal bagels are better than New York bagels. Different but better.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Joe H.

        I've heard that Montreal bagels are better than NY's, also. But I've never had a Montreal bagel. Can you describe how it's different?

        I'm curious if the Montreal bagels are more like what the NY bagels used to be, and is now in contrast better because the NY bagels these days have evolved into tasteless fluffy doughy things?

        Or are Montreal bagels different from even the good old fashion NY bagels?

        1. re: HLing

          Montreal bagels are a different creature altogether. First off, they are thinner, more bialy than bagel. Second, a Montreal bagel comes coated in sesames as a default. Plain is not the status quo, and if you want it naked you must specify. Also, they are chewier and sweeter, almost to the point where, if you bought one hot and fresh from, say, Fairmount Bagels (St. Urbain and Fairmount), it's almost dessert-like. Because of its more interesting texture (denser, twistier dough) and the ubiquitous sesame seed, a Montreal bagel is much better eaten plain than a New York bagel. If you ask me, and both can be loved for their unique virtues. I would choose Fairmount for enjoying au natural and H&H for slathering in shmear.

      2. Have to say I was very disappointed by new "Pickle Guys", and not just by taste. I thought they were the classic pickle stand, like Guss, make their own products. But it turns out they buy from some company called Sunshine in New Jersey. Its a shame because Guss follows that time honored tradition - their sours are 10 months old - while the Guys are trying to compete with already cooked pickles.

        BTW, I looked up Sunshine on the Food Museum website -they look okay. I just hope people don't prefer Guys to Guss and drive Guss out of business. That would be such a blow to my tummy. Long Live Guss!!!!!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Karen

          I have spoken to the owners of several large pickle factories and know that Gus's and the Pickle Guys don't make all their own stuff. Much is produced for them.

        2. d
          Dave the pickle boy

          I work full time at Guss Pickles. To put an end to any rumors here are the FACTS.

          Guss is located at 85-87 Orchard Street near the corner with Broome St. (one block south of Delancey, one block east of Allen and two blocks west of Essex and, most importantly, one block north of Grand which is an exit of the FDR Drive southbound)

          It is open from 9:30 to 6:30 Sunday to Thursday and 9:30 to 3:30 on Friday. Closed Sat.

          It moved from Essex last Dec. b/c the landlord decided to make apartments out of the building. It was at the Tenement Musuem until June when it moved down the street to its now PERMANENT spot. There is not yet an awning as of July 28 but the barrels will be outside if we are open.

          Another Guss store with the exact same owner and exact same pickles is now open in Cedarhurst Long Island at 504a Central Ave.

          The phone number at the LI store is 516 509 0909.
          There is not yet a phone at Orchard Street but Tim Baker (the owner) answers his cell phone at 516 642 2634.

          To order pickles for delivery call either number or drop by either place. $50 a gallon shipped two day air nationwide.

          The pickles are the same as always but are now made in the Bronx at 181 and Park due to high rents on the Lower East Side. The owners have been the same for the last 22 years, and Guss Pickles was started in a push cart 92 years ago, got a store on Hester, then Essex.

          The Pickle Guys are not affiliated at all. Just Pickles are not affiliated at all. But don't be afraid to try their pickles. We are not worried.

          See you there,

          3 Replies
          1. re: Dave the pickle boy
            GUSS' PICKLES


            1. re: GUSS' PICKLES

              Does anyone have a new number for Guss' Pickles at the 85-87 Orchard Street location?

              1. re: Max Janeau


          2. Hi!
            Could anyone please give me directions to Guss' Pickles? I used to go there to buy pickles with my parents everytime we visited New York City. Now I'm going without them and have no idea how to get there! Please help =)


            2 Replies
            1. re: Sheva McCard

              Not only directions. . .but is there a web address for mail ordering Kosher dill,very garlicy, newish greenish crunchy pickles?

            2. I'm from NYC originally and my friend out here in Seattle is visiting New York for the first time. She wants to try pickles. Is Guss's still in business? My mother wasn't sure.

              4 Replies
              1. re: seattledebs

                Absolutely! As has been mentioned up-thread, Guss' is at 87 Orchard St. Hours: 10 a.m.-6p.m., Sun.-Thurs.; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Fri. Closed Saturday.

                1. re: seattledebs

                  They are both worth visiting. And when you go to The Pickle Guys, make sure you stop at Kossar's, creators of the most of the good bialys you buy anywhere. And when they are on, which is often, the bagels are about the best in the city.

                  1. re: Dave Feldman

                    Hooray! I wasn't sure since the thread was pretty old. I'll send her to both, and I've already drawn her an illustrated map of how to get to Kossar's - and told her she should get something that looks tasty in the bakery next door (I love anything they make with prunes, though everything else looks good too.)

                    I'll tell my mother about Guss' - she'll be happy to know!

                    1. re: seattledebs

                      And since she's so close, if she's at all interested, I'd send your mother to Russ & Daughters, a precious establishment that purveys superb smoked fish and candy (and also carries Guss's pickles and Kossar's bialys). No tables, but they'll make takeout friendly sandwiches on request).

                2. Ah, don't worry. My mother could find Russ & Daughters with her eyes closed :). She's a native, but hadn't been to Guss's in a while. It was my friend whom I was sending to the Lower East Side on her first NYC trip ever.

                  My friend is just wrapping up her trip now. I spoke with her during her travels and she successfully found Guss's - hooray! - so thanks to Chowhounders for reassuring me it was still open. She was really excited to be there. I know she tried the half sour and full sour pickles (preferred full sours) and also went to Katz's for pastrami (alas, on a roll - not a New Yorker, she's afraid of rye bread). Also enjoyed her story of going into H&H for the fist time and asked if she could have her bagel sliced and toasted. They looked scandalized and she got a "Here's your bagel, lady," as they thrusted her bagel-in-a-bag over the counter.

                  1. BUMMER- was hoping to visit Guss' after all the rave reviews-- so I just called, and was told they don't operate their lower east side location anymore- the entire operation moved to Cedarhurst. FYI... am surprised that the last posting on 9/14/06 said that seattledebs friend found Guss'... they've been gone for a while, according to the guy who answered the phone. Sigh...

                    1. The LES location is closed? You've got to be kidding me. God, I have such a yen for Jewish food right now. This thread has put me in the mood.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Sarah in Brooklyn

                        i was at the LES location in the last month

                      2. I was at the LES location during the last week of October, 2006. Still there on Orchard St., still the real deal. Apparently there's some serious bad blood between the Orchard St. proprietor and the people using the Guss Pickle name out on Long Island. Hard to figure out who the "real" Guss Pickle is, but I'll cast my lot with Orchard St. The Cedarhurt operation is a little too slick to be the real deal, IMHO.

                        1. Have a little new for you about the pickles your are eating . Most of them are being made at the Brooklyn Termnial Mrkt. Every day is see Gus and The Pickle guy trucks picking up barrels of kraut, pickles etc. All made by Ba Temple.

                          1. Have no fear, Guss's was still there on Orchard Street last night! 9/12/07.

                            1. I really like them both--

                              1. For Thanksgiving, we picked up a mixed half gallon of half sours, full sours and tomatoes from each of the Pickle Guys and Guss's (Orchard St., not Cedarhurst).

                                We had a split decision.

                                The members of our family who'd I'd say are bigger pickle fans (including my father, uncle and myself) tended to like Guss's on all three fronts. We found both the full sours and half sours a little spicier (more garlic, I believe) and crispier.

                                My mother, however, who I'd say has a far more refined palate than the rest of us (but isn't as big a fan of pickles), preferred what she called the more "balanced" flavor of the Pickle Guys pickles. She still preferred Guss's tomatoes, though, finding them fresher (she thought the Pickle Guys tomatoes were overbrined).

                                Finally, my cousin, who is a pretty big pickle fan, found pros and cons to each. He liked the flavor of Pickle Guys, but liked the crispiness of Guss's.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: themicah

                                  Gotta give it to Guss's. Their sours are the best. My daughter likes the half-sours because she's only half Jewish ;)

                                2. I tend to be a sour fan and will confine my review to them:

                                  The last time I was at Guss (during international pickle day 2007), I found Guss' dutifully sour, but lacking any spice beyond, also they were somewhat mushy. TPG really had some snap to them and a fierce garlic bite which made them my preference.

                                  Also, apparently Guss' does not pickle on premises anymore. That gives TPG a big edge.

                                  Blowing them both away are the sours served at the Pearl Street Diner near the seaport. I've had no luck sourcing those... anyone know their origin?

                                  1. What's the latest status on Guss'? Still there? Where? How are the pickles? How about The Pickle Guys? HELP! I'll be in NYC next week and need to buy some good pickles...

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Peterg333

                                      I grew up in the Chinatown lower east side part of the city and grew up on Guss' pickles as a kid I loved their half sours and pickled tomatoes . My understnding is that Guss sold his spot to the pickle guys who basically is offering the same product using the same receipes as they learned working for Guss. My experience is the pickle guys are fantastic in customers service and working with you on what you want. We ended up walking away with about $60 worth of different products never tried. The pepper stuffed olives are unbeliveable they get hotter the longer you let them sit.

                                      My comment about Guss is they have moved back into the location and are now taking business away from the same guys they sold to when they moved to LI. Sorry but in my opinion that's just plan wrong.

                                      1. re: 2455Bklyn

                                        2455Bklyn's post is inaccurate.

                                        The most unbiased and detailed report of the facts of the Pickle Wars come from a 2007 NYTimes Cityroom blog post: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/200...

                                        Today it's a three-way battle between:

                                        1. The current owners of Guss on Long Island (who were long-time suppliers of Guss on the LES, supposedly bought the Guss name from the previous owners of Guss on the LES, and supplied the previous and current LES Guss until a few years ago).

                                        2. The current owners of Guss on Orchard (who took over the location from previous owners, but started fighting with the Long Island Guss folks over rights to use the name after switching to a different supplier).

                                        3. The Pickle Guys on Essex, who used to work for the previous owners of the LES Guss, but wanted to open their own store on Essex near where Guss was before moving to Orchard.

                                        All three have very good pickles.

                                        1. re: themicah

                                          Thanks for the link. Ya gotta love New York.

                                          1. re: themicah

                                            Hmm. that Cityroom blog post references a different Times story. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/11/nyr... In the original story (which differs from the blog post,) it says that Tim Baker the last uncontested owner of the Guss' name stated that he did not intend to sell the Guss' name to the Leibowitz's (the now legal owners of the Guss' name) and if he had, he was the victim of deception. It also states that he sold the original Lower East Side store and recipes to Pat Fairhurst and her son Roger Janin. Roger had worked in the store for years. The story also states that they used to buy CUCUMBERS (not pickles) from United Pickle (the Leibowitz's company)

                                      2. As an update, Gus no longer exists on the Lower East Side. The owner has a new place somewhere in Boro Park Brooklyn I believe, but I'm not sure where exactly or what it's called.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: themicah

                                          Pat Fairhurst (the last owner of the LES Guss' store) and her son Roger now operate a store in Clinton Hill called Clinton Hill Pickles. They claim to make their pickles on the premises.

                                          Clinton Hill Pickles
                                          411 Dekalb Avenue
                                          Brooklyn, NY 11205
                                          On Classon Ave.

                                          11am-7pm most days - call first.

                                          1. re: corgi

                                            Easily the best pickles in the city. Dirt cheap, too. Spicy sours are my favorite, but the beets and cauliflower are both really nice.

                                        2. Im a pickle freek yet i never new about gus pickles ,
                                          I lived in brooklyn in 1994 , i now live in jacksonville fl lol
                                          What a crap town lol anyway cant wait to try a gus pickle
                                          I make my own pickles but i use vinegar , i want to try a real brine pickle ,
                                          Im afraid to make brine pickles my self becuase all thise bubbles and scumm that forms on top of the crock lol who willing to die for a crummy pickle lmao yes i love pickles but c com lol