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What's especially good to buy at Zabar's?

Zabar's virgin here. There seems to be so much of everything here I don't know where to start. Are they known for anything in particular? What do YOU love to buy there that you don't get anywhere else? If you were a visitor there from out of town, what would you be sure to get? Please be specific, not just 'breads' or 'cheeses'.

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  1. smoked salmon, sable, herring in cream sauce, whitefish, whitefish salad... all the jewish soul food.

    1. Lox, best cut to order. As the previous poster mentioned, it's also a great place for other kinds of smoked fish.

      Among the breads, I like the big (really big) round hearth bread that they cut into chunks of around 1-2 lbs.

      The Russian Coffee Cake is excellent, which you can usually find right as you walk in on your right by the cheese counter.

      Best deal in town: Go to the Zabar's Cafe next to the store and order the Nova Special--nova lox on a bagel with plain or chive cream cheese, a big kalamata olive, small fresh squeezed orange juice, and a coffee for around $6.

      1. Loose Rugelach, best in the city (and therefore by definition, in the world).
        Nova- I'm in the minority who prefer it to R & D. But ONLY cut to order, thin. There may have been a tiny bit of slippage in recent years though. Don't think they do better on other fish.

        1. I second the Rugelach. Also, I love Zabar's coffee section. My preference is the ZAbar's specific blend of coffee. A friend of my grandma's has been going Zabar's every week (traveling in from NJ) for at 30-40 years to get her Ethiopian blend of coffee.

          1 Reply
          1. re: emgoodman

            There's a vast selection of prepared foods which, I'm sorry to say, should be avoided at all costs - consistently disappointing.
            Upstairs, check out the gadgets/housewares/pots & pans, etc. Great selection and usually the best prices in the city.
            Zabar's Coffee? Ask for this blend...70% French/Italian+30% Mocha. I like it ground on #1, even for a Melita-style coffee machine. Delicious, rich cup of joe. Yum.

          2. In addition to all mentioned - salmon roe, the cherry-cheese strudel (you'll find it at the end of the prepared food section, by the rotisserie), hard-to-find-anywhere-else smoked cod liver.

            1 Reply
            1. re: RedVelvet

              love their strudel...any flavor

              Also, a delicious chunky gazpacho (found across from the strudel counter)
              I put it over pasta shells - - delicious for a quick and tasty dinner

            2. smoked fish: as others have mentioned already, all the varieties of smoked salmon and the smoked whitefish are very good (but other good places include barney greengrass and murray's fish, both in the UWS; as well as russ & daughters in the LES); as david goldfarb noted, the nova special in the zabar's cafe really is a fantastic deal

              coffee: i REALLY like the blue mountain style coffee. it's also pretty well priced (at least for nyc)

              babka: many people love the chocolate babka. it's not a traditional-style babka, but if you like sweets, there's a good chance you'll like the gooey ribbons of chocolate in zabar's babkas

              olive oil: the zabar's store brand has a good price to quality ratio; you can find better olive oil at other places (i.e. olivier's in the w. village), but for raw use in the home kitchen, this stuff is a good buy

              more run of the mill stuff that can be had for a decent price at zabar's include fresh squeezed OJ, an ok selection of cheese (i like coach farm goat cheese buttons), sarabeth's jams

              6 Replies
              1. re: cimui

                There are a couple of Zabar's store brand olive oils. One comes in a squarish bottle and is imported from Italy, and in my experience is nothing special. The other comes bottled in fifths usually, but not always, and is from California. It's not entirely consistent, since olive oil is a seasonal product, and it's hard to figure out whether you've got a really good fresh batch or a mediocre batch until you try it, but when the California oil from Zabar's is good, it's really fruity and very reasonably priced.

                1. re: cimui

                  Some of the cheeses at Zabar's can be aggressively expensive and insipid. I found that true recently with their Comte', for example.

                  1. re: Pan

                    yes, i've found that to be the case with their parmagianno as well

                    1. re: Pan

                      At any given time, there seem to be some good cheeses that are very well priced, and they're likely to be making up for it elsewhere. For cheese I usually prefer Murray's.

                      1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                        I agree. Often times their short-dated [read: prepackaged] cheeses can be had for a song. You'll find them mostly up front by the olives.

                    2. re: cimui

                      Ah, I missed all these replies, earlier.

                      1. I just purchased a bottle of Zabar's CA olive oil this weekend and it's good enough for drizzling, raw. I use the Italian stuff for cooking and I think it's great for that purpose. (Both of them are square, by the way...)

                      2. It's true that the pre-cut and packaged cheeses at Zabar's aren't anything to write home about -- they're no better or worse than at your average grocery store -- but the featured cheeses that they give you samples of on weekends can be quite excellent. I bought an aged, raw milk gouda at the counter this weekend and it's really very lovely. All that said, I have bought cheeses that were so old they were inedible (like a Pont L'Eveque that smelled like pure ammonia after I'd taken it out of its package). Just be careful and taste / smell before you buy. I love Murray's Cheeses, too, but I'm lazy and prefer to do my grocery shopping closer to home, usually.

                      3. Zabar's carries beurre d'Echire! $6.95 / 250g for salted, $7.95 for unsalted.

                    3. I am from San Jose, CA and visit NY once a year and always make a visit to Zabars. Got to have their (store brand) of Prisciutto, mmm! what a treat. Also bring home a few bags of coffee for family and myself, we just love it, also the price is good.

                      1. the crumb cake in the bakery section is great- oddly enough, one of my favorite things from Zabars is their store made apple sauce. I agree with people's assessment to stay away from the prepared food- it is sub par.

                        Their coffee is quite good, although I like Citarella a bit better. Definitely go for the smoked fish- i prefer nova, but their lox is great as well.

                        1. I agree with everything said here, except for the prepared foods item. yes, most are not fantastic, but their soups are great. The matzo ball, chicken noodle, and the "cream no cream" are amazing. The "cream no cream" are flavors like cream of mushroom or asparagus made with tofu. It's very very hard to tell the difference.

                          1. Their chicken liver is a must!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: carijo3

                              I'm not a fan of their chopped liver (no offense carijo). The couple of times I've had it, it didn't have a lot of flavor. But you must pick up a loaf of their rye bread--it is out of this world. I also like the vichysoisse (sp?), which they sell at this time of year. I agree their prepared food is only so-so (although I do like the stuffed cabbage). And they occasionally have some great prices on cheese (I got some 12-mos.-old Manchego for 5-something a pound last time I was there. Good olive selection too.