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Jun 15, 2009 03:22 PM

Best cities for kosher eating

Travel season is upon us. Any thoughts on top five cities outside of Israel for kosher eating?

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  1. Just like the famous Willie Sutton quote ("Why do I rob banks? Because that's where the money is") the rule of thump tends to be follow the Jewish population. Paris is probably near the top, as is London. New York, obviously, but that's like saying "Russia" because the metropolitan area extends from Jersey to Westchester and Long Island. Beyond that, it's pretty much up for graps.

    24 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      10 might be a bit ambitiious. I have to believe that there are at least 5. Between the ones you mentioned, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, DC, Miami, Atlanta, Toronto, Montreal, Baltimore, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Melbourne, Capetown, JoBurg, Manchester, Mexico City, maybe another city in France (Nice? Marseille?) there aren't 5-10 cities where you can get quality and variety for a week of eating out?
      I havn't been to most of these cities so maybe you can't, I don't know.

      1. re: elmoz

        Living in Chicago, I'd be embarrassed if a visitor came here with the expectation that it was a "top city" for Kosher dining.

        1. re: ferret

          We do have a few ges that stand up to NYC and LA - but I agree NYC, LA and Miami do have many more choices that stand on their own -

          1. re: weinstein5

            Taboun can hold its own, as can Shallots (if you don't mind the cost) or Hylife in the right mood, but that's about it. No good Asian, no Indian, no Mexican, that's for sure. All I know is that Cafe Classico beats the pants off of Slice of Life. I'd kill for a good kosher Persian or Ethiopian place.

            1. re: sdrucker

              NYC has Asian, Indian (veggie only) and Persian, but no Mexican or Ethiopian.

              1. re: zsero

                True, but Jerusalem has kosher Ethiopian (meat), so it's at least theoretically possible for someone to do that in the US. Is there anywhere here in the States (LA?) that has kosher Mexican?

                1. re: sdrucker

                  J'm has kosher Ethiopian? Hmm, I see that it does, but only since my last visit. It's high time I was there again...

                  1. re: sdrucker

                    There is actually a kosher Mexican restaurant in the Centro Israelita in Tijuana Mexico, a short drive from San Diego. It's run by Chabad. I don't care for Mexican food but I can assure you it's both kosher and genuinely Mexican.

                    You did say US, not NY, right?

                  2. re: zsero

                    Do you not consider Carlos & Gabby's Mexican at all? It's low-end, for sure, but it is somewhat Mexican. Maybe Tex-Mex is a better term? I never had Mexican food before I kept kosher, so I have no real basis of comparison.

                    1. re: queenscook

                      Smokey Joe's also is Tex-Mex so it has some Mexican type options.

                      1. re: avitrek

                        Both Sienna's and Moti's Falafel Stand in Rockville, MD have Tex-Mex menus, dairy and meat respectively.

                        1. re: elmoz

                          zsero said NYC didn't have Mexican food; I was only responding to that, not naming any other Mexican or Tex-Mex places.

                          1. re: queenscook

                            Sorry, I meant to respond to sdrucker about other cities in the US with kosher Mexican.

                      2. re: queenscook

                        I don't know. I know a Cedarhurst sandwich is not in any way Mexican, nor Texian or anything even close.

                        1. re: zsero

                          I don't know what that is; there are definitely more Mexican things: tacos, burritos, fajitas, etc. It might not be what you'd find in Mexico, but it is what you'll find in other Mexican restaurants in America.

                          1. re: queenscook

                            The Cedarhurst is Carlos & Gabby's signature item. Search this board for earlier discussions of C&G; everyone recommends the Cedarhurst. It's very good indeed, but hardly Mexican.

                            1. re: zsero

                              Fine, but my point was that you said there is no Mexican food available in NYC. It's a fast food place; it's not unusual that they'd have what will sell. After all, why did McDonald's, a burger place, add fancy coffee to their menu? Or breakfast, for that matter, years ago. Because it sold. So yes, C & G has non-Mexican stuff. But that doesn't negate the Mexican stuff it does have. And again, it's just fast food Mexican, it's not high end, but my limited experience and knowledge of the secular food world seems to indicate that there's not much high end Mexican even in the treif world.

                              If some kosher-eater has never had Mexican food, and wants to try it, at least there's something, that's all.

                              1. re: queenscook

                                Fair enough, I just don't know enough about Mexican food to know how authentic their more Mexican-sounding items are. Polanco on the UWS was (as far as I know) an authentic Mexican-Jewish place, which at least claimed to be serving food as you would find it in the Jewish neighbourhood of Mexico City. (Much as that fleishig Indian place that used to exist in Queens said that it served authentic Indian-Jewish dishes.)

                                1. re: queenscook

                                  At any rate, NYC could certainly use an Ethiopian place, as well as Vietnamese (I'd like to try pho, and see what the big deal is), Thai (there are some dishes here and there, but nothing much since Kao San closed down, and that was really a West-African version of SE Asian cooking) and some others.

                                  1. re: zsero

                                    wild ginger is thai -
                                    also gan asia used to claim to be thai but I haven't eaten there in years

                                    1. re: meateater

                                      Wild Ginger is NOT Thai; I don't know where you got that idea. It calls itself "Pan-Asian", and its menu reflects that, if "Pan-Asian" is taken to really mean "East Asian".

                                      Gan Asia calls itself "Thai, Chinese, & Sushi", and does have a number of Thai dishes on the menu, though most of the menu is Chinese and "other", I don't frequent it mostly because it's well out of my take-away range; by the time I would bring anything home it would be cold. Also it doesn't get good reports here on chowhound.

                      3. re: sdrucker

                        Persian would be good - I do disagree I do enjoy Tein Li Chow - I consider what of the kosher chinese restauarants I have eaten at -

                2. re: ferret

                  Good point, dining in Manhattan is no-way no-how the same as dining in say Brooklyn.

                  1. re: ferret

                    Why did my "b"s come out as "p"s? Nowhere near each other on the keyboard.

                  2. The absolute tops for eating out kosher is Yerushalayim. More quality and variety than anyplace else.
                    i have not eaten abroad, except for Amsterdam, which has a few nice places, but in the United States no city has more than a couple of really good restaurants.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: rabbiyisroel

                      Yerushalayim?? Quality?? variety? no way. Certainly not Glatt. Barely tolerable.
                      Paris has some Places, but that depends if you eat the Bet-Din Hechsher, which I've heard isnt too reliable. London has very paltry choices and frankly nothing too good.

                      The top, hands down, no discussion is of course New York, you cant beat it, or even get close.
                      The only other city in the US that has any variety at all is LA, all the other cities, have one maybe two decent eateries. (Chicago is a Shonda...)

                      Abroad, I'd say, Buenos Aires is best, plenty of good (inexpensive for tourists) places, then Jo'burg and Cape Town - but not much variety, Sydney has 2-3 decent places.

                      1. re: Cholent Fresser

                        I would put Israel at the top of the list only because in such a small area you have a broad range. Even if you live in Jerusalem, you can get to Tel Aviv in an hour. Huge selection in both cities, as well as Herzilia, Modiin, Ra'anana, etc.
                        Outside Israel, I'd have to put NYC, LA, Paris and London at the top. Miami has a decent selection. Places like Hong Kong, Sydney, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, have a decent place or two.

                        It's really a loaded question - are you looking for a wide selection so that if you're there for a week you dont have to go to the same place, or is it which cities have decent restaurants.

                        1. re: njkosher

                          The original question asked for best cities OUTSIDE of Israel. It's a given that Israel will have more options than most countries.

                          1. re: njkosher

                            It would need to be a combination of variety and quality.

                            I think all would agree that NY is at the top. Paris and LA (valley included) are also good. London has a lot, but I don't think they're any good. I've only eaten at one kosher place in the Miami area, the Israeli whole in the wall in SoBe which I enjoyed, but I'm sure that are 6-7 other places that are also enjoyable. Where else?

                            1. re: elmoz

                              I am laughing that people keep throwing Sydney into the mix. They have a few places to eat, but decent? Ehh, not bad but not great. If anything, Melbourne is where you would be stuffing your face. For variety I am putting LA right on top. You have many choices (maybe not tasting great but choices none the less) in such a close proximity.

                              For quality of food I am going over the pond to Paris. Hands down top quality.

                              1. re: HungryJew

                                I would consider Rome one of the best. I don't know if better then Paris or Jerusalem or NY, but certainly on the same level.

                                1. re: HungryJew

                                  Even Melbourne doesn't have that much. Melbourne is about comparable to Boston or maybe Silver Spring. There's some variety, you certainly won't go hungry or have to eat the same meal every day, but nothing at all compared to even Baltimore or Miami or Toronto, let alone LA or NY. Sydney is more like Detroit or San Francisco.

                        2. I'm curious as to why many posters keep on listing Paris as tops, I was there last year and i really didn't find much. which places did i miss?

                          Hungry Jew, I was in Melbourne a while ago and there didn't seem to be much there either, the best seemed to be the rest. at Gutniks old hotel.

                          Rome? wasnt aware that there is much there.

                          BTW, are we talking BASIC kosher or a little more strict? (Glatt etc.)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Cholent Fresser

                            Cholent Fresser,

                            I agree that Melbourne doesn't have spectacular food but it has more options than Sydney. Everyone kept mentioning Sydney as I was just kind of shocked by it. They don't have many options and the food was nothing special.

                            I kind of think this thread was too broad in regards to best travel city. Are we going by quantity or Quality?

                            1. re: HungryJew

                              You have to be kidding. It's a shame you went to Paris and did not find much, you missed out as there is a huge selection. Shamash alone has almost 300 kosher restaurants on it's list. I would put Paris on par with NY outside Israel.

                              1. re: njkosher

                                You're probably right. Although there were 2 issues. I didnt want to eat Bet Din as I heard too many kashrut horror stories, and more importantly, I found a huge problem with accuracy on those lists, many places that were on those internet lists closed up and were no longer there and with wrong addresses it was a mess. I did enjoy the indian place.

                          2. Toronto really isn't great anymore. The best restaurant (Gladstones) has closed as has Unami (a pretty good meat place that was actually decently priced). Now, all we really have is one nice meat place nad one nice dairy place in addition to the pizza and falafel shops. Whenever I go to New York, I'm blown away by all the choice.

                            1 Reply
                            1. If quality and quantity are the criteria: 1. Paris; 2. New York; 3. Miami; 4. LA; 5. Buenos Aires*.
                              * based on second-hand reports.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Kosher Critic

                                Haven't been to Paris since I started keeping kosher but New York is amazing. People there don't even realize how lucky they are.

                                  1. re: critical_mass


                                    In my experience, New York, like most of the kosher world, is mostly all show but no go. Yes, there's great variety, and even great presentation/ambience, but rarely great food. Solid, yes, no question, but great? For the most part, people talk about steakhouses as if they're fine dining restaurants. Perhaps with respect to he JEwish world, they're correct. After all, a good piece of meat properly prepared is not all that easy to find among kosher restaurants, but there are those (such as myself) who just assume it to be the minimum starting point. To be honest, I just haven't been impressed with most kosher restaurants. I remember a glorious dinner at Levana at one time, but it was a log time ago, at a winemaker dinner for GAN EDEN, and obviously, it was the whole experience that was wonderful, not just the food. Then I remember the original Prime Grill and Le Marais experiences, which were more on the order of great steak and fries, with the added ability to smoke a cigar upstairs at Le Marais. But really, intensely personal food relecting the chef's passions and desires, that is fine dining, and that's what is lacking. Every place seems to have sushi, as if it represents fine dining, or somehow is exotic. I have news for people- sushi is so ubiquitous as to be ordinary- after all, we're not talking omakase experiences here. Sushi has been available in the nonkosher market since the '60s, and it's no longer typically exotic there, and certainly not in the kosher market, where the offerings are more limited. I long for quality to go along with variety, and I long for food reflecting the chef. I don't know how it is in Paris, but you certainly don't get it in New York.

                                    1. re: ganeden

                                      You obviously havent eaten t the better NYC rests. ie, Solo, Annabel's, Etc.
                                      The last time Levanas was any good Jimmy Carter was President.

                                        1. re: Cholent Fresser


                                          Early '90s, so you're close. Of course, I've eaten in New York later, but not at Levana later. I stand by what I said. None of the kosher restaurants offer a glimpse into the chef's soul, from my experiences. They show craftsmanlike food, though the craftmanship is very good at the best of times. Nor would I say that the food I make is a personal representation of my soul- I'm just hoping I can put together craftsmanlike food, and if so, I'll be very pleased.

                                    2. re: Kosher Critic

                                      I don't quite understand why Israel is out of the picture. I understand the OP asked for cities outside of Israel, I assume because the OP probably lives in Israel, but for the rest of us, if we are going to be ranking cities it makes no sense to exclude Israel from the mix.

                                      So my question would be, how does Israel, and cities within Israel, compare, rank, with New York, Paris etc...