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Best cities for kosher eating

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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...

                                    3. My personal ranking
                                      1.) Great variety, quality, etc. - NYC
                                      2.) Great variety, quality, etc. (but not on par with NYC) - Paris, check www.mangercasher.fr
                                      3.) Some variety or interesting stuff - LA, Miami, Montreal, London, Antwerp

                                      No onto a couple of comments. My husband is French no one we know has had any problems with the Beth Din of Paris and only people we know who don't recognize it are generally lubavitch in our neck of the woods. London has a few things but they are all in Northern London and not convenient for tourists. Finally who ever said Amsterdam is on another planet. The only decent reasonable kosher place is a sandwich shop.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: spacesasha

                                        Sigh. Your claim that BD of Paris is generally accepted is simply not true. I got an airline meal from "Alpha Flight Services" under the BD hechsher that contained both chicken and a triangle of cheese, and despite being a pesach meal contained green beans and corn.

                                        1. re: zsero

                                          Cheese is obviously a no-no and impossible to explain. But Corn is eaten by Sephardim and green beans are acceptable even to some Ashkenazim. It would not be surprising that BDP (from a city with a majority Sephardi population, would include kitniyot in its meals. Note: I am just speculating here and have no reliable info on this.

                                          1. re: mrogovin

                                            Corn and beans would be acceptable in a restaurant, where an Ashkenazi can just order something else. It is NOT acceptable in an airline meal. No competent beit din, Ashkenazi or Sefardi, would allow it.

                                      2. Non-USA Diaspora (in this order): Paris, Cape Town, Beijing (has one restaurant but its truly AMAZING), London, Mexico City

                                        12 Replies
                                        1. re: UWSFoodie

                                          Can you say more about the Beijing restaurant? Haven't heard anything about it. Do they cater to hotels?

                                          1. re: serenarobin

                                            I thought this post was about best cities ? not best restaurants??

                                            I was just in Europe, ate at kosher rests in Frankfurt (Sohar -Terrible!!
                                            Vienna (alef alef - decent ) and

                                            Prague (the Chabad place, Shelanu, was really tasty!

                                            But they dont make those cities great places for kosher eating!

                                            I will agree on Paris, Cape town and LA - but not the others, although they may have a good restaraunts.

                                            1. re: Cholent Fresser

                                              I had one meal at Sohar and thought it good, though expensive. And it nearly cleaned me out of cash, because they don't take credit cards. Maybe I lucked out and ordered the right things (chopped liver, and a veal shnitzel).

                                            2. re: serenarobin

                                              And BTW, I haven't found Israel to have many good places, there may be quantity, and variety which would make it a great place for the kosher eater to visit (of course...) but again, I havent seen much in the way of exceptional GLATT (repeat GLATT) eateries.

                                              Unless you count a good fried Shnitzel as gourmet.....

                                              1. re: Cholent Fresser

                                                I think it's good you bring up the Glatt issue. My experience has always been that the level of the hechsher is inversely proportionate to the quality of the food. In other words- you want the best hechsher- be satisfied with that and give up on getting the best meal.
                                                It's as if the owners know your choices are limited so they needn't bother too much. This is unfortunate but has almost always been the case.
                                                In Israel there are a few exceptions as I think there must be more demand for high-end kosher food. Gabriel's is amazing and glatt, La Boca as well.
                                                I'm assuming you're talking only about meat restaurants. If you rely on regular Jerusalem rabbinate for dairy there are some great choices- my favorites being Bet Hamaayan in Ein Kerem and Ticho House. There are many others- and I've heard that Neve Tzedek in TA has some excellent kosher food as well.
                                                But one great thing about Israel is that for a truly tasty and satisfying meal- you can always go cheap and ethnic. Local Medditeranean places are often wonderful- and for a great burger you needn't go any further than Burger's Bar. It's consistently excellent casual food (and many of them are glatt)
                                                Also- Baba is new on the scene and offers the best humus around with other local-style dishes. Highly recommended. Nothing like it exists outside israel that I know of.
                                                And one last place- when I'm craving authentic Indian like I used to get back in NYC- I go to Machane Yehuda market (near the Iraqi shuk) and get the best and most authentic veggie food this side of New Dehli
                                                . Prepared by an Indian lady and served up backpacker style in this tiny but most charming place. I can't remember the name but can look it up for anyone who is interested. it's always crowded with young hippy style types who look like they just came off the plane from the far east.

                                                1. re: luvkosher

                                                  I definitely am interested in the name of this Indian place. Unfortunately, I have just returned from Israel, so I won't be there for some time, but I would like to put it on my list for the next visit.

                                                  1. re: queenscook

                                                    Me too. The only Indian I've had in Israel was at Koh-i-Noor, and I found it disappointingly bland.

                                                    1. re: zsero

                                                      Madras Pavilion in Houston of all places. It's as authentic as it gets. It's always packed with authentic Indians and a few adventurous Jews.

                                                      1. re: SoCal Mother

                                                        zsero and I were saying we were interested in the name of an Indian place mentioned by someone who posted that he/she knew of a very authentic Indian place near Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, that poster posted twice on one day last summer, and we have never heard from him/her again.

                                                        I can't speak for zsero, but I am certainly not planning any trip to Houston for Indian food. Actually, there are now a number of Indian places in the New York area with hechsherim that "everyone" trusts, not to mention the ones that always existed that some kosher-keeping Jews would eat at, while others would not. And I'll be in Seattle later this year, where there is another authentic Indian restaurant, run by Indians.

                                                          1. re: queenscook

                                                            Ichikidana is the name of the Indian place in Machane Yehudah. It's on my list of places to try. Will let you know how it is within the next few weeks.

                                                            1. re: mamaleh

                                                              I tried Ichikdana in Machane Yehuda for lunch today. It is the best kosher Indian food I have eaten (including my own cooking). The dal is amazing. In contrast to kosher Indian food in the US, Ichikdana's dishes use considerably less oil and wonderful spices. The restaurant is owned by a woman from Calcutta and is under Rabbanut hashgacha. It is dairy.
                                                              The restaurant is a little difficult to find. It is at Eshkol 4 a few doors down from the Ethiopian store.

                                            3. From my experience: 1) Hong Kong 2) Paris 3) NY - the rest are OK but not worth going out of your way. My sister in law says that Rome is unreal for chalavi - particularly pizza and pasta- and I've heard that from others as well.

                                              Hong Kong has this incredible dining room located in the JCC on Robinson Road which offers gourmet food 7 days a week (Shabbat meals too- ordered in advance) in the ambience of a fine hotel. They are famous for their Sunday night all you can eat bbq buffet. Not to be missed.

                                              Paris is just great! You walk along the 2 main roads in the 2 Jewish neighborhoods and fress away. . .great stuff! Many of the meat places are owned by Moroccan Jews from Morocco directly - so you are getting really authentic cuisine. Avoid any obvious imitations (I remember a lousy NY style fast food place- eeeeww!) Keep to the genuine ethnic or native cuisine when available (this rule applies everywhere around the world)

                                              NY has it's variety- but alas, the kosher food there can seem somewhat phony. As if the chefs realize that the clientele doesn't know any better so they try to impress with style and ambience. My best experiences have been going for the real thing (remember Shmulka Bernsteins?) and the non-Jewish owned Indian places on Lex. You know if your local Hindus are eating there- it's going to be an enjoyable eating experience. ( there goes the rule again!)

                                              We spent a few days in Prague and ate at a few of the kosher places. While we applaud their efforts- nothing compared to food back home (Israel). They don't have it easy, as kosher products are impossible to come by (the bake their own bread etc)- so one can't blame them for not serving up haute cuisine. Definitely satisfying and worth going- but bring along some groceries from home to fill in at breakfast and lunchtime.

                                              1. I am a native New Yorker, so I am partial to my city (though Montreal is great... so is LA). If you're in NYC, go to Liebman's Kosher Deli in Riverdale (that's the Bronx). The food is INCREDIBLE. It is one of the gems of the city that doesn't get enough recognition.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: artwoman520

                                                  is this kosher-style or with rabbinic supervision?

                                                  1. re: artwoman520

                                                    I'm also curious if this a glatt place. Also what would you recommend there artwoman?

                                                    1. re: artwoman520

                                                      Liebman's is open 7 days a week from 9am to 10pm. It has no supervision. It's unlikely to be reliably kosher.

                                                    2. I would have to agree that rome/italy is a great place to visit for kosher food. went with my wife on our honeymoon and we had plenty of options in venice, florenc (actually only one restaurant, Ruth's, but very delicious and the owners make you feel very welcome) and rome. We had a truly phenomenal meal in rome at nona betta and think that they have a great list of places to eat and the countryside is gorgeous. Would highly recommend italy.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: kosherdoc

                                                        Amsterdam has the best felafel available, if you are a bit flexible and will eat in a strictly vegetarian places owned by Maoz family. In Jerusalem they own the landmark Maoz Felefal opposite the Hamashbir on King george. You can also buy fresh Dutch herring at the Albert Cyup market, the best herring in the world.
                                                        A nice meat restauant is HaCArmel, very roomy and not too expensive.

                                                        1. re: Adamster

                                                          Sorry to disagree but having lived in NL for the past 7 years I find the kosher scene in A'dam pretty boring. HaCarmel is your basic kosher grill place and besides that we only have a pizzeria and some bakeries. The one interesting kosher eat IMHO is Sal Meijer but a handful of kosher restaurants does not make it one of the best cities for kosher eats.

                                                          1. re: spacesasha

                                                            Hey maybe I should open a place up there? any thoughts on that?

                                                              1. re: Adamster

                                                                Good luck, I would love to have more interesting kosher options but I am not sure if there is enough of a market...

                                                                1. re: spacesasha

                                                                  i am thinking of going to amsterdam and Berlin this summer.... enough to eat????

                                                        2. you can't really go wrong with new york! there are enough kosher restaurants on kings highway in brooklyn alone to feed you for your whole trip! not to mention the plethora of restaurants and food carts in manhattan, the other boroughs, and surrounding suburbs. i think we native new yorkers take advantage of all of our options.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: kosherfoodies

                                                            There is no variety like NYC and Brooklyn and ambiance has gotten better. Few really GOOD restaurants, but that is true worldwide, except maybe Israel. Had some very good meals in Paris. Some outstanding restaurants exist in other places, but for me what makes a great fravel destination is choices in many areas, particularly in/near tourist areas, of a city (or easily accessible by public transit/car)

                                                            NYC, Paris (and many other major cities in France where you can get bread, cheese, wine, Grilled Chicken & sides and groceries), Jerusalem and other Israeli cities, Miami, Boston, Jersey Shore (esp. near Deal) are some that come to mind.

                                                          2. Montreal, without a doubt this city has a wealthy and pious population that sits within a small radius of suburbs for which there are many Kosher restaurants. In one city block of Queen Mary Rd I can list you three from the top of my head.

                                                            Steak, deli, chinese, japanese, israeli and moroccan are just the tip of the iceberg

                                                            1. Paris has a tremendous choice of K restaurants - some very good, but expensive, e.g. Osmosis
                                                              My favourite is Darjeeling near Metro Charles de Gaulle- Etoile which is a good balance of excellent Indian food and reasonable price.
                                                              Incidentally, the complaint about the Airline meal having cheese with meat is unjustified - blame the Airline, not the Beth Din.