Top 5 Traditional Jewish Foods

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If you live in New York City or the surrounding areas, you’re probably very familiar with Jewish culture and more importantly, Jewish food. Even if you’re not part of the faith, schools and businesses observe its holidays. Walk down the streets of Manhattan or Brooklyn and you’ll see tons of kosher stores and delis. The great thing about the city is that you don’t need to be Jewish to enjoy the food. Here are some of our favorite traditional dishes.


Latkes are fried potato pancakes usually served on Hanukkah, a holiday in December. But many places sell them all year round. For a savory flavor, eat them with sour cream. For a sweet flavor, try applesauce. Keep in mind latkes are dense, so one should fill you up just fine. 

Lox and Bagel

New York City is known for the best bagels in the world. To get the full bagel experience though, you’ll want to order a bagel with lox, a smoked salmon. This combination might cost up in the $20 to $25 range, but it’s well worth it. In New York, Jews and non-Jews alike eat it for a weekend brunch. It’s often served with red onions, capers, cream cheese, cucumbers, and tomato. 


Challah is a braided, egg-washed bread that’s eaten on the Sabbath. Many people bake it themselves, but you can also find this interesting looking loaf at local grocery stores. This bread also goes with other meals and thanks to the Jewish population, you don’t have to find a Zabar’s to get this delicious bread!

Pastrami Sandwich

A good pastrami sandwich on rye bread will cost you, but this too is well worth it. Many people head to Katz’s deli, but we prefer 2nd Ave deli (two locations in Manhattan) since the lines are shorter and there are fewer tourists. For $20, you’ll get a sandwich so big that you may need to deconstruct it before you even take a bite.

Matzo Ball Soup

Some refer to Matzah ball soup as Jewish penicillin. This dish consists of fluffy matzo ball dumplings in a chicken or vegetable broth. There are also big chunks of carrots and celery, along with thyme, parsley, and dill. If you’re ever feeling sick, order a big bowl of this soup and have it delivered to your doorsteps. Its nutrients will make feel better.


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