City Guide: New York

By Kiri Tannenbaum

Barney Greengrass

For more than a century Barney Greengrass has been the spot to get a bagel and a schmear— just don't skip their signature smoked fish.

Known as the "Sturgeon King of NYC", emblazoned on the storefront's signage, founder Barney Greengrass created this legendary institution in 1902 and his family has continued his tradition of serving house-smoked whitefish, sable, nova, lox, gravlax, herring, and of course sturgeon, over the last century and beyond.

Their silky hand cut slices of fish are served up as platters with bagel and cream cheese or cooked up in dishes like the classic lox, onions, and eggs. Though they moved to the "new" Amsterdam Avenue location in 1929, the interior remains the same and as evident in the yellowed wallpaper, the Linoleum flooring and the waiters sporting nostalgic white lab coat-like uniforms. Greengrass, who was known to have shipped his smoked fish to celebrities around the country, and at his passing in 1956 Groucho Marx remarked, "He may not have ruled any kingdoms or written any great symphonies, but he did a monumental job with sturgeon." Take Marx's lead and visit this temple of stellar bagels and supreme smoked fish.

Note: These days you will find the third generation, grandson Gary Greengrass, at the register where you settle your tab. Just don't forget to go back to your table to tip the hard-working waiters.
Must try:
Nova Scotia Salmon and Whitefish Salad Platter
Culinary Institution / Jewish Delicatessen
$$$
Reservations: N/A
Hours: Tue-Sun 8 am to 6 pm; Closed Mondays
Location: Upper West Side
Address: 541 Amsterdam Avenue at 86th Street
Phone: (212) 724-4707
  • Subway: 1 to 86th Street and Broadway
 
Ideal for:

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