Veselka’s potato pancakes.
Photo: Melissa Hom
When Hanukkah begins next Tuesday night, plenty of New Yorkers will be celebrating by loading up on fried foods, which commemorate the oil that shined for eight nights. And even though most Jewish-Americans probably think the best latkes come from their mothers’ kitchens, that might not necessarily be the case. Here in New York, you can find fantastic fritters with classic toppings like applesauce or sour cream, or more intriguing options like Indonesian date butter and scoops of caviar. So we’ve rounded up enough excellent options to take you through all eight nights, plus one extra, just in case. Check them all out, straight ahead.
135 First Ave., nr. 8th St.; 212-780-9222; $10 Joe Dobias’s sandwich shop has taken the potato, parsnip, and matzo meal latke that’s usually served at JoeDoe
this time of year and spun it into a sandwich. Here, the latkes are the bread: Two cakes about four or five inches in diameter surround a chicken-scrapple patty that’s topped with “almond butter” — almonds, honey, and apple — and finally, a bissle of crispy chicken-skin slivers.
256 Court St., nr. Baltic St., Cobble Hill; 347-689-4279; $7 and up Whether you show up at Brooklyn newcomer Karloff for a hangover-obliterating meal or cozy date-night dinner, latkes will be on the menu. Get them with eggs cooked your way and a scoop of caramelized onions in the morning. At dinner, the potato cakes come with a choice of grilled veggies; creamed mushrooms; applesauce or sour cream; or lox, eggs, and onions.
186 Franklin St., nr. Greenwich St.; 212-431-0606; $9–$18 The menu at this Catskills resort spinoff features latkes “for the table,” which come with two topping options: applesauce compote, or sour cream with a trio of fish roe — American paddlefish caviar, wasabi-infused, and salmon roe. A rotating latke special that will run through the holiday is also available.
97A Hoyt St., nr. Atlantic Ave.; Boerum Hill; 718-852-7510; $12–$14 The Montreal-style restaurant offers three types of latkes — potato and chive; sweet potato and butternut squash; celery root and parsnip — to pair with haute toppings like Meyer lemon crème fraîche and quince compote. At the deli counter, there’s a trio of latkes on the menu, as well as a platter of two open-face latke sandwiches — one topped with whitefish, lox, and salmon roe; the other with liver, lamb bacon, and quail egg.
113 MacDougal St., nr. Bleecker St.; 212-475-3850; $22 At brunch, the Village clubhouse offers inch-thick latkes made from shredded potatoes that could easily be confused with a gigantic pile of hashbrowns. Served as the base of an eggs-Benedict-style dish, the accompanying slices of smoked salmon, eggs, and hollandaise give the dish legs.
227 Sullivan St., nr. 3rd St.; 212-337-0863 This village spot serves the least traditional latke of the bunch: a shredded root vegetable version that’s heavy on the carrots, with a peppery bite. Loose-textured and tiny (you’ll find them on the “tapas” menu), they’re finished with a side of faintly spicy Indonesian date butter.
2nd Ave Deli
162 E. 33rd St., nr. Third Ave.; 212-677-0606 1442 First Ave., at 75th St.; 212-737-1700; $5.95–$15.95 Both locations of the uptown standby serve excellent, if conventional, potato pancakes. These two finger-thick patties come with a choice of applesauce or sour cream — not to mention a gratis shot glass of chocolate soda to wash down the grease.
144 Second Ave., at 9th St.; 212-228-9682; 9 E. 1st St., nr. Bowery; 212-387-7000; $3.75–$9.25 The most like mom’s, Veselka’s latkes (served at both of the restaurant’s locations) are thin and doughy with crispy edges. They come singly or as plate of three with applesauce or sour cream. Since Veselka on Second Avenue is open 24 hours a day, you technically have 192 hours of Hanukkah to get your fix … no excuses.
Yonah Schimmel Knishery
137 E. Houston St. nr. First Ave.; 212-477-2858 Yonah Schimmel literally made its name with its superlative knishes, but the bread-plate-size potato pancakes here are doughy and chewy in the best possible way. They’re two bucks a pop, so down one or two at a communal card table then take some more home to reheat in the oven. A word of warning: Call before you go if you’re jonesing for the latkes. We recently showed up only to discover they’d sold out for the day.