The Last Of The Great Bronx Kosher Delis
I’m not saying that I don’t believe good Kosher delis can exist in the Bronx, I do, and I know the Borough’s strong immigrant Jewish history, I was just quite frankly surprised that this Kosher deli was still alive and kicking, in the predominantly Latino Kingsbridge neighborhood. Read More
On Friday I jumped in a cab with a friend and headed to what I had been told by numerous people was the best Kosher deli in New York. I was a bit skeptical, not only because I had actually never heard of the place until two weeks go, but also because I had to “travel” to get there, as the deli was in the Bronx. I’m not saying that I don’t believe good Kosher delis can exist in the Bronx, I do. And I know the Borough’s strong immigrant Jewish history. I was just, quite frankly, surprised that this Kosher deli was still alive and kicking, in the predominantly Latino Kingsbridge neighborhood.
Our Cab pulled up to the corner of 231st St. and Broadway and there we were, standing in front of the fifty-year-old deli, Loeser’s. The place exuded charm from the minute we stepped out of the cab. I had called to the restaurant earlier in the week and was told to ask for Fredy Loeser when I arrived. There was one guy standing behind the deli counter when we walked in, he was slim, older, smiling broadly and wearing a baseball cap with the American flag painted on it and a red Hebrew National T-Shirt. I asked him if Fredy was available, and his immediate reply was, “never heard of Fredy,” and that was my first encounter with Fredy Loeser.
Fredy opened Loeser’s with the help of his father fifty years ago, using the money he had earned from his Bar Mitzvah. The place is full of nostalgia from the restaurants past five decades of existence, with photos lining the walls with pictures of the many people who have eaten there, including Hilary Clinton, Mayor Bloomberg and former Mayor Koch. Everything in the place is homemade, including the coleslaw, and the smell of deli hits you as soon as you walk in.
My friend and I took a seat in the back and immediately ordered the Matzah ball soup and two Black Cherry Dr. Browns. The soup came out piping hot and had the delicious taste of kosher chicken broth that had clearly been homemade, salty and savory. My dining companion mentioned that the most important aspect of Matzah ball soup really is the broth, because the ball is just a vessel with which to soak up the goodness, and this broth was definitely impressive.
Next came the cole slaw, homemade and creamy, yet made with no cream, as this is of course a kosher deli. The cabbage was fresh and crisp and we both agreed to save some of the serving for when our sandwiches arrived. We asked Fredy what he considered to be his best two sandwiches and his response was the pastrami and the brisket, so that’s what we ordered. The sandwiches came out with a good portion warm meat on delicious slices of rye bread.
We split the sandwiches and ate the first few bites the classic way, just meat, deli mustard and rye. The pastrami and brisket were both incredibly moist and tender, not one tough chew in any bite. We then added the coleslaw and reveled in the delicious combination. We were stuffed, but the meal was not yet over. Out of the kitchen came a giant latke, perfectly browned, with fresh made applesauce. A perfect end to our deli meal.
The best part about the whole experience, though, was not just how delicious everything was, or how affordable (the sandwiches are all $7.50, try finding that at most metropolitan delis), but rather watching how this deli man has adapted and remained such a vibrant and important fixture of his community as it has changed around him. While we ate, we saw African American police officers come in for their lunch break, and Hispanic customers taking food to go. Not once did we actually see anyone who appeared to be Orthodox or observant, but still Fredy maintains Loeser’s as a Kosher deli, and an absolutely delicious one at that. If you’re looking for an authentic Jewish deli experience that also reflects the incredible multiculturalism of New York, head to Loeser’s. You will not be disappointed.