Angry Rant from a New Yorker: Can I get a Knish?

By Ben Adler

Spencer’s post on Eli’s kosher deli intrigues me. I’ve never been to Eli’s, but a Jewish friend has raved about it to me. God knows this city needs places like that. If there is one cuisine that is disrespected on the rare occasions it isn’t ignored in the District, it’s Jewish. You cannot find a decent bagel anywhere in this town.

There are virtually no bagel places. (There’s one around 20th and K, it’s alright.) And, pace Matt, saying you need to go out to the suburbs for a decent bagel is absurd. Bagels are for eating on the spur of the moment, late at night or shortly after waking up. They need to be in close proximity. Half the bagels consumed in this town are not even bagels. They are those ridiculous square “bagels” at Cosi. The other half are mostly bread in a donut shape.

And I have literally never seen a Knish in this town. At Papaya King in New York recently I tried explaining to a friend from high school that you cannot find a Knish in DC. He was appropriately shocked and horrified.

Now, for kosher meat and such: The only place I’ve been to for it is Loeb’s on 15th Street. Loeb’s is bad. It’s not even kosher! They serve BLTs and ham and cheese sandwiches. The latkes, which they call “potato pancakes,” are oily and soft, not crispy. Nonetheless, I frequently had a yen for it when I worked near by. The fatty, salty meat sandwiches just satisfied in a way that other DC options do not. I’d frequently get this sandwich that came on twin challah rolls with roast beef, Russian dressing and cole slaw. Deliciously nasty, except that for some idiotic reason they also put slices of cheap, tasteless Muenster cheese on there. Why even take advantage of an easy opportunity to be kosher, right?

So, I’d kill for a good corned beef. Judging from the picture Spencer put up, Eli’s looks like the real deal. Lean, scrumptious and piled high. Good Jewish food in D.C.? I guess there’s an exception to every rule.

9 responses to “Angry Rant from a New Yorker: Can I get a Knish?

  1. FYI: I’m pretty sure Mozart Cafe has knishes.

  2. Yes, Cafe Mozart does indeed have knishes, in 3-4 varieties, I think.

  3. They are the wrong kind. All round and doughy. I want the square kind with some mustard on it. And they sit in a refrigerator all day and they heat them up in a microwave. I want it to be sitting on a grill. It should be hot and crispy like at a hot dog stand.

  4. the problem with even most knish places in new york is that they don’t have meat knishes at most places. Potato, sure! Kasha, maybe! But meat, god no!

  5. Way back when my better half used to work at the Treasury Dept. and there was a street vendor who sold kosher dogs, knishes, felafel, etc. Being a native NYer, he stopped by to get a knish because they looked like the ones you can get in NYC. Unfortunately, the guy sold his last knish but my husband was able to get a kosher hot dog. I made him shower that evening because he was sweating garlic.

    I recall a Jewish deli in the same shopping center as the Loehmann’s in Falls Church called The Celebrity Delly. My husband loved their pastrami and they do have potato knishes on the menu.

  6. I, too, yearn for a good Jewish deli but I don’t think we’re ever going to get it. I can’t remember the name, but there was a kosher deli on Penn Ave that I thought was very good–an opinion backed up when I went there with a Jewish friend from NYC. It’s a Fogo de Chao now.

  7. I like how you couldn’t bring yourself to call the Cosi option by its given name – squagels.

  8. San Francisco has the same problem. No good bagels; the only place you can get knishes is literally at the science fairgrounds and who wants a knish baked by a carni? Especially a spinach knish? Yuck. Corned beef and pastrami? Nope. Crispy dill pickles? Nope. Kugel? They haven’t heard of it. The only latkes in town are “silver dollar potato pancakes” that mock Jewish heritage in their tiny, chewy, lumpiness. But I still order them, bc what is a girl to do?

  9. For corned beef, the only game in town is Deli City on Bladensburg Rd. Gotta drive, though, and it’s not open on weekends. Not kosher, but outstanding.

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