New York City Restaurants

2nd Ave Deli

  • 162 E. 33rd St. Map It
  • Murray Hill
  • Deli

Published 09/10/2016

Fodor's Review

It may no longer be on 2nd Avenue, but the most recent incarnation of this East Village institution—about a mile uptown, in Midtown—still delivers on its longtime traditional matzo-ball soup, overstuffed three-decker sandwiches filled with house-cured pastrami, and other old-world specialties. Hot open-face sandwiches, like juicy beef brisket served with gravy and french fries, may be a heart attack on a plate, but hey, you only live once. Even better, you can now get your fill of kasha varnishkes, carrot tzimmes, and potato kugel until the wee hours of the night. There's also an outpost on the Upper East Side.

Restaurant Information


162 E. 33rd St., between Lexington and 3rd Aves., New York, New York, 10016, USA

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Published 09/10/2016


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Apr 29, 2017

Excellent Pastrami Sandwiches, and the Manager Is a Hoot!

My spouse and I dined at the Second Avenue Deli for brunch on a Monday morning in late January 2017. The deli is open daily from morning until late. The Second Avenue Deli offers two locations (neither of which is actually on Second Avenue): Midtown East (on East 33rd Street between Lexington and Third Avenues) and the Upper East Side (on First Avenue at East 75th Street). The deli also delivers and ships some food items and souvenirs if you can’t

get there in person. The restaurant does not accept reservations. Original owner Abe Lebewohl arrived in the United States as a non-English-speaker and accepted a job at a Coney Island deli, where he worked his way from soda jerk to counterman while he learned the secrets to making Jewish delicacies. In 1954, he opened a 10-seat luncheonette counter on Second Avenue at East 10th Street, where he worked every job in order to make his restaurant a success. Today, Abe’s relatives continue his dream and mission. Previously located on Second Avenue, the deli retained the name despite its move in 2007. Whereas the former location featured a separate room decorated with memorabilia from Yiddish theatre actress Molly Picon (including posters, song sheets, and photographs), the new location displays pictures of her on only a few walls of the dining area. Other décor includes intricately patterned tiled floors, and room dividers and wall mirrors that feature the restaurant’s name in eye-catching Hebrew-looking letters (which match the font/print on their outdoor signs). The deli's original iconic neon sign is now displayed in Brooklyn’s City Reliquary, replaced by a blue canopy with their name printed in white. The front half of the restaurant space contains a deli counter, where a glass case is filled with tempting offerings to order for dining in or to take away. Seating at wooden booths and tables is available in two areas behind the deli case. The Second Avenue Deli serves kosher Jewish cuisine. The deli's specialties include matzo-ball soup, corned beef, pastrami, knishes, gefilte fish, and cholent (stew). We ordered two of their amazing pastrami on rye bread sandwiches, accompanied by cole slaw and pickles. Its meat and poultry are “kashrut”, meaning that they are purveyed and prepared under Orthodox rabbinical supervision. Milk and dairy products not used or allowed on premises. Despite these religious adherences, the restaurant does not close on Shabbat (the Saturday Sabbath day). Reportedly, the restaurant is permitted to open on the Sabbath by employing a legal provision known as “shtar mechira”, in which a Jewish-owned business is technically sold to a non-Jew for the day and then sold back. We loved our pastrami sandwiches, but what we enjoyed even more was the humor and “shtick” of the manager/host. Good food and a good time!

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