Today is the second day (and the third night of Chanukah), and I feel like I should share what I know about latkes in New York. The Manhattan latke world suffered a great loss recently when the Polish coffee shop Teresa's on First Avenue closed. Thank God the Teresa's in Brooklyn Heights is still open. Teresa's makes crisp, thin, oniony latkes that were to die for. Thin, crisp and crunchy on the outside, and soft and oniony on the inside. That is my latke Platonic ideal, and I hope you agree. I don't want my latkes to be more than an inch think. That's why I have so many problems with latkes at kosher-style delis. They make them too thick and they often don't fry them to order. That is a major latke sin. In fact, I think those deli owners are commiting latkecide. That's why you're likely to do so much better at Polish coffee shops, where they wouldn't dream of trying to get away with serving reheated latkes. So where does one go just such latkes worth the calories, the cholesterol, and the carbs?
Teresa's. At Teresa's they know how to make terrific latkes. Enough said. The apple fritters and the blintzes are excellent, too. 80 Montague Street Brooklyn, New York 718-797-3996)
Kasia's: In hipster-saturated Williamsburg it's comforting to know that Kasia's is still in its midst, dispensing latkes, kielbasa, and apple fritters as the ultimate hangover antidote. 146 Bedford Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11211 Ph: 718-387-8780
Community Kitchen and Juice Bar: I just got a hot latke tip from a serious eater, a nice Jewish boy, about the latkes at Neil Kleinberg's Community Kitchen and Juice Bar. That makes sense. Neil is a nice Jewish boy, too, from Brooklyn, he's a good cook, and he doesn't gild the lilly too much. The Upper West side needs a quality latke emporium. I will check these out myself in the next day or two. 2893 Broadway (nr. 112th St.) New York, NY 10025 Ph: 212-665-2800
The latkes at the Hotel Edison Coffee Shop, aka The Polish Tea Room, are good, not transcendent, but I don't think you'll find a better latke in Times Square.
Christina's. There has been a whole slew of Christine and Christina's Polish restaurants opening and closing all over Manhattan and Brooklyn. Christina's is a Greenpoint staple that will fill your belly with latkes for $4.75. In Polish Greenpoint they know from latkes. Incoming hipsters, take note. 853 Manhattan Avenue; Brooklyn, NY 718-383-4382)
Just Like Mother's: My mother was a terrific lady, but she couldn't cook to save her life. In fact she was proud of her lack of culinary skill, which she thought made a strong and forthright feminist political statement. My grandmother, however, also a strong and independent woman, cooked the kind of dishes you dream about. Her latkes were crispy, oniony, and not too thick. Her indomitable spirit lives on in the first-rate latkes served at Just Like Mother's. JLM's latkes are golden-brown, madely with coarsely ground potato, and have just the right amount of onion in them. In fact Just Like Mother's, which I would like to rename Just Like Grandmother's, serves fried-to-order latkes so thin they even put my late grandmother's to shame. Latkes can never be too crisp or too thin.
110-60 Queens Boulevard Forest Hills, Queens Ph: 718-544-3294.
I've also had good reports recently about the latkes at the Stage Restaurant on Second Avenue in the East Village. Can anyone confirm or deny?
Related: The most delicious, foolproof latke recipe I have ever come across—Latkes from 'A Passion for Potatoes'
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