New York City

Is Zabar’s New York’s Best?

Zabar’s New York’s, best original neighborhood market, thrives while nearby competitor Fairway goes belly up. The reason is simple. Zabar’s knows what it is and doesn’t get outside itself.

To really appreciate New York City, you need to get out of your own neighborhood and enjoy unique destinations creating the identity of others.

One such place is Zabar’s, at 2245 Broadway (80th Street), the definition of New York style.

The Upper West Side has many pluses, but Zabar’s is worth the trip, all on its own.

Related: Over in the UES, Finally A Trader Joe’s

Reporting by David Stone

Zabar’s FAQ

Where is Zabar’s?

2245 Broadway at the northwest corner of West 80th Street.

How do I get there?

Zabar’s is one block from the 79th Street Subway, a local stop for the 1 Train. Catch an SBS M79 crosstown bus at the same location with connections to almost everywhere.

Best goods?

Bagels, olives, smoked fish and a small, but excellent choice of their own pickles.

Downside?

Zabar’s is cramped, even by New York standards, but the personnel are friendly and lines move fast.

Free tip?

Immediately prior to holidays, it gets very crowded and cranky. Be prepared.

Founded by a Refugee, In the New York Tradition

Zabar’s, founded by Louis Zabar, a merchant who escaped persecution the Ukraine in 1934, has been at its present location since the 1970s. Abundant choices among bagels, smoked fish, olives, and cheeses keep the aisles and take-a-number counters busy.

zabar's New York's best food market
Zabar’s sits on a stretch of Broadway resembling a boulevard with a wide center mall and benches anchoring each intersection. But Zabar’s contrasts with simple appeal.

According to Wikipedia, Zabar’s has left such an imprint, “It is mentioned in the 1998 film You’ve Got Mail, the 2009 TV series V, and episodes of Northern ExposureWill & GraceDream OnThe Green InfernoHow I Met Your MotherMad About YouFriendsSex and the CityBroad CityThe NannySeinfeldThe SimpsonsThe West WingStudio 60 on the Sunset Strip30 RockThe Daily ShowThe Colbert ReportHart of DixieCastleEpisodesPardon the InterruptionLaw & Order, and Gossip Girl.”

Love cheese? Here’s where you find a wide variety of the best.

What makes Zabar’s New York’s best?

Unlike Fairway, Zabar’s has kept to its roots, selling a reliable line of foods at good prices. Fairway’s demise into bankruptcy traces to expansion.

Not just in New York City, where it went well.

But into New Jersey and Connecticut. Those places come to us. We don’t go to them.

Bagels are a New York thing. People get emotional about them. Really. Recently, Mayor de Blasio got roasted online for saying he preferred his toasted. Like he sinned against community values. Anyway, I’ll stick my neck out. Bagels from Zabar’s are the best. I’ve even waited a half-hour until empty bins were filled.

The Zabar family still runs the store. But brother Eli has built his own independent operation across town on the Upper East Side, including The Vinegar Factory and E.A.T., nice but not a true inheritor of Louis Zabar.

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