If you visit some of the old Jewish delis that have feed hungry New Yorkers for generations, it’s easy to feel like they’re a dying breed. The big ones are alive and well, but they’re also major tourist traps, and feel like the exception rather than the rule; Fine and Schapiro, Second Avenue Deli, Ben’s Best and Sarge’s are seldom the full, bustling spaces they once were. Yet not all hope is lost, as in recent years a new generation of deli men and women have started to reclaim this food and open new businesses. Places like Shelsky’s and Frankel’s have recently opened to major acclaim, yet one of the most prominent of New York’s new Jewish delis is Mile End. Since it first opened in 2010, Mile End has been introducing Montreal-style Jewish deli food to New York. While they started out in Boerum Hill, they have since opened more locations, both in NoHo and most recently Midtown, just around the corner from Grand Central.
Montreal Jewish deli food has a lot in common with its New York counterpart, and there’s still plenty of salami, rye bread, matzoh ball and salmon. Yet there are some major differences: bagels are made slightly differently, but most noticeably pastrami is replaced with “smoked meat”, a type of smoked brisket made famous by Montreal institutions such as Schwartz’s. The Midtown location will be offering Mile End classics such as smoked meat and poutine, but the menu will be modified for the new spot: hot dogs, reubens and most noticeably Canadian corn dogs, which aren’t available in the deli’s other locations.
The deli will be open between 9 and 5 on weekends, then 7 to 9 on weekdays. As a promotion for the new location, the new location will be offering bacon egg & cheese sandwiches with coffee for $5 through Labor Day every weekday before 9am.
This third location of Mile End reveals that this Jewish deli is taking a much different route than its other counterparts. Since first opening in Boerum Hill six years ago, Mile End has gained a reputation for great food; their bagels, lox, smoked meat and poutine have been hailed as some of the best that New York City has to offer. In listings of the top Jewish delis around the city, Mile End has been consistently ranking alongside names like Katz’s and Carnegie. But while most of the old New York institutions are content to have one location and wait for the customers to come to them, Mile End is the only one that’s been progressively building more locations. Although three locations doesn’t feel like much, they have been steadily growing, much like other recent New York restaurants that are steadily gaining multiple locations around the city, such as Xi’an Famous Foods (Chinese) and Mighty Quinn’s (BBQ). While these have ambitions to expand outside of New York (and Mighty Quinn’s already has), it’s clear that out-of-city expansion is the next step. Where Mile End chooses to go next has yet to be seen.