The Best Jewish Food in Boston

The best bagels, pastrami, hummus and sweets to nosh in Beantown.

The Boston area has one of the most vibrant Jewish communities in the United States, and its smorgasbord of Jewish food options reflects the city’s dynamism. From the neighborhoods of Boston proper to the nearby hubs of “Camberville,” Brookline, Newton, and beyond, the Bostonian Jewish food scene is vast, covering the many areas where Jews have settled in and around the city.

Highlights include classic Jewish delis, beloved bakeries, and serious falafel spots that have been feeding Boston residents for decades. But you can’t miss the innovators, like the new wave of bagel bakeries and delis that are introducing cocktail programs and Middle Eastern flavors to otherwise standard Eastern European Jewish menus. Heck, where else can you get a slivovitz cocktail with your pastrami sandwich?

Be sure to take advantage of the many ways Boston offers visitors and residents alike to learn from experts and get hands-on in the kitchen, from cooking classes and workshops to community gardens. And for the serious cooks out there, fill your grocery basket at any number of lively and exotic markets dotted around the city.
So, welcome to Boston, where you can’t help but leave with a head full of history and a belly full of Jewish eats.

 

On any given Sunday in Boston, you’ll want to grab a bagel and a coffee at one of the classic spots, like Katz Bagel Bakery in Chelsea, owned and operated by the Katz family since 1938. Founder Harry Katz is reportedly the first person to sell pizza bagels, which you can still buy at Katz today. Rosenfeld’s Bagels has been a Newton favorite for over 40 years. In addition to fresh bagels, it also bakes fresh challah and babka, and it’s kosher-certified. Kupel’s in Brookline, which is also kosher-certified, is another no frills spot for quality bagels made fresh daily. And Bagels’ Best Bakery Cafe is deeply beloved by Needham locals. Check out the creative array of schmears.

Katz Bagel Bakery
139 Park St
Chelsea, MA 02150
(617) 884-9738
Location: Chelsea

Rosenfeld’s Bagels
1280 Centre St
Newton, MA 02459
(617) 527-8080
Location: Newton
*This restaurant is kosher.

Kupel’s
421 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 566-9528
Location: Brookline
*This restaurant is kosher.

Bagels’ Best Bakery Cafe
113 Chapel Street
Needham, MA 02492
(781) 433-0003
Location: Needham
*This restaurant is kosher.

 

In 2013, Bagelsaurus opened, ushering in a new wave of bagel craftsmanship in Boston. Bagelsaurus takes bagels seriously, slow fermenting sourdough culture to form a chewy, flavorful bagel with just enough crust. Owner Mary Ting Hyatt is particularly known for her less than traditional sea salt bagel with honey-rosemary cream cheese. Exodus Bagels began as a pop-up in 2015 and opened a shop in Jamaica Plain early in 2018 following a successful crowdfunding campaign. Exodus is known for numbering each batch of bagels it makes (they’re on Batch 611 at the time of writing this) and for its multi-layered bagel sandwiches like the Bubby, a sandwich of chopped liver, dill, and horseradish with roasted beets and greens. A bit west of the city is The Bagel Place, a new spot that hails from Vermont and apparently imports its bagel-boiling water from the Green Mountain State.

Bagelsaurus
1796 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
(857) 285-6103
Location: Cambridge

Exodus Bagels
3346 Washington St
Boston, MA 02130
Location: Boston, Jamaica Plain

The Bagel Place
300 Needham Street
Newton, MA 02464
(617) 467-4244
Location: Newton

 

If you love a good Jewish pastry (and who doesn’t?) stop in for a nosh and some Hebrew lessons at Galit’s Treats, an Israeli-owned and family-focused bakery specializing in challah, bourekas, and lots of vegan and gluten-free options. Or check out Quicksilver Baking Co., a new addition to the scene that’s all about quality rugelach. Try the savory olive tapenade flavor or the more classic raspberry and walnut. You can pre-order for pick up every Tuesday at the Newton Center Farmers Market. Cheryl Ann’s challah and babka are some of Brookline’s favorites and have been since 1985. The bakery is kosher-certified and family-owned. And then there’s Blacker’s Bakeshop, also kosher-certified (as well as pareve and nut-free) and owned by a husband and wife team, Richard and Karen Blacker, who make all the Ashkenazi Jewish classic breads and desserts by hand.

Pro-tip: If you’re in nearby Sharon, MA, consider ordering any number of wacky flavored challahs from challah guru Mandylicious Challahs. She takes orders online, uses only kosher ingredients, and makes flavors like sticky bun challah and pulled brisket challah. Her Instagram says it all. You can also try your hand at making Mandylicious’ red velvet cake challah recipe.

Galit’s Treats
749 Beacon St
Newton Center, MA 02459
(617) 244-2411
Location: Newton Center

Quicksilver Baking Co.
Newton Center Farmers Market every Tuesday (pre-order or purchase on site)
617-875-7188
Location: Newton Center

Cheryl Ann’s
1010 West Roxbury Parkway
Chestnut Hill, MA
(617) 469-9241
Location: Chestnut Hill
*This restaurant is kosher.

Blacker’s Bakeshop in Newton
543 Commonwealth Avenue
Newton, Massachusetts 02459
(617) 332-2008
Location: Newton
*This restaurant is kosher.

 

Boston is no slouch when it comes to deli. Michael’s Deli (previously located in Marblehead, where Jeffrey’s grandpa Joe once made his famous chicken salad and coleslaw), is a favorite in the Jewish hub of Brookline. It’s been open for 40 years, and the corned beef has been winning awards just as long. Owner Steve Peljovich comes from a Cuban Jewish family and brings that spice and fire to everything he does, especially his weekly rotation of “Krazy Knishes” like the guava challah bread pudding knish. Zaftig’s has two branches (in Brookline and Natick) where you can enjoy breakfast all day, including matzah brei or potato pancakes with all the works. A bonus: They give you bagel chips and dip when you take your seat! For brunch, get there early and be prepared to wait. Barry’s Village Deli in Newton has been opened since 1970 and features all the deli classics, including a special Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur menu. And though it isn’t Jewish, per se, Sam Lagrassa’s is a downtown Boston sandwich shop famous for giant corned beef reubens and even a pastrami caprese salad. A few T stops away, in the Boston Public Market, you’ll find Beantown Pastrami, a cozy counter that offers what some say is the best pastrami around.

Michael’s Deli
256 Harvard Street
Brookline, MA
617-738-DELI (3354)
Location: Brookline

Zaftig’s
335 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02446
617 975 0075
Location: Brookline

Zaftig’s
298 Worcester Rd
Natick, MA 01760
(508) 653-4442
Location: Natick

Barry’s Village Deli
6 Windsor Rd
Waban, MA 02468
(617) 527-9773
Location: Waban

Sam Lagrassa’s
44 Province St
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 357-6861
Location: Boston, Downtown

Beantown Pastrami
100 Hanover Street
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 943-0705
Location: Boston, Downtown

 

Boston is muscling its way to the top of the list of US cities with serious deli street cred. The crew behind Mamaleh’s Deli in Cambridge brings a deep devotion to chopped liver and smoked meat and fish. Located just across the Charles River from Harvard, this exciting restaurant built an award-winning cocktail program in a bright, airy space that feels new and timeless all at once. You can’t go wrong with your order, but definitely try their matzah ball soup, the Mushroom Rachel (a vegetarian Reuben), a housemade soda (celery, dill pickle, beet, etc.) and their inventive cocktails. When Our Father’s Deli opened in 2017, it was an instant hit. The new deli brings together the Eastern European legacy of hand-cut pastrami, corned beef, and gribenes (fried chicken skins) with a sprinkling of Middle Eastern flavors, such as its za’atar salmon, as well as its lamb meatballs with yogurt and harissa. A bit further afield, out in Waltham, you’ll find the celebrated Moody’s Deli, where chef Josh Smith serves his signature Katz sandwich (pastrami, mustard, and swiss on rye) with a side of classic coleslaw and potato salad in an upscale setting. Moody’s famously cures all of its own meats and sausages in-house and has become a serious destination for cured and smoked meat aficionados.

Mamaleh’s Deli
One Kendall Square
15 Hampshire St.
Cambridge, MA 02139
617-958-DELI
Location: Cambridge

Our Father’s Deli
197 N Harvard St
Boston, MA 02134
(617) 303-0101
Location: Allston

Moody’s Deli
468 Moody St
Waltham, MA 02453
(781) 216-8732
Location: Waltham

 

Bostonians are completely in love with Inna’s Kitchen, located in the trendy Boston Public Market and now in a second location in Newton as well. Part of the charm of Inna’s Kitchen is that it is unabashedly, globally Jewish. They’re known for “shakalatkes” (a shakshuka and latke combo), as well as hot, flaky knishes, soups, and pot pies. The owners are a mother-son team, Inna and Alex Khitrik, who are originally from the former Soviet Union and who emphasize gluten-free and nut-free recipes in their cooking. As a bonus, their space in Newton is obtaining Shtiebel Eco-Kosher Certification and is completely gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free.

Inna’s Kitchen
Boston Public Market
100 Hanover St
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 208-9380
Location: Boston, Downtown

Inna’s Kitchen Culinaria
547 Commonwealth Avenue
Newton, MA 02459
(617) 795-2626
Location: Newton

 

Israeli chefs are having a moment in the Boston area. With locations that bracket Beacon Street, Cafe Landwer opens early in the day for a well-brewed coffee and the famous Landwer’s Israeli style breakfast, featuring pita, feta, salad, eggs, and za’atar chickpeas. By night, locals love the shnitzel and the vegan shwarma. Bonapita, Israeli chef Ilan Barniv’s downtown spot, emphasizes healthy foods drawn from the Mediterranean diet with some of the top falafel in Boston. The restaurant has two locations, both featuring chickpea zucchini falafel and soft-serve frozen custard on the simple yet satisfying menu. Tatte Bakery and Cafe has 11 locations throughout the Boston area and features quality baked goods and a nice sprinkling of Israeli specials like shakshuka and spicy lamb kebabs, inspired by Israeli baker and founder, Tzurit Or. The Chubby Chickpea Truck can be found zipping around town and serving up laffa wraps filled with eggplant, chicken shwarma, and falafel. Chef Avi Shemtov, founder of the truck, just opened Simcha, a brick and mortar location in Sharon, MA. Another great mobile mouth-filler is ChikChak, which offers falafel, shwarma, hummus, and more. Rami’s, a tried-and-true, kosher-certified spot, claims to have the best falafel in town. However, the folks at Jerusalem Pita (another Israeli-owned spot) may beg to differ. Others are fiercely loyal to Jake’s Falafel Corner in Newton.

Pro-tip: Clover Food Lab has multiple locations around the city, serving up kosher-certified, global, vegetarian cuisine with a couple of Israeli-inspired dishes on the menu like sabich and chickpea fritters.

Cafe Landwer – Boston
900 Beacon St
Boston, MA 0221
(857) 753-4035
Location: Boston, St. Mary’s

Cafe Landwer
383 Chesnut Hill Ave
Brighton, MA 02135
(617) 383-5786
Location: Brighton

Bonapita
49 Franklin St
Boston, MA 02110
(857) 350-4606
Location: Boston, Downtown Crossing

Bonapita
75 Spring Street
West Roxbury, MA 02132
(978) 224-4030
Location: Boston, West Roxbury

Tatte Bakery and Cafe
See website for all 11 locations throughout Boston.
Original location:
1003 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 232-2200
Location: Brookline

Chubby Chickpea Food Truck
(781) 828-6868
Location: Follow on Twitter for daily locations or visit the website for weekly schedule.

Simcha
370 South Main Street
Sharon, MA 02067
(781) 828-6868
Location: Sharon

ChikChak Food Truck
(617) 13-5030
Location: Visit the website for weekly schedule.

Rami’s
324 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 738-3577
Location: Brookline
*This restaurant is kosher.

Jerusalem Pita & Grill
10 Pleasant Street
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 739-2400
Location: Brookline
*This restaurant is kosher.

Jake’s Falafel Corner
740A Beach Street
Newton, MA 02459
(617) 640-2995
Location: Newton

 

When you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get cooking in your own kitchen (or just pick up some specialty foods to eat at home), Boston has a wide array of markets. For Ashkenazi comfort food and other provisions, visit The Butcherie in Brookline, a kosher grocery store with a variety of prepared foods to go, crunchy snacks, and frozen foods. If you’re an Israeli food enthusiast and love experimenting with Middle Eastern cuisine, Watertown, MA is home to some fabulous Armenian markets along Mt. Auburn Street that carry everything you’d need to whip up a Middle Eastern feast, from date syrup and rose water to specialty produce. Check out Arax, Massis Bakery, and Sevan Bakery. And for those who are interested in traditional Eastern European flavors, the four locations of the BaZaAr Supermarkets carry all of your Russian ingredient needs, such as caviar and buckwheat honey. Their slogan, “Royal Delicacies at Peasant Prices,” tells you everything you need to know.

The Butcherie
428 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02446
617-731-9888
Location: Brookline
*This restaurant is kosher.

Arax
585 Mount Auburn St
Watertown, Massachusetts 02472
(617) 924-3399
Location: Watertown

Massis Bakery
569 Mt. Auburn Street
Watertown, MA 02472
(617) 924-0537
Location: Watertown

Sevan Bakery
599 Mount Auburn Street
Watertown, MA 02472
(617) 9924 3243
Location: Watertown

Baza Supermarket
30 Tower Road
Newton, MA 02464
617 986 8510
Location: Newton

Bazaar West
855 Worcester Rd
Framingham, MA 01701
508 872 7272
Location: Framingham

Bazaar Beacon
1432 Beacon St
Brookline, MA 02446
617 739 8450
Location: Brookline

Bazaar on Cambridge Street
424 Cambridge Street
Allston, MA 02134
617 787 1511
Location: Allston

 

There’s more to do than eat Jewish in Boston! Beantown Jewish Gardens offers you the chance to get hands-on and experience Jewish food from the roots, literally. Join the organization for programming at any of its gardens located at various Boston area synagogues and JCCs. The organization also plans the Boston Jewish Food Conference, which is held each spring, bringing together the community for a full day of learning about agriculture, food access, local history, and of course, noshing. The Boston Fermentation Festival is an annual event that takes place in August at the Boston Public Market and features tons of workshops about pickling and fermentation of all kinds. Boston Ferments, the organization behind the festival, also runs programs throughout the year, including a kraut mob (Google it) at the Boston Jewish Food Conference. The Jewish Arts Collaborative (JArts) hosts a regular kitchen exploration series of hands-on classes that tie together Boston’s Jewish neighborhoods and the Jewish foods that have been a part of their history. JArts also hosts a popular tasting event known as Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen, which takes place each spring and features tastes from the best Jewish chefs in Boston and beyond. Kitchen Kibitz, a beloved Jewish food pop-up company, organizes sporadic collaborations with restaurants and chefs which offer fun, interactive opportunities to engage with (and eat!) the newest wave of Jewish food.

Beantown Jewish Gardens and Boston Jewish Food Conference
Location: Various locations throughout Boston. Festival occurs each spring.

Boston Ferments and Boston Fermentation Festival
Location: Events held throughout the year at various locations with an annual festival in August.

Jewish Arts Collaborative and Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen
Location: Events held throughout the year with annual festival held each February/March.

Kitchen Kibitz
Location: Events held throughout the year at various locations/restaurants.

With input and insight from local experts: Jim Ball [Jewish Arts Collaborative], Jeff Gabel [Kitchen Kibitz], Sara Gardner [Culinary Historian], Josh Luckens, Laura Mandel [Jewish Arts Collaborative], Matt Robinson [Matt’s Meals], Rabbi Charlie Schwartz [Hillel International], Carine Warsawski [Trybal Gatherings].

 

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