I always get this weird itch at the back of my neck around the end of February, which I have recently discovered to be the deep, compulsory urge to eat as many hamantaschens I can before Purim. That’s right everyone, the two-day celebration that recounts the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre during the Persian period, is upon us.
This is the season where alcohol flows, gift baskets are exchanged, and most importantly — triangular shaped treats are being eaten en masse. What originally started at a German poppy-seed filled pastry pocket has become symbolic rockstar of Purim, that directly translates to “Haman’s Ear” or the consumption of Haman, the villain of the Purim story. The simplicity and instant recognizability of these cookies make it fairly obvious as to why the treats have remained so popular over the years, with thousands of exciting new interpretations and flavors to try.
So, I decided to go on a hamantaschen tour around the Manhattan area and have come up with five places to get hamantaschen for Purim. As we approach the holiday, consider embarking on your own hamantaschen tour of NYC, including these picks down below. Here are the places you won’t want to miss.
Seed + Mill
Opened in Chelsea Market in 2016, this halvah and tahini specialty counter are once again offering special halvah-taschen the week leading up to Purim. The dough is chocolate infused and filled with a decadent pistachio-halvah and cherry jam center. Preorder them here.
This bakery has Hungarian origins and two locations in uptown Manhattan. The establishment has been serving an assortment of baked goods since 1916, with a special focus on artisanal wine breads such as ciabatta, baguettes and spelt. But that doesn’t mean they don’t go all out for Purim with their special selection of hamantaschens. These can be bought one at a time or by the half pound in flavors such as poppy seed, apricot, prune, and chocolate. This is a good bulk cookie spot, but feel free to savor them one at a time by dunking a triangle headfirst a steamy cup of espresso — this part isn’t up for debate.
William Greenberg Jr. Desserts, Upper East Side
Started by the late William Greenberg in 1946 after gathering enough funds to open a bakery through a lucky round of cards, this Upper East Side dessert establishment is known for its bulk catering of signature Jewish desserts, ranging from rugelach to black and whites. Their hamantaschen are of an equally high standard, as their cookie recipe is a super soft, jammy triangle that comes in a whopping seven flavors in both large and mini size varieties. It’s a spot that’s certainly old school, but if it ain’t broke…
Opening in 2013 at its Union Square location, the Israeli-owned Breads Bakery has since cemented itself as one of New York’s best go-to bakeries with five locations across Manhattan. The establishment makes thousands of hamantaschens every year for Purim, offering the cookie in poppy, chocolate, apricot, apple, and even pizza flavors. Their hamantaschen recipe strikes a balance that’s both sturdy enough to hold the rich fillings and soft enough to bite into with ease, making it a little difficult to only have a couple at a time. All in all, they’re worth the hype.
Moishe’s Bake Shop
Not much has changed at Moishe’s Bake Shop, an East Village destination for hamantaschen and dozens of other old-school Ashkenazi sweets, since it opened its doors in 1978. These super crunchy hamantaschen, filled with prune, apricot, raspberry and chocolate, are all must-tries. The no-frills bakery harkens back to an East Village not yet crowded with million-dollar condos and upscale boutiques, which is reason alone to visit.
Russ & Daughter’s
Starting as a tiny push cart in the Lower East Side by a Jewish Polish immigrant, this iconic appetizing counter, cafe, and bakery has been open for over a hundred years in the historically Jewish NYC neighborhood. This was the place where I tried my very first hamantaschen, and even amidst more triangular cookie experience, R&D’s fruit flavored triangle cookies are still a super solid choice to bring to any Purim gathering. They come in raspberry, prune, apricot, and poppy seed flavors and can either be purchased individually at their counter or in conveniently packaged variety containers for those larger hamantaschen needs. This place is well-known for a reason, and I recommend that you come during a weekday, as you might not have to wait in line to get inside.
Hungarian Pastry Shop
This signature Columbia student hangout in the Upper West Side has been open since 1961 and has retained its cult-cool-cafe status for generations. It’s adjacent to a giant cathedral, has a consistent line of hungry patrons waiting to get a spot inside, and peddles quality pastries to match the crowd — giant, palm-sized hamantaschen included. The flavor offerings are minimal, as the triangle cookies are only sold in the traditional poppy seed and prune variety. However, the hamantaschen’s zesty, lemon infused dough and airy crumb makes this cookie a perfect midday treat, or a hearty energy source for an intellectual debate. Come for the vibes, stay for the ‘taschens.
Sander’s Kosher Bakery, Williamsburg
Dozens of small shops and kosher markets and bakeries line the bustling Hasidic corridor of Lee Ave, but the best shop for hamantaschen is Sander’s Kosher Bakery. Their cookies are made with shortbread-like dough, and filled with a creamy chocolate filling or sweet blueberry jam. At 50 cents a cookie, it’s a bargain!
A previous version of this story was written by Aly Miller in 2017. This story has been updated March on 2, 2023.