The celebrity I was most excited to see on a recent trip to New York wasn’t Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson nor Sean Penn. That distinction goes to Saul Zabar of Zabar’s. I must confess that when I saw him in Zabar’s, I stared, debating whether or not to ask him for a photo. After chickening out, I soon lost myself in the dizzying and dazzling array of food in the store.
Zabar’s is a New York institution, with over 80 years of business in the same building. Since we were staying in a hotel, I chose to focus on baked goods which I could easily keep in the room.
Zabar’s bakes their own bread. There are so many choices that it’s a bit mind-numbing to look at them all.
I love rugalach and wanted to try a couple of pieces. For some reason, I was told that the minimum was three – on the bright side, it gave me an excuse to have more. I did notice that next door in their cafe you could buy the gluten free rugalach by the piece or get a price break on buying three.
The baked good selection in the cafe seems even more extensive, as I did not see a babka muffin (among other items) in the store. Pricing seems a bit inconsistent too, as I bought a piece of apple crumb cake in the store for $1.98, but they charge $2.29 in the cafe.
When he handed the bag to me, it was surprisingly heavy. I brought the crumb cake back to Los Angeles with me and weighed it when I got home. The crumb cake, which travels quite nicely, clocked in at over 8 ounces – half a pound. I’d say it was more crumb than cake, not that I’m complaining.
I also couldn’t resist bringing home a babka with me. I had a hard time deciding between the chocolate and cinnamon (First world problems) and would have brought them both home with me if I had room. Chocolate won in the end, of course, so it too flew back in my carry on. I somehow managed to carry home almost 3 1/2 pounds of baked goods in my carry on, 2 pounds courtesy of Zabar’s.
It was totally worth it. The babka dough was quite fragile, with the chocolate filling delicately suspended in its folds. The babka made for an awesome french toast base as well. Next time, I think I’ll just toss my clothes and fill my carry on with babka.
When the graffiti artist Banksy did his month residency in New York, Saul and Stanley Zabar wisely protected one of his creations with a sheet of plexiglass. I think this might be one of the few, if not the only one, of Banksy’s works that remains in its original location. With people like Saul and Stanley keeping a watchful eye on their family business and the neighborhood, New York continues to evolve, preserving old traditions alongside the new.
Location – 2245 Broadway, New York, 10024
Website – http://www.zabars.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Pesco-Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes