A guide to Jewish food in London
Fifty places to eat: delis, salt beef bars, restaurants, beigel/bagel shops and more
This article is a part of Vittles British Jewish Food Week. To read the rest of the essays and guides in the project, please subscribe below:
AH – Andrew Humphrey
AKK – Adrienne Katz Kennedy
AV – Aaron Vallance
BB – Ben Barsky
BaB – Barclay Bram
BR - Barnaby Raine
FG- Feroz Gajia
JB – Jesse Bernard
JH – Joel Hart
JN - Jonathan Nunn
LG – Laura Goodman
LT – Liz Tray
MA - Montague Ashley-Craig
MPS – Molly Pepper Steemson
TMS – Tomé Morrissy-Swan
TS – Tabitha Steemson
TV - Tom Victor
A guide to Jewish food in London
Fifty places to eat: delis, salt beef bars, restaurants, beigel/bagel shops and more
Editors note: If you want to read a full guide to London’s Jewish bakeries, which are not included in this compilation, then please read The London Rugelach Index, by Adrienne Katz-Kennedy.
To read our guide to Jewish food in Manchester, please click here.
Delis and Shops
Shalom Hot Bagels Bakery Patisserie Delicatessen
35 Woodford Avenue, Gants Hill, Ilford, IG2 6UF
Shalom Hot Bagel Bakery sits on the side of a dual carriageway off one of the six points of Gants Hill roundabout in an overlooked part of Ilford in the Borough of Redbridge. In the 1970s, Redbridge hosted one of Europe’s largest Jewish populations (around 30,000) and was a microcosm of Jewish life, with kosher bakeries, butchers, restaurants, banks and schools. A thriving community still existed until the mid-2000s, when younger families began moving further out into Essex and beyond but also back to more central areas like Golders Green and Stamford Hill. Now, Shalom Hot Bagels and the Chabad Lubavitch centre, which sits across the roundabout, are the last bastions of the area’s Jewish community.
Shalom doesn’t look like much from the outside but inside it is a triple threat of a counter service (bakery! patisserie! deli!), where display cases are crammed with smoked turkey breast, four types of salmon (Canadian, best, oily and dry), fish balls, latkes, gefilte fish, herring, tubs of chicken matzo ball soup, potato salad (both skin-on and skinless varieties) and shelves piled with bagels, platzels, challah, rugelach and babka. There’s hand-painted signage, dry goods stacked against the wall and fridges filled with fresh pickled cucumbers. Essentially, Shalom is a more compact version of NYC’s Barney Greengrass or Russ & Daughters that – if it had been located in Manhattan – would have already hosted an Aimé Leon Dore photoshoot and welcomed droves of in-the-know tourists, eager to snap the aesthetic of the interior and their haul of nosh for the ’gram. MA
98 High Rd, N15 6JR
Deli 98 has been serving Ashkenazi-leaning kosher cuisine to the residents of Stamford Hill for the last eight years, during which it has built up a reputation for food that is ‘heimishe’, a Yiddish word meaning a sort of cross between comforting and familiar. It describes Deli 98’s offering well: a blend of deli sandwiches, traditional favourites like stuffed cabbage, all the kugels of the rainbow and a few kosher-inspired versions of other cuisines like Cantonese-ish sweet and sour chicken or pastrami pizza. Like many other Jewish delicatessens, there’s a significant market for take-home items, especially towards the end of the week, which is when 98 really shines. Highly sought-after items like herring and slow-cooked cholent are intentionally absent from shelves until Thursday, when the place buzzes until midnight with a familial energy that feels a little like standing around the deli table at a family reunion, noshing and kibitzing in equal measure.
Deli 98 may seem impenetrable to outsiders, but the manager, originally from Belgium, lights up the moment you ask him a question, offering up menu suggestions and history, pointing out his favourites or suggesting when is best to come to get an even wider choice. It also remains the only place I’ve visited in London that sufficiently meets the expectations set by my late father’s voracious-yet-discerning affection for Hebrew National hot dogs. I hereby officially withdraw my original statement that the UK was devoid of such a thing – this one even comes in an oversized challah bun. AKK
9-10 Princes Parade, Golders Green Rd, NW11 9PS
Reich’s, a small deli at the bottom of Golders Green Road, is named for Nachman Reich, a quiet and reserved man who is exactly what you might imagine if you were casting a Hasidic caterer. He has it all: the size, the beard and the heavily accented English. He’s also renowned for his extreme generosity and kindness, a communal legend who is very much a personification of the food he’s famous for: heavy, hearty, understated, soulful and heimish. Reich’s has been doing this heimish food for almost 40 years and has become the undisputed king of the North London kiddush – the reception after morning prayers. Here, you might find deli staples like salmon and salt beef, but they play second fiddle to the real stars – cholent, kishke and kugel – calorific food cooked overnight so it falls within the limitations of Sabbath observance. This is ‘low and slow’ before East London discovered it.
Growing up, nothing beat the excitement of knowing that you had the full-on fress of a Reich’s catered kiddush coming up. Even now, as an adult with broader horizons and a more developed palate, it still excites me: cholent, a stewy sludge of brown potatoes, beans, barley, brisket and marrow fat, and kugel, an oversized, tray baked rosti. If you can’t get invited to a Reich’s kiddush, go to the takeaway on a Thursday or early Friday (cholent and kugel just doesn’t taste right on other days of the week). Brace yourselves for queues and expect to be ignored by the harassed staff. You may well need to help yourself – that’s what I do because I’m no good at waiting. A bowl will set you back less than a fiver. You might be able to finish it. You’ll definitely need a lie-down. BB
6c Ada St, E8 4QU
When Oded Oren’s restaurant on Shacklewell Lane first opened, I initially wrote it off as another MiddleEastMediLevantian restaurant to add to the pile. I was wrong. What won me over wasn’t the showstoppers like Barnsley lamb chops with zhoug, but Oren’s way with bread: arayes made from hake stuffed into pita and brushed with lamb fat, the effect somehow accentuating the taste of the fish, like salt on caramel; or oblong flatbreads topped with anchovies, confit onions and sour cream; or a just-baked whole challah, glistening like a bodybuilder on Muscle Beach. There are places in Paris where you would sit through a whole meal to get to the patisserie; you might have done the same in Oren, just so you could start with some pita and tomato.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that Oren’s second restaurant is not a restaurant but a deli in London Fields, where you can just have the bread. My favourite thing to do is to buy a challah with dips from the fridge, which veer from a chopped liver so lush you could use it as face cream, to exceptional egg salad and schmalz herring, all the way east to zhoug, hummus and preserved lemons. Add in the hot Sephardi meals to takeaway, the kind of butch, uncommercial stews you’d never get at Ottolenghi (Libyan chraime with hake kofta!), and you maybe have the most complete Jewish food establishment in London. JN
10 Hallswelle Parade, NW11 0DL
You may think that popping to Platters in Temple Fortune for your bagel accoutrements, just because it’s next door to Daniels Bakery, is an easy thing to do. And sure, it is. But the deli, which is heading into its 44th year of business, would stand very much on its own even if it didn’t have the perfect delivery system for its products just coincidentally sitting on the other side of the wall. If you’re veggie, get the egg and onion, or the cream cheese; if not, smoked salmon or chopped liver. You also need to buy the gefilte fish, both kinds (boiled and fried). The place is always briskly busy, with people shouting for what they need right now before the bagels stop being warm. (There is such a thing in my fam as the ‘bagel window’, aka the optimum couple of hours you get to eat Daniels’ not-quite-cooked bagels before they get cooler and harden, it’s a bit of a dance.) It’s worth braving the queues, especially at the weekends, because the staff move fast and are extremely nice. Get some latkes for the side. LT
Moshe’s Food & Deli
1097-1101 Finchley Rd, NW11 0QB
Moshe’s in Temple Fortune is the kind of shop that seemingly carries one of everything, as if it places orders based on a running community suggestion box. It’s kind of all here: kitsch, functional, modern living mixed with ancient Jewish traditions, a section to pick up Shabbos and yahrzeit (memorial) candles, a Passover-for-one ready meal, ‘Ma Nishtana pops’ in the frozen food section and a pickle section that would warm even the coldest Ashkenazic heart. It’s got a sushi bar. It’s got herring. It’s got pastries. It’s got an entire wall filled floor-to-ceiling with kosher wine and alcohol, a Tupperware and partyware section to match, and enough kosher sweets and pot noodle options to satisfy any child’s after-school needs.
Though clearly purpose-built to serve the kosher-keeping Jewish community, this is the kind of shop I’d imagine anyone would enjoy wandering through, stumbling across something they didn’t know they needed but now can’t live without, like the twirly Passover-themed straws complete with matzo or wine glass characters fixed to them (it’s customary to drink four glasses throughout the seder ritual) that I didn’t buy before the holiday started and have been regretting ever since. AKK
7 Russell Parade, Golders Green Rd, NW11 9NN
If you are dismayed by single-use plastic, pre-sliced vegetables or dairy-free cheesecake, Kosher Kingdom is not your supermarket. If you can look past those hyphenations, it’s paradise (not to be confused with Kosher Paradise, another, smaller supermarket 0.8 miles away). At Europe’s largest kosher supermarket, you can witness an abundance of foods that came from scarcity, a cuisine born from the wisdom that adding schmaltz makes even the blandest ingredient moreish. Dishes that once took hours to cook are available in family-sized servings. Ingredients once acquired through scavenging are sliced and ready to eat. Dips and shmears once made from scraps in secret are piled high at endcaps. It is an unapologetic display of products invented by those told they had everything to apologise for and everything to hide.
When I visit, I usually fill my trolley in the aisle devoted to chicken soup accoutrements: bright yellow croutons (delicious) or chicken-flavoured soup mix (mostly MSG, also delicious). However, it’s the fridge, filled as it is with disgusting-delicious Ashkenazi delights – chopped liver, egg and onion, and gefilte fish – which fills my soul. I resist the urge to turn my nose up at Sushi Haven, Candy Corner or the Munch ‘n’ Crunch salad bar. Their less-creatively named, non-Jewish siblings can all be found down the road at Finchley Road Sainsbury’s.
Kosher Kingdom is the 400m sq heart of London’s Jewish community: bountiful, generous, self-preserving and a little bit silly. At the height of the pandemic, it commissioned Stamford Hill singer Shloime Gertner to record a song. “Let’s stay safe and protect each other” boomed down the aisles of Kosher Kingdom for the best part of a year. No expense spared, the shop even re-recorded versions for Jewish holidays. As we learnt in Love Actually, nothing says festive remix like squeezing in an extra syllable to a line: “If the matzo aisle is busy, go to a different aisle…” TS
13-19 Circus Rd, NW8 6PB
Panzer’s Delicatessen in St John’s Wood is a sushi bar, greengrocer, wine merchant, coffee shop, falafel stall, bakery, brunch café and (although you’d be forgiven for forgetting this) deli. It is clean, bright, and still basking in the neon glow of its 2017 refurb. It’s not what it used to be, but this is a guide of what is, not what was. Panzer’s is now a New York-style culinary amusement park for the Jew-adjacent, selling the same retinue of products that line the shelves of every trendy deli in London, plus kiddush wine.
Things change; businesses diversify (see sushi bar), industrial shelving is replaced by bespoke pine, prices rise (a loaf of challah now costs £5). Some things, however, don’t. Panzer’s bagel recipe is the same as it was when they opened in 1944 and the bagels are good. They’re £1.10 each (do not buy one toasted with butter for £3.80 + service). You can still get Baron’s New Green Cucumbers (£4.50, 75p more than at Shalom Hot Bagel), which are the best pickled cucumber a person can buy and, behind the illuminated signs and artfully arranged vegetable towers, tiny Jewish grandmothers are still asking shop assistants to fetch them disposable roasting trays from the jaunty tower on top of the freezer.
The ‘new’ Panzer’s is a terrible compromise between new and the old, Britain and America, Jews and gentiles. It’s a nightmare, but I love it. I can’t in good conscience recommend it, but I can’t stop going either. MPS
Beigel and Bagel Shops
The White One and The Yellow One
Beigel Bake, 159 Brick Lane and Beigel Shop, 155 Brick Lane, E1 6SB