A knish for every taste on the Lower East Side

March 1, 2010 3:18:18 PM PST
New Yorkers love their food, and everyone has a favorite pizza place or burger joint. But when it comes to knishes, one shop on the Lower East Side has stood out for a century.

In fact, March marks the 100th year of Yonah Schimmel Knishery at 137 East Houston Street.

Knishes are hefty balls filled with tradition.

"Whenever I'm in the city, I have to stop here," one traveler said. "I'm flying back from Birmingham, and I doubt they've even seen a knish."

According to city lore, Yonah Schimmel is responsible for the knish.

"He wanted to teach people and kids spirituality, but there was no money in it," the Knishery's Alex Volfman said. "So his wife started making knishes."

And Yonah sold those knishes from a cart on Coney Island. But in 1910, the eastern European immigrant opened on Houston street. The neighborhood has changed since then, but everything in his shop has remained the same, kept in tact by extended family.

All the baking is done in the basement below the store and has used the same recipe for a century.

So what's a knish? Basically, it is mashed potatoes wrapped in dough. The potatoes are thinly sliced, molded into balls and baked.

Each fresh tray is hoisted to the store above, and there's a knish for every taste.

There are also sweet versions, made with cheese.

"The knishes are great," one customer said. "I like the chocolate, and I'm going to settle for apple and blueberry today."

While Yonah Schimmel may be steeped in Jewish tradition, anyone can enjoy a knish.

"I'm Italian and Irish," another customer said. "But you love a knish, I love a knish!"

And for those who can't make it to the Lower East Sside, they'll ship knishes to you.

For details on how, and for more information, visit Knishery.com.