New York Restaurants: B&H Kosher Diner in the East Village

by Sasha Wilkins on March 13, 2013 · 17 comments

The B&H Diner East Village

During the blizzard in New York last month the one thing I was determined to do was have breakfast at the counter at the B&H Dairy diner in the East Village.  It’s a proper, old school Kosher diner that’s just a few feet wide with the smiliest short order cook. You eat breakfast perched on a stool at the counter for a few dollars. It’s not cool or trendy or full of, ack, scene-y people.

It just feels like my little corner of New York.

The B&H Diner East Village

That’s because I used to live a block or so away,  first on East 6th between 2nd and 1st, and then on St Mark’s Place (East 8th), between 1st and A. I ate my breakfast eggs at the counter all the time, revelling in its pure Americana.

I don’t remember why I first went in. I suspect it was simply because I like diners & I like eating breakfast out. If I had suspected that there was an eggs purveyor near my apartment I would have been there like a shot.

The B&H opened either in 1937 or 1938 (they can’t remember), and I swear it can’t have changed much since then, bar the tray of wheatgrass in the window for juicing. The old cash register is still in use, and the local cops double park outside to stroll in to pick up their bagged lunches to go.

It’s billed as a Vegetarian Diner, but there’s lox on the menu, along with a tuna melt and a smoked white fish sandwich. You could have an Egg Cream, a cup of mushroom barley soup or a fresh carrot juice.

The B&H Diner East Village

I’ve always meant to order the specials, the Polish dishes Dixon introduced me to when we first moved to the city. Potato Knish with Gravy, Stuffed Cabbage, Pierogis with Mushroom, Blintzes…but somehow I always have the same thing: eggs with a heaping pile of home fries, and a great splash of ketchup.

The B&H Diner East Village

The B&H Diner East Village

There is always a doorstop of their house made Challah bread (B&H is famous for its Challah French toast), sandwiched with butter and plopped on a paper plate. Very good coffee comes in a silver vacuum for refills, and the breakfast special orange juice – proper, not thin & cheap like you’d get in England, is served as a shot in tiny plastic glasses.

The B&H Diner East Village

I like that I have a usual. I like very much that when I wandered in last month the lovely young counter guy flashed me his usual beaming grin, and asked me how I’d been. It was at least two years since I had eaten my breakfast at the counter, and I felt the tears spring. Nothing could have made me more homesick for my old life in New York.

I can’t recapture what it felt like living there, not really; that part of my life is done and over. But it doesn’t stop me returning to sit at the counter and order Two Eggs Any Style, Home fries for $5.00.

The B&H Diner East Village

There is a glorious history of the B&H here.

The B&H Diner East Village

127 Second Ave., New York, NY 10003
nr. St. Marks Pl

 

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Sophie C March 13, 2013 at 02:09

Thanks so much for sharing this place!! I am a Brit but currently on an PR internship in New York for the year. I also live on Saint Marks! Will definitely be checking out this place! :)

P.S I sat next to you in the press room at LFW a couple of years ago (would have definitely asked for NY tips if I’d have known I would be going!)

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LLG March 18, 2013 at 10:59

@Sophie C: Ah well, there are lots in the blog, as I started it from NYC! I hope you have discovered Crif Dogs, PDT & Death & Co by now. LLGxx

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Emma March 13, 2013 at 02:49

I love your blog Sasha, in particular, thank you for taking me along with you on your travels. With three young daughters to look after, I don’t think I’ll be travelling too far from Adelaide for quite sometime, but your blog posts are almost as good as actually going there. :)
P.S. if you ever spot a red squirrel, could you photograph it – that’s a special request from my 8 year old Amy, whose ambition is to move to England so she can have a pet red squirrel!

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LLG March 18, 2013 at 11:00

@Emma: Thank you Emma: comments like this make it all SO much more worth it.

I’ll certainly keep an eye out for red squirrels, butI think Amy might be staying in Adelaide for a while, as those pesky grey squirrels have pretty much chased all the red ones away! Scotland, I think, is the best place for finding the red ones these days. LLGxx

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Sue March 13, 2013 at 06:32

Sounds like a real NY institution. Always curious about potato knish, must run to my copy of the Moosewood cookbook after I type this.

Why wouldn’t they remember a lovely English woman? But it is nice to be recognised and the sense of community sounds very appealing.

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LLG March 18, 2013 at 11:01

@Sue: Ah, well, I would never presume to be remembered! Let us know how the knish cookery goes…LLGxx

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Catherine March 13, 2013 at 07:04

What wonderful memories. Know what you mean. I never lived in NYC but used to visit a friend a lot and had a favourite diner near 72nd and Broadway I used to go to for a late breakfast every day. I love that you can get so many different types of toast as well, including rye.

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LLG March 18, 2013 at 11:04

@Catherine: I love rye too. I suppose in a way it’s a good thing there aren;t any diners near me in London or I really wold be the size of a house! LLGxx

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D March 13, 2013 at 08:27

yo, remember you taking me in a couple of years ago for breakfast and having the challah bread…..delicious. and prices about the same as the Times cafe near Queens Crescent…but which is definitely not kosher.

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LLG March 18, 2013 at 11:01

@D: YUM YUM YUM. LLGxx

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Victoria Wildman March 13, 2013 at 09:50

Sasha, this post makes me yearn to re visit New York. I’m now considering a big pile of home fries.

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LLG March 18, 2013 at 11:02

@Victoria Wildman: mmmmm home fries! I’ve never actually make them, but I’ve watched them being knocked up on the hot plate at B&H enough times. I feeling inspired now! LLGxx

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Jo March 13, 2013 at 09:58

Beautiful photographs :)

Please would you follow me too?

http://primeminsteroffun.blogspot.co.uk

xoxo

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LLG March 18, 2013 at 11:03

@Jo: Hi Jo. This blog doesn’t seem to exist. LLGxx

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Rebecca Haywood March 13, 2013 at 10:00

Looks delicious!

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GlamRosie March 13, 2013 at 15:23

I want to be back in NYC! It’s places like this that make it the city it is, love it x

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LLG March 18, 2013 at 11:02

@GlamRosie: Yes! I love too that they still exist. LLGxx

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