A Wednesday post on The New York Times City Room Blog reminded me...Yonah Schimmel's knishery on Houston Street is 100 years old this year! Some claim Yonah Schimmel invented the knish, and whether he did or not, the store remains one of the last old-school holdouts on the Lower East Side, along with Katz's Delicatessen and Russ & Daughters appetizer shop (all within a few blocks of each other).
I've been stopping in for Yonah Schimmel's handmade baked knishes since I moved to the city in the mid-90s, and fondly remember the gruff service received by the bleached-blonde woman behind the counter during the neighborhood's pre-gentrification days (I wonder if she was the wife/mother of the current owners, father Alex Wolfson and daughter Ellen Anistratov?). Today, the knish trade must be much better (they seem to get a ton of business from moviegoers at the renovated Landmark Sunshine next door), and while service can be incredibly slow, it's a much more pleasant experience.
I have to say, I tend to favor the cherry-cheese variety (yeah, the cherries are from a can, but it brings back wonderful childhood memories, so who cares?!). Yesterday I tried Ms. Anistratov's recently-invented red cabbage knish, which was kind of perfect for a wintry day.
Yonah Schimmel, 137 East Houston Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues).