Upper West Side
541 Amsterdam Ave.
between W.86th/87th Sts.
A New York institution famed for its smoked fish. Resist eating in the crowded restaurant and instead purchase some delicate sturgeon or briny caviar and bring it home to be the centerpiece of a salad platter or holiday hors d'oeurves. You can get much of what you'd need to make your own brunch, including bagels, cream cheese and sweets.
An excellent and reliable selection of smoked fish including salmon, sturgeon, sable, and whole smoked fish like chubs which are smoked baby whitefish, as well as cured meats like corned beef and pastrami. They also offer sweets like halvah and rugelach and the great New York classic, the black and white cookie.
What to avoid:
At times it can seem like all of New York wants to have Sunday brunch here. Shop during off hours to avoid the crowds who can easily fill this small store.
What to know:
You may get better prices for much of what's sold here by shopping a few block west at Zabar's. But the folks at Barney's are specialists and you will be delighted by the depth of selection within this classic New York delicatessen. If you're unfamiliar with much of what they sell and you want to be educated, go when the store is less busy (e.g., a weekday morning) and ask for advice and suggestions, something you're less likely to get at the much busier Zabar's.