By Adina Applebaum

Bet you didn’t know that grasshoppers are kosher. Just cooked up a delicious dinner of giraffe and interested in having your kosher-only friends over for dinner? You’re in the clear. If you’re looking for a loophole that will allow you to serve BLTs at your child’s bar mitzvah, you’re probably out of luck, but try the next best thing: slapping some certified-kosher Baconnaise on your sandwiches.

Kosher food often calls to mind the likes of brisket and knishes, but believe it or not, that’s not all Jews eat. New York is a gold mine for those who subscribe to kosher standards of dining, and I’m not just talking about the legendary plethora of delis. In fact, many kosher restaurants in New York are frequented by visitors who might not even know what kosher is. Check out this list of six kosher spots in New York worth visiting whether you keep kosher or not.

1. Max and Mina’s Ice Cream

What do Isaac Mizrahi and horseradish have in common? Aside from the fact that they’re best in moderation, both are flavors of ice cream at Max and Mina’s in Kew Gardens, Queens. The ice cream place, owned by brothers Bruce and Mark Becker and inspired by their private ice cream tasting club, boasts flavors like lox, champagne and ketchup — and the endorsement of Rosie O’Donnell on their website. Too scared to sample a scoop of merlot? TMax & Mina’s has classic favorites like chocolate, too.

2. Pickle Guys

Okay, so a logo like “Smells great … taste better” sounds sketchy, but hey, that’s what you get for spending nine hours around pickle juice all day. Cute catchphrases aside, Pickle Guys, run by Alan Kaufman, is an establishment worth checking out because it’s the only pickle store left on the Lower East Side. Fortunately, it’s a great one, and they don’t sell just pickles: You can get pickled watermelon and pineapples, too. While Pickle Guys goes for traditional pickle-making methods, using barrels to soak their goods, they’ve embraced technology enough to get what is possibly the most epic landline in existence: 1-888-4-PICKLE.

3. Blossom

Sometimes, those of us who will be eternally banned from cheese on our burgers forget that we’re not the only ones who can’t get take-out at McDonalds. In fact, veganism might be the only diet more restrictive than keeping kosher. Thankfully, there’s Blossom, a kosher vegan restaurant with several New York locations where those who don’t eat animal products and anyone who keeps kosher can get together and pretend that fake scallops are just as good as the real thing. All joking aside, Blossom’s menu is full of breakfast, lunch, dinner and desert dishes so mouth-watering (like their lavender coconut creme brulee) that you might start wondering why everything isn’t vegan.

4. Shalom Bombay

Listening in on the conversation between two old women sitting behind me at synagogue, I once learned this piece of valuable advice: “Honey, we’ve come a long way since waiting for kosher Crisco.” Kosher food is constantly expanding, searching for new cuisine to make accessible. Kosher and Indian food might sound like a weird combination, but hey, there are Jews in India, too

5. Mason & Mug

Anyone who’s ever kept kosher knows the true test of strength comes not in the face of bacon, Dairy Queen or chili fries, but in cheese plates. Finding a craft food store in the city was almost always an impossibility, but thanks to Prospect Heights’ Mason & Mug, you can finally order a kosher cheese plate so good you’ll forget all the times you looked longingly into the windows of Murray’s Cheese Shop moaning “Why?” Those who don’t keep kosher are likely to wander in to Mason & Mug unintentionally; with its kale salad and National Geographic-plastered walls, the restaurant screams Prospect Heights more than it does anything else.

6. Grill on Wheels

Grill on Wheels spends its time whizzing around midtown (and updating its Twitter page to let you know where you can find their couscous and shwarma next). Shoutouts on Grills on Wheels’ Twitter are likely to include phrases like “Shabbat Shalom,” but don’t worry, even if you’re not planning on observing the Sabbath, you can still stop by their truck on a Friday afternoon to grab a delicious “crazy chicken” sandwich.

Let us know below in the comments below if you’ve tried any of these surprisingly kosher restaurants before and have a favorite dish! Also, is there a neighborhood spot you frequent that you were surprised to learn had kosher certification? And the most important question of all: What the hell does Isaac Mizrahi ice cream taste like?

With Passover coming up, you might not get a chance to hit all of these local kosher spots before you damn yourself to a diet of matzah, matzah and something that isn’t called matzah but still tastes like matzah. Consider this, though, your personal bucket list for that moment after the holiday ends and you can begin binge-eating leavened foods again. Max and Mina’s on April 23, anyone?

Adina Applebaum is Michigan native studying English and creative writing at Barnard College. Her crowning achievements in life are memorizing all the lyrics on The Slim Shady LP and eating an entire gallon of chocolate-covered raisins during orientation week of college.

(Image credits, from top: Flickr; Max and Mina’s; Pickle Guys; Blossom; Google Plus; Shalom Bombay; Facebook; H&H Bagels; Barney Greengrass; Grill on Wheels)

This blog post about great places to eat is brought to you by Nine Rabbits, the bestselling novel by Virginia Zaharieva now available from Black Balloon Publishing.

About the Book:

A restless writer's fiery enthusiasm for her family's culinary traditions defines her from childhood to passionate adulthood as she strives for a life less ordinary. Lush gardens, nostalgic meals and sensual memories here are as charming as the narrator herself.

About the Author:

Virginia Zaharieva was born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1959. She is a writer, psychotherapist, feminist and mother. Her novel Nine Rabbits is among the most celebrated Bulgarian books to appear over the past two decades and the first of Zaharieva's work available in English.

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