New York Coffee Shop was opened in 1978, three years after the adjacent Hot Bagels bakery opened.
The restaurant is located in a small, dated strip shopping center at 9720 Hillcroft. Settle into a booth and let the mauve and aqua interior transport you back to another place and time.
True to its name, the restaurant is reminiscent of a New York coffee shop. I half expected to see Jerry, Elaine, and George sitting at one of the tables ordering a big salad and an egg white omelet. Instead, on a recent weekday at lunchtime, the restaurant was packed mostly with senior citizens. The service was quick, the portions were huge, the prices were reasonable, and the food was diner comfort food, with an emphasis on traditional Jewish deli specialties such as pastrami, matzoh ball soup, and lox, and, of course, bagels.
Not sure what to order? Perhaps the larger-than-life photos of some of the menu offerings decorating the walls will help you decide:
While visions of bagels danced in her head?
The bagel shop is kosher, but the restaurant is not, as you can see by the generous amount of bacon on my friends’ club sandwich:
The dish that keeps me coming back to New York Coffee Shop & Hot Bagels is the smoked whitefish salad platter. There aren’t many places in Houston that serve this dish (the only other one I know of is Kenny & Ziggy’s, although you can buy smoked whitefish salad at Central Market). The platter comes with a generous scoop of whitefish salad, accompanied by a bagel of your choice and all the fixin’s (we are in Texas, after all):
No trip to this place is complete without stopping next door and getting a baker’s dozen of fresh-baked bagels and bialys to bring home. An assortment of flavored cream cheeses and other spreads are available, as well. Complimentary freezer bags and twist ties are included in every sack of bagels.
So what’s the secret to this restaurant’s longevity? Its strategic location near the Jewish Community Center and several temples probably doesn’t hurt. The vintage coffee shop charm of the restaurant surely appeals to displaced New Yorkers and New Jerseyites. But more likely it is the freshly-prepared deli plates, large portions, good values, and friendly service that keeps the regulars coming back.