Kossars Bialys

Art & Culture

The oldest Bialy Bakery in the US

Kossar Bialys Exterior Lower East Side

About Kossars Bialys

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • You’ve met the New York bagel, probably become close friends. We’d like to introduce you to its more reclusive but equally loveable cousin, the bialy.
  • Let’s clear this up right off the bat: What’s a bialy?
    • It’s a flat roll, with an indentation in the middle rather than a hole. Traditionally it’s sprinkled sparingly with finely chopped onions that caramelize during baking.
  • Why’s it called a bialy?
    • Bialys originated in Bialystok, Poland.
  • When Morris Kossar opened his bialy bakery on nearby Clinton Street in 1936, there were so many bialy bakers in New York that they formed a union called the Bialy Bakers Association.
  • In fact, rumor has it that the Bialy union was behind a suspicious mid-century explosion at Kossar’s original location, which led the shop to move to its current digs on Grand Street. Here’s what went down:
    • Around 6:30am on Feb. 19, 1958, an explosion wrecked Kossar’s plate-glass windows, and blew the bakery’s iron basement door wide open.
    • The police traced the blast to a 50-foot wire in the bakery’s basement that was connected to a 9-volt battery two doors down at 141 Clinton.
    • Why? Well, nobody can prove that the Bialy union blasted Kossar’s, but let it be stated for the record that Kossar had recently abandoned the Bialy Bakers Association and joined the Local 3 of the Bakery and Confectionery Workers Union.
    • So, all that to say, Kossar’s moved to 367 Grand in the early 60s.
  • Today, Kossar’s still turns out bialys from the same storefront. It’s the oldest bialy bakery in the US, but it’s no longer run by anyone named Kossar.
    • Kossar’s passed from family ownership in 1998 and was most recently renovated in 2016.
  • The bialy recipe is the same, but the menu’s different.
    • Today at Kossar’s you can get everything from the classic onion bialy to the sundried tomato bialy (also fish, baked goods, etc.)
  • It’s also the first time that bagels are billed before bialys at Kossar’s.
  • The shop is now called – gasp! – “Kossar’s Bagels and Bialys.”  Is this as explosive as the situation in 1958?? We think so.
  • Regardless of the name change, we still still think the bialys are great as do the location scouts of Showtime, as they recently featured Kossar’s in an episode of Billions.
By: Lucie Levine

Carpe City Trivia

If you're thinking, hmm, where have I heard "Bialystok" before...

  • The Producers!
    • The character Max Bialystok, originated by Zero Mostel and taken up by Nathan Lane, is named after the Polish city of Bialystok, just like the Bialy itself!
  • FYI – There is also a historical synagogue in the Lower East Side called the Bialystoker Synagogue.

By: Lucie Levine

New York City Tours

Great Places Near Kossars Bialys

Doughnut Plant Lower East Side
Art & Culture

Doughnut Plant

Cult-Favorite Treats, Dubbed "Doughnuts of the Gods."

379 Grand St, New York, NY 10002
The Pickle Guys Lower East Side
Art & Culture

The Pickle Guys

Blessed Briney Barrels of Bliss

357 Grand St, New York, NY 10002
Hester Street Fair Lower East Side
Art & Culture

Hester Street Fair

Part Street Fair, Part Fashion Show, Part Business Incubator, Part Flash Mob…

25 Essex St, New York, NY, 10002
Ten Bells Natural Wine Carpe City
Bars

The Ten Bells

A Destination for Natural Wine with a Laid Back Atmosphere & Great Oyster Happy Hour

247 Broome St, New York, NY 10002
ICP Museum and School Lower East Side
Art & Culture

International Center of Photography Museum & School

A School & Museum Whose Focus is on Developing Images that Make an Impact on the World

79 Essex St, New York, NY 10002
Essex Street Market Lower East Side
Art & Culture

Essex Street Market

A Food Shopping Hotspot that Originated with Pushcarts in 1818

88 Essex St, New York, NY 10002
Ridley's Pink Department Store NYC Lower East Side
Art & Culture

Ridley's Department Store

Pink Paint and a Wild Cold-Case Surround this LES Landmark

319 Grand St, New York, NY 10002
Reception Bar Soju Bar Lower East Side
Bars

Reception Bar

Creative & Cozy Korean Soju Bar in the LES

45 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
The Market Line Lower East Side
Art & Culture

The Market Line

Hip Marketplace of Eclectic Food Vendors & Restaurants in the New Essex Crossing

115 Delancey St, New York, NY 10002

More Great Walking Tours

Subscribe

Sign up to our monthly e-mail about the latest and greatest places for food, wine art and history

Skip to content