Walk past the corner of Manhattan Avenue and Bedford on any given weekend morning and you’re likely to see a line snaking out the glass doors of Frankel’s Delicatessen. The patient, hungry hoards wait under a neon sign growing faint red in the morning light, while all of Williamsburg slowly wakes up around them. The line appears almost immediately and lasts for hours. Getting up early to beat the crowds will only get you so far; Frankel’s morning rush lasts well into the early afternoon, when they start to sell out of everything. But all’s fair in love and a breakfast sandwich.
Frankel’s is the brainchild of brothers Zach and Alex Frankel, who come from the restaurant and music worlds, respectively. While the deli might have seemingly popped up overnight, the seed for the business was planted way back in childhood. The Frankels grew up on the Upper West Side, where Jewish delis–and all the smoked fish, brisket, bagels, lox, and matzo ball soup that come with it–were neighborhood standards. These are boys who were nursed on a diet of Barney Greengrass and Murray’s Sturgeon Shop. Frankel’s is an homage to that, and a very smartly placed one at that. Jewish delis in Greenpoint, with its historical stronghold of Polish diners and Italian pizza joints, are few and far between, if you can even find them at all. The shop’s immediate popularity is a sign of years of pent up, unmet demand. Not to mention great food.
Zach and Alex tapped Food Network kitchen alum Ashley Berman to spearhead the menu. The result is a mouth-watering selection of high-quality but unpretentious goods, like bagels with whitefish (bagels from Baz, fish from Acme) and braised brisket (borrowed from a recipe from Zach and Alex’s grandmother). This place deserves all the New York Times, New York Post, Pitchfork, New York Mag buzz it’s gotten over the last few months. But don’t just trust the food writers; head to Frankel’s and see for yourself. It’ll be worth the wait. Below, we talk to the Frankel brothers about rhinestone cowboys, Taj Kabab King, and flying while medicated.
Place of residence:
Zach: Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Alex: Brooklyn, NYC.
Zach: Owner/Director of Operations at Frankel’s Delicatessen.
Alex: Musician, Deli Man.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Zach: A successful restauranteur.
Quote to live by:
Zach: “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die.”
Alex: “It could go one of two ways.” — Zach Frankel
First job you ever had:
Zach: Stock boy at a wine store on Bedford Avenue.
Alex: Bike messenger.
Least favorite part of your day:
Zach: After the first snooze button goes off.
Alex: When I ask my brother to play a game with me and he says he can’t because he’s busy.
Windows down, the song you’re playing is:
Zach: “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell.
Three guilty pleasures:
Zach: Fro-yo, yuzu, Batman.
Alex: Doing the Borat voice, margaritas, Taj Kabab King.
You have a million dollars to spend on art, you buy…
Zach: Anything by Erik Parker
Alex: A country house, because architecture is art, too.
Plane, train or automobile for a trip?
Zach: Driverless car.
Alex: Well, I’m not gonna get to Formentera in a car, so, plane ?
What IS your favorite trip?
Zach: Anything that involves a beach and a piña colada.
Alex: Mushrooms. Acid is way too much.
Personal travel ethos:
Zach: “Airplanes are terrifying. Give me a Xanax.”
Alex: Never. Ever. Check a bag. Carry-on life.
Drink of choice:
Zach: Diet Cream Soda or piña colada.
Beach house or tree house:
Zach: Beach house.
Alex: Anyone who answers “tree house” is either really stupid or just under the age of eleven.
Where was the best meal you ever had and what was it?
Alex: Everything I ate in Japan.
What is the best news you ever received?
Zach: Frankel’s lease was official.
Alex: We got an A from the health department.
Briefly describe the best concert you have ever gone to.
Zach: Honestly, I hate concerts. I need to pee the entire time and it’s crowded and I just want to sit down.
Alex: LCD at Madison Square Garden was a big one.
Where do you go for inspiration, peace of mind?
Zach: Barber’s chair.
Alex: Frankel’s Delicatessen.