One of the best-kept secrets of Manhattan, Zabar's is a unique blend of deli, gourmet grocery, and restaurant supply store. It's located on the Upper West Side, at the corner of Broadway and 80th Street, conveniently across the street from the equally famous H&H Bagels. The store is open 365 days a year, and is crowded even on Christmas Day.

The popularity of Zabar's has a lot to do with its amazing variety. The first floor is full of food; when you walk in the door, the first thing you see is a room full of hundreds of varieties of cheese, as well as a selection of twenty kinds of olive and fresh squeezed orange juice. There's a candy section featuring European chocolates and fancy cakes, a bread section with fresh selections from several good New York bakeries, and an entire smoked fish counter, with a dozen kinds of smoked salmon. There are separate prepared food sections for Kosher and non-Kosher offerings, and the selection bears more resemblance to a four-star restaurant than the average deli's meatloaf-and-knish offerings.

Upstairs on the Mezzanine, you'll find an array of kitchen toys that gadget-loving chefs can spend cheerful hours drooling over. There's standard plastic patioware and silly refrigerator magnets, but you can also find molds for every French dessert you've ever heard of, KitchenAids and coffeemakers and fancy food processors, and pots and pans ranging from cheap to restaurant-quality (with prices to match). If you're looking for a present for someone who loves to cook, it's a good place to start.

For people unlucky enough to not be in the New York area, Zabar's also offers a mail-order catalog and on-line store, both accessible at If you get the chance to visit, however, it's definitely worth experiencing for yourself. The crowds may be a pain, and the prices may vary, but for anyone who loves food, it's worth the trouble.

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