New York's iconic eatery Junior's — best known for its cheesecake — has opened its first South Florida location in Boca Raton. A soft opening happened on Friday, September 30. Doors officially open at 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 2. Regular business hours will continue starting Monday at 11 a.m.
Junior's owner Alan Rosen is carrying on the family tradition; his father, grandfather, and uncle founded the original Brooklyn restaurant on election day in 1950. In the past several decades, the restaurant has opened additional locations in Times Square, Grand Central Station, and Connecticut's MGM Grand Hotel at the Foxwoods Casino.
Rosen tells New Times that since his father moved to Delray Beach, he has been looking for the right spot to open a Junior's in the area. The perfect one appeared as the former Ruby Tuesday space in Boca Raton's Mizner Park.
According to Rosen, the Boca Raton menu will be very close to the original Brooklyn location, serving what his family calls "Brooklyn comfort food." The 270-seat eatery (150 indoors, 120 on the patio), will feature a full bar, retail bakery, and take-out department.
"We have almost 200 items on our menu, from corned beef to pastrami to broiled fish," Rosen told New Times in February. "You can have a nice meal that runs the gamut from a simple salad to a sirloin steak."
The numerous options are a melting pot of homestyle eats, the most popular among them being Junior's famous onion rings, Hungarian beef goulash with egg noodles, homemade cheese blintzes, mile-high hot fudge sundaes, and, of course, that famous cheesecake. The executive chef has also created a half-dozen new menu items that will only be available at the Boca Raton restaurant.
Not sure what to try? If this is your first trip to Junior's, here's a quick list of the restaurant's most popular dishes, in no particular order:
5. Junior's Potato Pancake (Latkes).
As one of the world's most iconic delis — if not the quintessential New York one — you'd expect to find potato pancakes on the menu. Although traditionally served during Hanukkah, at Junior’s you can order them any day of the year, all day long. Skillet-fried to ensure maximum crispiness, they arrive as an entrée platter, three large pancakes made from russet Idaho potatoes, served with a homemade chunky applesauce and sour cream alongside. They also make great sandwich bookends, as evidenced by the popular Junior's sandwich, the "Something Different" — a meaty tower of beef brisket stuffed between potato pancakes and finished with au jus, mushroom gravy, and applesauce.
4. Junior's Pastrami Sandwich.
Love sandwiches? Junior's got 'em all, with delicatessen meats baked fresh and in-house, from the brisket and prime roast beef to corned beef and pastrami. They're best on fresh-baked onion buns, but you can go for traditional rye bread too. If that's not enough, there are also several varieties of baked ham, turkey, a Hebrew National salami, and beef tongue. Specialty sandwiches include options like the open-face tuna melt served on jumbo English muffins; chicken, egg, and shrimp salads; grilled cheese made with thick-cut challah bread; and the restaurant's famous chopped liver served with lettuce and red onion.
3. Junior's Cheese Blintzes.
If you love blintzes, you'll find yourself craving the ones you'll get at Junior's. These cheese blintzes, served three per order, are renowned for their exceptional, crepe-like fluffiness (and no wonder — the restaurant makes them in a real French crepe pan). And that creamy cheese filling? It's pretty much the same ingredients as their famous cheesecake. The dish is made complete with a side of sour cream and warm strawberry compote.
2. Junior's Steakburger.
You might not look to a New York deli for a good cheeseburger, but that's what you'll get at Junior's. They offer several types of 10-ounce "steakburgers" made from fresh (not frozen) beef, each option served with both onion rings and steak fries. They serve a range including regular steakburgers or cheeseburgers to the Swissburger with sautéed mushrooms and pastrami-Swiss cheeseburger topped with Swiss cheese and house-made pastrami.
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1. Junior's Cheesecake.
While the exact origins of New York-style cheesecake are unknown, Junior’s has been serving up slices of their own version of this dense, sponge-bottomed, creamy cake since 1950 and is now perhaps the city’s best-known purveyor. Since the opening of its original Brooklyn restaurant more than 60 years ago, the decadent dessert has been the go-to essential for New York's family holiday parties and celebrations. Although the restaurant offers a number of seasonal and specialty variations, the basic cheesecake continues to be made exactly the same way it was the day the restaurant opened. There are no secrets to the recipe, either: It's a simple blend of Philadelphia cream cheese, eggs, sugar, heavy cream, and a touch of vanilla. The batter is blended for 45 minutes before being baked in a water bath in rotating ovens, giving it a perfectly moist consistency. Oh, and it's kosher, of course.
Junior's Restaurant. 409 Plaza Real, Boca Raton; 561-672-7301, or visit juniorscheesecake.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.