Sign Of The (Past) Times: Hebrew National At 139 Montague Street

The former La Traviata cafe, which is en route to becoming an Irish pub and restaurant, has revealed its roots, as the shuttered eatery’s signage came down today. Before La T took over 139 Montague Street (between Henry and Clinton) some 30 years ago, a full-frontal sign heralded “Hebrew National.”

Sure enough, our precious 1976 Montague Street Revitalization Proposal verifies that a restaurant by that name was based at the address some 35 years ago. Who remembers more?

La Traviata closed in November 2011. BHB first reported in February that RDR Bar & Restaurant Corp. plans to open a Tavern-Restaurant in the space.

(Photos: Chuck Taylor/Vintage: 1976 Montague Street Revitalization)

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  • knitwit

    Thanks Chuck. I knew you would do the research.

    I checked with a friend who living here for thirty years and he doesn’t remember it at all.

    Boy, I wish this neighorhood did have an old fashioned deli that served a pastrami sandwich on rye. Old style. Have to travel uptown to the Carnegie or to 33rd St for the Second Avenue deli for my once a year pastrami attack.

  • Eddyenergizer

    HN was great, Frankfurters and Knishes, Corned Beef and Pastrami on Rye… Yummers. They closed early eighties when Lenny’s Clam Bar moved over the spot, renamed as La Traviata.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    We have a great smoked meat old style sandwich on Hoyt Street in the name of “Mile End”. Give it a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised as to the quality of the food.

  • Scottilla

    My grandfather’s dental office was right across the street at 150 Montague. We ate at Hebrew National all the time. There and the China Tea Cup.

  • resident

    @Knitwit: Operating a business to serve someone’s “once a year” craving doesn’t seem like the best way to be profitable… ;-)

    In all seriousness, those types of deli’s are great, but there’s a reason there are very few around anymore. Tastes have changed…

  • Ballerina

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a Hebrew National in the Heights again. It is almost impossible to find Jewish food anywhere in the Heights. Mile High is a little far and from what I have heard it is overpriced and not very good. Theresa’s is our closest good option. Thank goodness for Theresa’s.

  • David on Middagh


    Small point: it’s “Mile High”, not “End”. I’d say their brisket on rye is comparable in quality and price to a Katz’s sandwich. Their Boerum Hill restaurant is very small, just the opposite of Katz’s, which makes it special in its own way.

  • Livingston

    I’ve been to Mile High. Highly recommend it!

  • Nancy

    We need a real kosher Jewish deli in the Heights. I wish Mill Basin Deli or Adelman’s would open an outpost. Those are the real delis of Brooklyn.

  • Eddyenergizer

    It is Mile End and yes, the Montreal style smoked brisket sandwich is excellent but its not quite the same as the traditional brisket, pastrami or corned beef. If you want the real deal Katz’s is still the best.

  • eg

    FYI – Mile End Road is located in the east end of London and runs through the old Jewish quarter. People from there took the name to Montreal with some of the local dishes. I was hoping for the English style salt beef, different from corned beef,(which may have come from Hungary). I haven’t been there yet, but say goodbye to low prices. There has been a sharp uptick in the last few months and even Teresas will reflect it.

  • David on Middagh

    I meant “End” not “High”, of course. Garrr! (Thank you, Eddy.)

  • Reggie

    The restaurant is Mile End, but the meat is stacked mile high. I cannot finish a whole sandwich, which is quite tasty, and I consume 3,000 calories a day. Maybe some latent vegetarianism….

  • Andrew Porter

    Mile End is also a neighborhood in Montreal, from which the owner of ME comes. He’s also opened a take-out place on Bond Street in lower Manhattan. And, please note, Montreal Smoked Meat is neither corned beef nor pastrami, so you can’t compare the three. For MSM, if you can’t get to Montreal or Toronto, Mile End is a far less expensive alternative.

    David on Middagh has eaten at the Hoyt Street place, btw.

  • Andrew Porter

    I also note that I too remember the Hebrew National-signed store, but I never went in, far preferring Pic-A-Deli.

  • philica

    I agree with Knitwit… the nabe def. needs a deli like that. There used to be one on Court Street, a tiny one, where I think the movie theater is now (or was it the next street?)… Anyways, I remember their knishes were AWESOME. Mmmmm… makes me want one now…

  • jmoney

    I remember this store being called Pastrami Queen in the 80’s