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What happened to all the good deli's in SF

Ed Jan 15, 2004 02:07 PM

What happened to all the good deli's in SF. There was a good one on Geary called Herman's and one on Noreiga St. called Gilbert's. Gilbert's makes huge sandwhiches and had very good homemade pickles.

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  1. c
    ChowFun (derek) RE: Ed Jan 15, 2004 02:19 PM

    Gilberts closed many years ago as the neighborhood became less "Jewish" (there used to be a Jewish book store and bakery) and more Asian.
    Shenson's is the deli I think you are referring to on Geary...basically the same story...the natural evolution of the city...changing neighborhood (there was a book-giftstore, a kosher restaurant etc, etc.) The kosher butcher and Bagel bakery seem to be the last of a dieing breed.
    But , all hope is not lost! A new and constantly improving deli "East coast West" has opened at 1725 Polk street,(between Washington and Sacramento I think) to generally favorable reports...give it a try!

    17 Replies
    1. re: ChowFun (derek)
      Nancy Berry RE: ChowFun (derek) Jan 15, 2004 03:10 PM

      Nope, it was Herman's, a GREAT deli with the best potato salad in the world and really good sandwiches and other salads. I was really sorry to see Herman's close.

      Shenson's was another good deli on Geary -- also closed.

      1. re: Nancy Berry
        Deli Fan RE: Nancy Berry Jun 15, 2006 05:22 PM

        Is there a recipe out there for Herman's potato salad? It was wonderful and I would attempt to make it in a heartbeat.

        1. re: Nancy Berry
          SunsetSusie RE: Nancy Berry Nov 11, 2011 11:30 AM

          I grew up out in the Sunset and we always went for the Hermans Potatoe Salad. I just found a potatoe salad at a market in LaQuinta, CA, called Sprouts. Their salad is called San Francisco Potaoe Salad, and it is the same as Hermans.
          Do any of you old timers remember the "Golden Brown Bakery" on Irving Street? They had the best Almond Whreat Cake.

          Irving Street Cafe
          716 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

        2. re: ChowFun (derek)
          DavidT RE: ChowFun (derek) Jan 15, 2004 03:15 PM

          Most of the Italian deli's have been flushed out of North Beach as well. Panelli Bros., Florence Ravioli Co. and at least two others are gone. Only Molinari remains. However, I recall reading that a new Italian deli was going to open soon in North Beach.
          As the ethnic compositions of neighborhoods change, the foodstores and restaurants in those neighborhoods will reflect those changes as well.
          There is a relatively new deli/food store on outer Clement Street (near 32nd Ave. I think) that features Russian and Eastern European foods.

          1. re: DavidT
            joe RE: DavidT Jan 15, 2004 05:04 PM

            if the new deli that is opening in north beach is CAFE VERDE dont bother going. we went this saturday.ITS PRETTY BAD. i Dont think its even italian ,although it claims to be.

            1. re: joe
              Gary Soup RE: joe Jan 15, 2004 05:39 PM

              It's a deli, not a cafe. It's called Palermo, on Stockton St. between Green and Union. I believe it's open, but I haven't checked it out yet.

              1. re: Gary Soup
                joe RE: Gary Soup Jan 15, 2004 08:23 PM

                cafe verde was on green street across from cafe sport.

                1. re: Gary Soup
                  Morgan RE: Gary Soup Jan 16, 2004 02:19 PM

                  It didn't look open yet when I went by it last night. I am DYING for it to open!

            2. re: ChowFun (derek)
              dukedee RE: ChowFun (derek) Jan 15, 2004 05:54 PM

              Hermans it was on Geary nr 3rd Ave. Shensons is something else and further west. Hermans was famous
              for its potato salad and big sandwiches. Now
              it is a Gap.

              1. re: dukedee
                martin RE: dukedee Dec 24, 2004 07:45 PM


                1. re: martin
                  sfcalgal1951 RE: martin Jun 11, 2009 05:32 PM

                  Unfortunately I don't have the recipe for Herman's Potato Salad. (wish I did...I miss the deli's in SF too) But my Father swears that it is the "San Francisco Potato Salad" at Lunardi's Stores.

              2. re: ChowFun (derek)
                RWCFoodie (Karen) RE: ChowFun (derek) Jan 15, 2004 08:19 PM

                Many years ago the Western Addition (Fillmore-McAllister) was the center of all things Jewish in SF. I remember riding the bus with my Mom to the delis (Shenson's, etc), bakeries (Ukraine) and dried fruit/pickle store (Drabkins I think it was). Drabkins was my most fun stop because they had a big pickle barrel and always let me pick out my own pickle; a big deal to an 8-yr old. From what I remember, the goods were mostly in burlap bags or other bulk containers. I loved that store. The delis were something else; my most vivid memories are of riding home on the bus with the most wonderful aromatic packages of goodies. It was about an hours ride to our house and when we got home we would open the packages of meats, smoked fish (salmon of course and sturgeon when Mom was feeling flush), pickles (cucumber and green tomatoes), fresh light rye bread(without seeds) and all kinds of pastries and dried fruit for dessert. Alas, those days are long gone (but there's always dim sum!) I've pretty much given up on Jewish deli in this area.

                1. re: RWCFoodie (Karen)
                  DavidT RE: RWCFoodie (Karen) Jan 15, 2004 09:06 PM

                  Just how many years ago are you talking about? I have lived in SF since 1970, but it sounds like you are going back way past that!

                  1. re: DavidT
                    RWCFoodie (Karen) RE: DavidT Jan 17, 2004 06:42 PM

                    Well, let's just say that I remember the first TVs (we had one...) The era I'm remembering would be about 20 yrs before you got here; in other words, almost the dark ages! It was back in the time of getting dressed up to go downtown (white gloves and hats).

                    1. re: RWCFoodie (Karen)
                      gordon wing RE: RWCFoodie (Karen) Jan 18, 2004 04:35 PM

                      people still get spiffed up to go downtown.....get a new body piercing, touch up the purple dye job in their hair, make sure their pants sag enough .... etc....

                    2. re: DavidT
                      Burt RE: DavidT Jan 4, 2010 01:01 PM

                      Born and raised in SF - The last remnants of Jewish Filmore neighborhood were some used furniture stores (aka antiques) and the Ukraine bakery in the 60's. David's and Solomon's, on Geary in the theater district were not great. We recently went to the East Coast West Deli, and I really enjoyed a smoked fish plate. Unfortunately, SF hasn't had a Kosher or Kosher style deli like those I've enjoyed in New York or Detroit.

                      1. re: Burt
                        OldTimer RE: Burt Jan 4, 2010 03:50 PM

                        Frankly, I cannot recall a really good Jewish deli in SF...ever. LA, yes. David was OK when he first opened (when you stood behind the occupied stool to take the seat). Then he got stingy. Solomon's was good competition, but not first rate. I hear good things about East Coast West. I think the problem is that SF is not very demanding...Chinatown, on the other hand, you sink or swim. Mediocre will not survive (except maybe House of Nanking).

                2. j
                  jackie57 RE: Ed Oct 7, 2009 11:02 PM

                  hi, my name is deborah. i was the cook at Gilberts, for a couple of years, along with the owner, anna, who was the daughter of the founders of the deli. what happened was that the owners sold gilberts to a chinese woman named bette. she had no restaurant background, and to say the least, no people skills. it lasted maybe a year after the sale.
                  if you want some of their recipes, i think i have some saved. you can e-mail me at: shopknuckleheads@aol.com

                  1. r
                    Robert Dahl RE: Ed Jan 2, 2010 05:19 PM

                    I just looked at the Mel's Drive In menu and they show that they serve Herman's Potato Salad with their sandwiches. Does anyone know if this is true? I know Herman's has been closed for years.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Robert Dahl
                      LeftCoastRider RE: Robert Dahl Apr 6, 2010 10:01 AM

                      No, it is not the same at all. My sister and I thought that is must be the same and met there for lunch a few years ago but were very disappointed. Perhaps Mel's bought the name, but the recipe is completely different. As someone said in a post above, the closest potato salad to Herman's is the San Francisco style that you can find in Lunardi's and some Safeway stores. It is not the same - too much mayo - but it is reasonably close. Herman's also had a deli in Sunnyvale, on Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road, but it must have closed at the same time.

                    2. Robert Lauriston RE: Ed Jan 4, 2010 04:19 PM

                      Was Herman's the place that advertised "Dutch salads"?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        Cynsa RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 6, 2010 10:59 AM

                        "Herman's Delicatessen—Out there at 7th & Geary from the 1920s until the 1970s. I still remember the dark blue ceramic tiles on the lower front façade, and the deep rich smells of the meats, cheeses, salads, and the pickle barrel. There's nothing quite like it anymore."

                      2. Melanie Wong RE: Ed May 13, 2014 01:58 AM

                        Here's more about Herman's potato salad and a stab at a recipe.

                        (And it linked back to this thread)

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          Malcolm Ruthven RE: Melanie Wong May 14, 2014 07:57 AM

                          One of the comments to that article said: "San Francisco Style potato salad is available a a couple of markets in Marin County. (United Markets and Mollie Stones) ...Tastes just like Hermann’s to me!"

                          I'll see if I can find some. I do remember Hermann's and their potato salad, although I don't know that my taste memory of it is all that strong.

                          1. re: Malcolm Ruthven
                            Malcolm Ruthven RE: Malcolm Ruthven May 14, 2014 04:43 PM

                            I stopped into United Market in San Rafael today (the one at 3rd & Grand) and got pint of their "San Francisco Potato Salad - Sweet & Creamy with Carrots, Parsley, Seasonings, and Mayonnaise", $5.28/pint, from their deli case. You know, it did bring back a taste memory of the potato Salad at Herman's. It seems like the same to me. I certainly won't swear that it's the same - so much time has gone by - but I do recognize the look, texture, and flavor. Other SF old-timers, get some and see what you think.

                            Photo: http://ruthvenphotos2.com/files/IMG_1...


                            1. re: Malcolm Ruthven
                              Melanie Wong RE: Malcolm Ruthven May 14, 2014 07:53 PM

                              Thanks for the follow-up. Funny that the ingredient list doesn't include vinegar. Glad to see there are no preservatives. Even if it's not identical (I know, heresy), a good product that you enjoy is worthwhile on its own merits.

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