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Just moved- need some reccs

Just moved to the Bay Area from New England and going through some food shock.

I live in Alameda and work in the Castro.
Have access to a car, and can get around the Bay Area.

I need some suggestions for:

1. A deli. A real one. Not someplace where my pickle is floppy and my reuben has the "option" of kraut.

2. Do fried clams exist in this area?

3. Cuban, Dominican and Russian food? Obviously not all in the same place. As cool as that concept would be...

4. Any and all suggestions for learning Northern California cuisine. Especially the seafood. Where do we go to get things from the sea?

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  1. You work in the Castro? Go to Woodhouse Fish Company at Church & Market for fried clams and other seafood. They also have some really good lunch specials.

    1. "Real" deli, Cuban, and Dominican are among the top 10 on the Bay Area food wish list.

      Fried clams and other East Coast seafood, Woodhouse in SF.

      Cal-style seafood, Sea Salt in Berkeley, Hayes St. Grill in San Francisco.

      Many of the best places to get seafood around here are Chinese and Vietnamese. In downtown Oakland, not far from the Alameda tube, Legendary Palace, Binh Minh Quan, Spices!3.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        You don't have to go through the tube: if you're on the Alameda side you can go to East Ocean or Chef's Wok for your Chinese seafood fix. A woman was raving to me last week about the S&P fish at East Ocean -- said she loves it and she usually doesn't like fish unless it's slathered with tarter sauce.

        Our local Dungeness crab season is going to start in about a month. Other local seafood (different ocean, different sea creatures) include various flat fish (halibut, Petrale sole, sand dabs) and locally farmed oysters.

      2. There's a Cuban place in Hayes Valley (SF) called Laurel's - pretty good.

        Russian - SF has been a center of Russian emigres for almost a century. Cinderella Bakery & Cafe, Katia's, and numerous Russian/Eastern European stores with foodstuffs and prepared foods to go, all mostly in the Richmond District in SF. There are some extensive threads on reviews of those places on this board.

        1. And as you're in Alemeda you might want to check out Speisekammer: http://www.speisekammer.com/

          1 Reply
          1. re: Calvinist

            Speisekammer's my favorite German place in the Bay Area. Worth a trip to Alameda.

            C'Era Una Volta is good Italian.

            Lots of reports on both, use the search.

          2. I think this thread on Cubano sandwiches lists all the local Cuban/Cubanish places:


            1. Connecticut/Massachusetts (Boston/Rockport) native here.

              I like Woodhouse Clams which is convenient to your work location. However, it is worth a drive to Redwood City to Old Port Lobster Shack which has the better fried clam, but both are good. Search on the name or OPLS for lots of reports. Woodhouse has the better clam chowder.

              As far as California fish experience - Fish in Saualito. It is California fish in a setting on the bay like a NE clam shack. Pricy for casual but top class.

              Take a drive down to Half Moon Bay for more seafood and lots of California food experience. There's a new joint opening Friday on the coast that is supposed to serve New England Chowder. It is called Sam's Chowder House and is owned by Cetrella which would give you the California cuisine fix.

              Even though it is not traditional NE chowder, try the clam chowder at Sea Salt.

              Russian in SF is mainly on Geary and mainly only ok. Here's a thread:
              The best of the lot is New World and Gastronom, deli-wise. I hear Russian Renaissance Restaurant has new owners and is better, but haven't been.

              There's a Eastern European deli on Piedmont in Oakland. The best of Russian is Crixa Bakery in Berkeley. Top quality Eastern European baked goods in a class by itself ... and that means anywhere in the US.

              If you go to OPLS in Redwood City as long as you are on that side of the Bay you might check out Russian Family Bistro and Bakery.

              Seems like Marin might be the best option for Pastrami and pickles. High to try on my list are David's pastrami and Alexander Valley pickle at Scotty' Market in San Rafael. Also looking forward to trying Hillary's.

              Marin is also the hotbed of Puerto Rican/Cuban food with Mambo's Cafe and Sol Food. I like Mambo's better but they are brand new and from other reports the food is uneven. Elsewhere on the web someone tried their Cuban sandwich not on the menu yet. They picture and the report didn't inspire me to order it at this point.

              You are lucky as some New England fish places opened this year. When I moved here there was nothing except Howard Johnsons clam roll. It took me a few years to come to peace with California seafood. Salmon is good and, as I recently discovered, BBQ'd oysters. IMO, dungeness crab is kind of watery and is best in Cioppino, the best of which I've tried to date is at Tadich in SF.

              The best way to know and love California cuisine is through the markets and farmers markets. You must go to Berkeley Bowl. Farmer Market-wise there is first and formost Ferry Plaza on Saturday in SF. Also good are the Saturday Berkeley Market, the Sunday Marin Market, Santurday Alameda in SF, Friday Oakland, Sunday Temescal in Oakland (or is that Berkeley?). Here's Farmer market info.

              Also a stop at the gourmet ghetto in berkeley is in order with Cheeseboard pizza, the wonderful cheeseshop (get the cheeserolls), Peets, Chez Panisse, Masse's, etc ... uh, skip Saul's deli. The pastrami is good for California, but not East Coast good. Except for a few other items the food ain't that good at Saul's.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rworange

                The Russsian deli on Piedmont is Euromix--smaller than some of the ones in SF but excellent stuff and nice people:


                Puerto Rican in the East Bay, Sofrito in Oakland:


              2. No sightings thus far for Cuban-Russian, but here's a recent post on Russian Thai in the Financial District.

                1. A BIG thank you for directing me to Woodhouse in the Castro.
                  I hopped over on my lunch break and was nothing short of thrilled.
                  I declared to the nice fellows that I was a North Shore Massachusets transplant, and painfully homesick.
                  A moment later, a HEAPING plate of fried to perfection Ipswich clam was placed in front of me, sided with a bowl of thick and delicious clam chowder. What a lunch!
                  The friend clams were big bellied and true to Ipswich nature- I was in heaven.
                  The chowder was fantastic- my only nitpick would be that the potato was sliced, not cubed. But it was fantastic, it was thick, and there wasn't a bacon or celery in sight- hooray!

                  The guys at Woodhouse tell me that they do steamers on the weekends, and I will most certainly be back for that!

                  Thanks for the tip everyone- I'm happy and satisfied, and now know how to cure my homesickness for less than $20!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: northofboston

                    Thanks for reporting back. Good to hear more feedback from an east coast native. As I said, their other $9 lunch specials are a great deal.

                  2. Your description of Woodhouse made me, once again, horribly depressed about my allergy to clams! :(

                    Deli--it's out of your way, but East Coast West delicatessen on Polk Street (somewhere around Washington, I think?) is a real new York-style deli.

                    And my favorite recommendation for seafood is always the Swan Oyster Depot. Again, off your path--Polk and California--but the line out the door's a testament to the freshness and great atmosphere of the place. Plus you can just buy your seafood and go, if you like.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: MuppetGrrl

                      There are lots of reports here about East Coast West, seems like most New Yorkers are still looking:


                      Other current contenders for closest-thing-to-real-NY-deli are California Street Deli in the Jewish Community Center and House of Bagels on Geary (not the other branches).

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I've only eaten at ECW once. The bagels and lox were good, but overpriced. (And I had just moved from NYC, so I know from overpriced.) But I've heard other good reviews, so I couldn't say either way. Glad to see more info on it.

                        Great to hear the JCC's got it going.