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New York Deli?

IS there a New York Deli in the Bay Area?

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  1. NO! I've been everywhere and none compare at all to New York. Yeah, it's pathetic. Not enough Jews! If you want deli on the West Coast you have to head down to L.A. Probably the least worst though was the East West Something Something Deli in SF. Their corned beef wasn't that bad, even though I asked for pastrami.

    1 Reply
    1. re: SamuelA.L.

      East Coast West Deli on Polk near Clay. Probably makes the most effort to duplicate New York style.


    2. There are Jewish delis that are New Yorkish, but this isn't New York, so... No. Not really.

      Try Miller's deli on Polk St.

      Also, does anybody know if Brothers Deli in Burlingame is still around?

      10 Replies
      1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

        Yeah, that was it. Miller's (Some direction: East, West?) Deli. They also had pretty decent knish.

        1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

          At last report Brothers Deli moved to Millbrae and continues on a downward slope.

              1. re: chemchef

                Pretty incongruous dish for a self-styled "Kosher-style delicatessen."

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                Can't believe you skipped over the Vietnamese noodle soups on the menu without comment. (vbg)

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Shrimp and scallop Vietnamese soup, no less.

              3. re: Melanie Wong

                Wow -- how did I miss that it moved to Millbrae? Looks like it took over the Anabelle's location (that place went bad real fast after an ownership change). Pity that it's on a downward slope, though...

                1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

                  I can't believe it either! You've been gone from the boards for way too long, but surely you've been keeping in touch with your loyal subjects in the Kingdom of Greater Millbrae. When I first heard it had moved, I wondered if this was the first step toward sinocization of the menu.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Sadly, my absence from the boards corresponds with my neglect of Greater Millbrae. Both will be remedied soon! Sinocization? What's not Jewish about shrimp and scallop Vietnamese soup???

            1. whatever you do, don't try Moishe's Pipic. You will be very disappointed. Miller's East West if th closest we get here...

              5 Replies
              1. re: sfoperalover

                Moishe's does not hold itself out as a NY style deli, but rather as a Chicago style deli.

                1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

                  But it isn't a good Chicago-style deli either. In fact, based on my last trip back to Chicago, there aren't many good Chicago-style delis in Chicago.

                  1. re: mc2

                    Not to split hairs, but the title of the thread is "New York Deli?". I was just pointing out that the reference to Moishe's (a Chicago style deli, regardless of merit) was not really in context. Besides, Moishe's does a pretty mean (though overpriced) Chicago dog.

                    1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

                      The definition of New York Deli is basically a real Jewish deli.I've never heard of a Chicago style Jewish Deli. Mind explaining? Just curious, maybe I'll try it .

                      1. re: SamuelA.L.

                        I don't know that either a NY or Chicago deli must be strictly Jewish --at least the presence of Italian Beef in the latter would seem to disprove the theory. Also, regional differences in ethnic cuisines have historically arisen from the availability of ingredients -- Jewish recipes differ from place to place the same way Italian recipes do. Honestly, I have no idea whether there's that much of a difference --- I was just pointing out that Moishe's doesn't claim to be NY style!

                1. re: rworange

                  I believe this place has closed or at least it was when i went by there recently.
                  Could it be only temporary???

                  1. re: MSK

                    Gosh, I was there last month for a bagel fix. I hope not. It has never been really busy, but I usually make it there just before closing.

                    1. re: rworange

                      I'm sorry.......I was wrong.

                      I just dialed them and they answered. Maybe the day of my visit in January was a Jewish holiday I was unaware of.

                      1. re: MSK

                        Thanks !!! Maybe I'll check them out for beet horseradish this year.

                2. I mentioned Moishe's because this is the logical progression for all who seek NY style deli and don't find it. Someone mentions Moishe's, and you go, excited that perhaps Chicago will do you right. You leave profoundly disappointed. And, if you seek NY Deli, even the best Chicao style hot dog won't cheer you up - in fact, it will further dampen your spirits because it's such a far departure from a NY style dog.

                  1. I went to the NYTTB in San Rafael soon after it opened. Although the food was good, three things turned me off. First, matzoh ball soup in a paper bowl. Second, when I asked for pickled green tomato I was given one half of one. Third, the meat ingredients for my sandwich were carefully weighed out on a scale before the sandwich was assembled. It may have been close attention to costs during the opening but it struck me as too clinical and calculating for me to enjoy my lunch. Maybe since then they have lightened up and it seems more welcoming. RW, any insights?

                    1. Hard to say. They passed the decent bagel test but while I bought pastrami I never brought a sandwich. For me a lot is about the bread ... and the pickle. That being said, this is more like the corner deli than one of the name NY Delis.

                      1. What about Saul's? Its always packed, and while I myself have never been, I hear good things about it.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: chemchef

                          Saul's doesn't claim to be NY. In fact there's a whole article about them re-inventing the deli to cater to local tastes. That being said, some things they do are outstanding ... horseradish, herring in sour cream (NOT the wine herring, tho), Acme Friday sliced European rye, pastrami (ok, not as good as NY, but in my tasting the best in this area) ... but some things are horrid ... horrid, horrid, horrid. They can really screw up potato pancakes.

                          1. re: rworange

                            Thanks, I've been wondering about it.

                            Too bad about the potato pancakes...

                        2. The California Street Deli in the JCC was really good when it first opened. I haven't been back in a while and more recent reports are not so hot.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Grubbjunkie

                            When it first opened it was probably the second best to Miller's. But now it's horrible. Once they took knish off the menu and downsized the portions for the already absolutely outrageous prices was when they went downhill. The quality of the food has also dropped. The only thing good I had there were the pickles.
                            And on the topic of Saul's, rworange is right. They are mixing California tastes with jewish deli. They don't even serve you real bagels there.

                            1. re: Grubbjunkie

                              I had a disappointing lunch at JCC --- burnt latkes, dry pastrami, flavorless corned beef. But there's been a recent report from Chow Fun of success at dinner time with some traditional recipes, so maybe worth looking into.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Is California Street Deli still open? I thought I heard they closed.

                                1. re: katya

                                  It closed several months ago.

                            2. How about House of Bagels on Geary in the Richmond?

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Thanks for the link. I'm no connoisseur in NY style delis, but this interesting to keep in mind.

                              1. You know, I do like Tommy's because you get jus with the pastrami, and since I don't usually love the hand carved (the fat starts to bother me on the pastrami), having the option of a pastrami dip for some reason is great. A different way to experience it from the orthodox.

                                1. I'm still surprised some NY transplant hasn't decided "screw this, I'm going to make a real, non-half-assed attempt to recreate the NY deli here". It can't be that hard to source the ingredients (especially if they're doing it in L.A.) and they'd surely command an instant following if they did it right, having no competition and all.

                                  I thought "SF NY Deli" in the Embarcadero Center was that place. I can't judge personally since I haven't tried it yet.

                                  I find Saul's in Berkeley a decent substitute. Even if it may not taste exactly like the NY equivalent, it's one of the few places that even MAKES a piled-high corned beef/pastrami on rye with a pickle...good enough for those times I want to relive my NY days...

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Agent 510

                                    East Coast West intends to be the real thing.

                                    SF New York Deli's not great. They're more focused on being kosher.


                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      So are we saying that New York Deli is synonymous with Jewish deli? I have frequently thought of Italian delis as setting the standard. Frankly, these are just two different types of delis, both of which I greatly appreciate, but it seems like this post should be in search of great Jewish delis as both Italian, Jewish and other good delis must exist in NY.

                                      1. re: poulet_roti

                                        We've got some excellent Italian delis in the Bay Area.

                                        When people here complain that we don't have any good New York delis, they're talking about the Jewish kind.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          Well, yeah ... but even the Italian delis aren't as good as those on the East Coast, IMO.

                                          There's always NY By the Bay deli in Marin. Probably as good as the average NY deli and not the cream of the crop. Add stopping by Mollie Stone's for pieces of deli food. They carry Acme herring and whitefish salad and a few other good products that are escaping me now.

                                    2. re: Agent 510

                                      Max's Opera Cafe does piled high corned beef/pastrami/etc. I haven't been. Lots and lots of NY delis in NY are quite mediocre, except for the fact that they can be exactly what you want or are accustomed to.

                                    3. The NY Deli in SF

                                      “poulet roti’ wrote: “You know, I'm so tired of this NY Deli thing - I have travelled to NY (Manhattan and Brooklyn) more than 50 or 60 times, and most of the delis I saw were the cheap delis consisting of pre-sliced Boars Head deli meats and cheeses served on some marginal breads loaded with mayonaisse and mustard. Okay, so they have some chicken parm and other things which we cannot readily find on the west coast which does not bother me in the least. I think the "fantasy" of the NY deli is far greater than the reality of the NY deli, both on the east coast and west coast. In fact, I would venture to say that there are few good delis on either coast that meet the standards of what many fantasize about as being a good deli...care to challenge this notion?”

                                      Can't disagree with you. There are only a dozen or so delis in Manhattan and the Boroughs that are good enough to be talked about repeatedly . . . or make that 11 since Second Avenue closed though it may reopen in a new location. Here's an opinion from one New Yorker,

                                      So, yes, it unfair to complain that our versions of X don't match up to NY standards, since 99% of what's found in NY doesn't hit that height either. However, recognizing that is no reason to lower our standards locally. If something can't come somewhere close to the best in NY, then it's not worth eating or recommending. Unfortunately, there's not the market here it seems to support good deli. There's barely enough in NY, so many have closed.

                                      16 Replies
                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        I think this is exactly true, but I think the way to go about this food item for the bay area would be to at least determine what the components of the mythical NY deli are, and then where to go for those components if you have to get them separately? It should be another thread, or here, if people can decide what they mean/want from this "deli."

                                        I would say:

                                        Pastrami (real stuff)
                                        Corned Beef
                                        Reuben sandwiches
                                        Smoked fish
                                        Dr. Browns
                                        Matzo Ball soup

                                        What else?

                                        A bakery next door with good rugelach and coffee cake.

                                        1. re: P. Punko

                                          Oh and:
                                          Pickled tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers
                                          Pumpernickel, rye and onion rolls
                                          Chopped liver
                                          Non-mayonnaise cole slaw

                                          These are things I always lament when I go to Max's "Diner", nay, any "deli" here-- sigh...never should compare these items to those of Wolfie's Rascal House in Florida of yesteryear...but I was spoiled at a young age by annual trips to see Grandma in Ft. Lauderdale...it's a blessing and a curse...

                                          When someone mentions NY deli, I always assume they mean "Jewish" deli, not any other kind.

                                          1. re: melisky

                                            I don't think there's any confusion about that. The menus at Brothers and East Coast West are what people mean by New York-style deli, even though in New York there are also Italian, Polish, and Greek delis, and probably others as well.

                                            Bagels aren't so great in New York any more either, and at most places if you order lox they give you nova, and if you complain and say you ordered lox, they either don't know what you're talking about or if they do they don't have any.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              For those that don't know the distinction between Nova and lox:

                                              From http://www.samcooks.com/flavor/smoked...

                                              " Zabar’s, New York’s (and by extension, America’s) smoked fish mecca, gets the bulk of its salmon from old-fashioned Brooklyn producers like Marshall. Brooklyn has been a hub for smoked (or more accurately, cured) salmon production since the early part of the century. Barrels of salted Pacific salmon came east from the west coast. After 90 days, the salmon was soaked in water to remove much of the salt. This is lox, from the Scandinavian lax and the German lachs, words for salmon.

                                              A more common method is to wet cure the fish in a brine of water, salt and brown sugar. After the fish is dried, it is smoked at 76 degrees for about 12 hours, using apple wood and cherry wood shavings. This is what most people refer to as Nova. The name comes from wild Nova Scotia Atlantic salmon, which were common before that species was fished out years ago. Nova has a less salty, more refined taste than lox."

                                              1. re: P. Punko

                                                Did you mean that real lox isn't actually smoked at all?

                                                1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                  gravlax is a straight cure, and can be much saltier than Nova. I like Nova on a bagel, gravlax with crostini or little toasts. Actually, I like pretty much most smoked or cured salmon.

                                        2. re: Melanie Wong

                                          I do agree. But it's the fact that there are some good delis to be found in NY. After all, you don't see any good delis at all out here. I mean, I've eaten better Jewish deli in Houston.

                                          1. re: SamuelA.L.

                                            I'd be happy even with a chain like Jimmy Johns in SF.

                                            1. re: SamuelA.L.

                                              I think you mean to say there are no good Jewish delis out here. There are several good delis on the west coast, mainly Italian.

                                              1. re: SamuelA.L.

                                                As in NY, delis have different strengths. Per P. Punko's suggestion above, it would be easier to address this if you'd talk about what you consider "good", as everyone's idea of that is different. For example, Second Avenue Deli in NY had lousy pastrami, but was held up for the quality of the corned beef and the matzoh ball soup. If one only wanted pastrami and not corned beef, it would be a "bad" kosher deli. Fwiw, I though the matzoh ball soup was horrible with closer kinship to a chemical plant than a chicken.

                                                I think there are pockets of strength to be found out here if you pay attention. Here's a post recommending the stuffed cabbage and matzoh ball soup at JCC at dinner time.
                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/372426 I think that David's Old World pastrami is far better than Carnegie Deli's, but not as good as Katz's or Langer's but those are very high standards to reach. And, Alexander Valley pickles are very good, I like them as much as any on the Lower East Side.

                                                P.S. to poulet roti - I was in the middle on replying to your topic on NY deli when it was removed. So, I pulled the text from cache and pasted it into my post above. Didn't have an email address to tell you this offline.

                                                1. re: Melanie Wong


                                                  You have confirmed something that I thought- I thought the 2nd ave. deli pastrami WAS bland and boring.

                                                  As for pastrami, where is the absolute best (by your criteria) around here?

                                                  For reference where my pastrami taste buds come from, and for people to understand what some of the differences are, so we can try not to talk past each other:

                                                  I have several levels- I like the extra salty stuff that you find at greek/turkish sub/pizza places on the East Coast for what it gets used for, a guilty greasy delight with mustard and pickles on a sub roll. For the real deal I like pastrami with a visible, gritty rub, where you can taste the coriander, and mustard and pepper notes, where there is some smokiness, and some fat, not too much, sliced thin and CLEARLY from a brisket (not weird, large Boar's Head style, that tastes nothing like pastrami). For reference I would say that Katz's is a little smokier than Carnegie Deli, but I'm not a huge fan of the thick, hand-carved style (which you can get at Tommy's Joynt, etc.), where Carnegie Deli has much stronger coriander flavor, which means it doesn't really mesh as well with mustard for me (they kind of get at the same flavors, as opposed to a contrast). Given these thoughts, what do you like around here, and where would you put it in regards to some of these others (taste wise, so people can understand some of the references if they haven't been to all the famous NY delis).

                                                  1. re: P. Punko

                                                    Haven't figured out where besides Dean and Deluca and Bi-Rite will put this on a sandwich for you, but I like David's Old World pastrami. I used dry heat to warm it up, I'm sure it would be even better steamed.
                                                    Let me add the caveat that I haven't tried Niman's navel cut at Saul's yet. I have had Niman's regular grade a couple times and it didn't suit me. I used to like Brothers but the last two owners of the place don't seem to care about pastrami.

                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                      Let me add (I hope I don't get modded), but my fave deli in Ann Arbor, MI (NOT Zingerman's) would griddle-steam the pastrami to warm it up- they threw one sandwiches worth in a hot pan with half a cup of water and covered the small portion with the lid of a smaller pot- works great, super fast, doesn't get waterlogged.

                                                      1. re: P. Punko

                                                        Have you tried Memphis Minnie's pastrami (Wed. only)? It's very smoky. I need to get over there to try it again sans barbecue sauce.

                                                        P.S. Did I miss your Vallejo ribs report?

                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                          Ribs report on deck, I am still looking for the right words to describe how smoky they were.

                                                          I just found a mention of the Memphis Minnies. When BBQ places make a pastrami, it sounds like what my friend called a brined brisket with pastrami rub, which is basically pastrami, but not (maybe it is the length of the brining- it is not a true corning of the brisket). He passed me a recipe described as a super smokey brisket with a pickly brine and spicy rub as in between pastrami and "Montreal Smoked Meat" (which I have never had) but is actually amazing. I am intrigued. Reports on Memphis Minnies are all over the place as it sounds like a normal BBQ joint (you got to get them on the right day).

                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                            Not to take this off track, but if you like smokey pastrami, I have seen it on occasion at Delissio at Falletti Foods. Good, but too smokey in my opinion.

                                              2. I'm still hankering for a Tomato, Herring and Onion Sandwich, a la Manhattan, 1960.

                                                1. I was born in LA and lived there until I was 19, Then I moved to NYC for 14 years. and then back to the Bay Area. The corn rye in NY is just not as good as LA, it's too soft. I like Katz's but with all the non-Jewish slicers the slicing now stinks and I've moved on to Fine and Shapiro on the Upper West Side. With these credentials I have to say I don't think Sauls in Berkeley is all that bad.

                                                  1. I grew up in nyc and returned 3 yrs ago for work, (came back to BA soonest!) the really great jewish delis are now few. For me the real test is white fish salad, pickles and pastrami that tastes the stuff like Mom and Dad would bring home from the Tip Toe Inn