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Jun 7, 2007 09:01 PM

Jewish food in the Bay Area?

This seems to be one of the more under-respresented cuisines around here. Saul's in Berkeley was our go to, but recently the reports have not been good from there (management turnover or something). Any other ideas on where to get dill pickles, brisket, pastrami, corned beef on rye, latkes, matzo brei, and so on?

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  1. In the words of the immortal and paradoxically soon to be dead T Soprano "Fa getta bout it".

    1 Reply
    1. re: wolverine61

      It certainly isn't readily available. I've been very happy with the fish platters at Miller's East Coast West on Polk, but haven't tried the other food in quite a while.

    2. I agree you aren't going to find NY great deli, but there are decent places for Jewish food:
      -Cinderella Bakery on Balboa makes old-fashioned Eastern-European soups (mushroom barley, cabbage borsht), cheese dumplings, and hamantashen
      -Nearby Old World Market on Geary for pickles and smoked fish
      -Holy Land on College in Berkeley has delicious falafel and Middle-Eastern salads (get the sample plate with eggplant)
      -Firefly Restaurant in Noe Valley always has a few updates to Brad's grandma's recipes, and special menus for passover, new year, and hannukah. I think the matzo ball soup and potato pancakes are always on the menu.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Windy

        Thanks, I'm not really looking for a NY deli place, I know those don't exist here (that's why they're called NY delis). I'll check out the bakery and Holy Land (we prefer the Sephardic foods), have already been to Old World Market and that is a great store for ingredients too. I looked at Firefly's website and their menu didn't seem to have any Jewish influence.

        1. re: sgwood415

          Firefly only has Jewish dishes on its menu during some Jewish holidays -- High Holy Days, Hanukkah, Passover. That's when you see things like brisket, latkes and kasha varnishkas on the menu.

      2. Concur w/ others on Holy Land. The combo salad is great! Perhaps not what you'd consider "Jewish food," but Raphael in Berkeley is one of the few Kosher restaurants in the area.

        6 Replies
        1. re: lexdevil

          Less concerned about Kosher, it's more about the ingredients and the preparation for us. Jewish food is as broad as say Italian food. The obvious/cliche is the NY Deli, which is like thinking of pasta when you think Italian. I'd break it out like this for us:

          Deli Style - more of a NY Jewish style, dill pickles, sandwhiches, etc.
          Sephardic - middle eastern, b'stilla, meat pies, cous cous dishes,
          European - borschts, roasts, potato dishes, etc.

          1. re: sgwood415

            For what you're describing as Sephardic, you might drop the Jewish requirement then.

            There are plenty of good options for Moroccan/Lebanese/Turkish food from the spinach pies at Rihab's Bakery to the bastilla and couscous at Tajine.

            1. re: Windy

              Yeah, I'm confused about what you are looking for. In your OP you ask for what you are defining as deli but then you say what you want is sephardi. For deli style Mollie Stone is a good source for staples.

            2. re: sgwood415

              Your Saul's post led us astray. With the list you provided, I'd head to Aziza to fill the need for Sephardic food, and there's a kabob place on Burlingame Ave, next to Crepevine, that does some nice salads that will remind you of Israeli food. I've never tried their falafel, not being much of a fan. But in SF and environs, you're best off heading to restaurants that specialize in the areas of the world your desired Jewish food comes from. I would love it if Joyce Goldstein or someone like her would open an International Jewish restaurant, but that hasn't happened yet.

              1. re: bernalgirl

                Well, started with Saul's and this is where the thread led. JG should open a place! I have Saffron Shores and it's one of my favorite cookbooks. Aziza sounds like a great choice.

                1. re: sgwood415

                  Yes, Aziza is deffinitely the best restaurant in town for a somewhat close approximation to Sephardic cooking. Without question.

          2. Cafe Sophia at the bottom of Solano in Albany might have some of what you're looking for. Small place, small menu, but pretty good.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Glencora

              I'm slightly confused by the description of what sgwood is actually looking for, but agree w/ Glencora on Sophia for Sephardic food. They do standard meza plates (grilled eggplant, hummus, tahini and baba ganoush), great falafal, and a few schawarmas and kabobs. Oh, and their baked goods and zhoug are delicious.

            2. I know it isn't traditional Jewish food, but have you tried Moishes Pippic on Hayes Street? They have a fabulous beef brisket on Fridays (sometimes they have some left over on Saturday, which is even better a day later) and a "New Yorker" sandwich to die for. The New Yorker has pastrami, corned beef, cole slaw, and thousand island dressing. It is served on great rye bread. Abel and Joe always take great care of their customers. I don't particularly care for their macaroni or potato salads, but they have great homemade Matzo ball soup.