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Feb 4, 2008 10:01 AM

SF: Europa Express 2 Russian market at Ocean Beach – 14 fetas, 7 red caviars, house-baked breads, pickle buckets and, uh, dried fish

This elusive Russian market is a half block away from Safeway at Ocean beach. The owner of Europa Express on Irving is a part owner.

However, the excellent Irving Street market acknowledges the neighborhood where it is located. It appeals to Americans and Russians.

The market near the beach is all Russian, maybe the most Russian market I’ve been to in the Bay Area. There is no deli counter, but a long refrigerated case along one aisle carries packaged dairy and deli products.

There are big open white plastic buckets with pickles, apples and tomatoes that can be plucked out with tongs.

Clear plastic deli containers had seven different types of red caviar. There were lots of Russian salads like oliver, vinegret, beet, marinated mushrooms and salat shuba (herring salad)

The one odd thing was the two containers of what I assume were Asian salads … one seaweed salad and one teriyaki squid … I have no clue why. I didn’t see another thing that wasn’t hard-core Russian food in there.

They have a number types of farmer’s cheese … the real kind … if you are Eastern European, you know what I mean. There were jars of red and white horseradish from Russia.

House-baked bread is a tiny stretch. The bread is baked at the Irving Street location. These are great, hearty Russian breads, maybe the best in the Bay Area, but I haven’t tried enough of them yet.

They also have a lot of breads and baked goods from Brooklyn including some nice-looking poppy seed breads.

There’s the usual refrigerated case of cryovacked sausages and meats.

There are lots of wrapped candies and chocolate bars. I guess even the Russians are into premium single-origin chocolate. There were these bars totally in Russian except for things like 80% and various names of countries that produced the chocolate.

The fresh produce has the names of the veggies in Russian. There’s a small liquor section and various groceries … there’s a really large selection of canned sprats.

Then there is the fish case. Tubs and packages of all sorts of pickled, smoked and preserved fish … and large open boxes dried fish … the entire back section has the aroma of eau de seafood … you have been warned.

Google map of SF Bay Area Eastern European Food

Europa Express 2
728 La Playa St, San Francisco, CA

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  1. I love those Eastern European markets. Could you clarify, though, when you said "The market on Irving is all Russian, maybe the most Russian market I’ve been to in the Bay Area" did you mean the one you were talking about near Ocean Beach, or did you actually mean the one on Irving?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Must have sneaked back and edited. My version says "The market near the beach is all Russian, maybe the most Russian market I’ve been to in the Bay Area."

      1. re: wolfe

        Yes, I caught that, thanks.

        A lot of the Russian markets on or near Geary seem dusty. This just seems like an old-fashioned market. I was the only one in there not speaking Russian. I'm surprised there is this little Russian section in back of the condos. There's even a Russian video store a few doors down.

        Parking was easy too ... and there's always the nearby Safeway lot.

    2. Why "elusive?" Does it not keep regular hours?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Xiao Yang

        For me ... I've had this on my list to try for a while ... I just don't get down to that area often these days. It is in an odd location away from the usual Russian store strip around Geary, on a street that is not on any main route ... a tiny corridor just off the Great Highway at the very end of Balboa. There wasn't much (if any) info about it on the web either.

        It's a few doors down from Freddy's Deli if that is a better marker for people.

      2. WOW pickle barrels! Thanks so much for finding this...I'll get over there today and stock up!

        and for those unaware of Europa Express on Irving (near Andonico's) here's their website....scroll down for English....

        3 Replies
        1. re: ChowFun_derek

          Buckets ... white plastic buckets.

          Given the connection to the Irving Street store, I would guess that they might be the same as those sold in the trays in the deli case at that location.

          I was sorry I had other plans though and wasn't going right home otherwise I would have bought a few.

          Some day I'd like to do a comparison of both places on the same day. I think the location on La Playa has some stuff the Irving Street store doesnt ... well, I know Irving Europa Express doesn't have those dried fish ... and I don't think they had quite the selection of feta or farmers cheese.

          If you haven't tried the bread Europa Express bakes, give it a try. I think you'll really like it.

          1. re: rworange

            Did you say they are freshly baked only at the Irving st. location?! Then I too will have to hit both of them in one day!!

            1. re: ChowFun_derek

              Yep. The kitchen is at the Irving St location. The breads at Irving St are in a straw basket between the deli cases. At the Ocean beach location they are near the register.