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Rye Bread in San Francisco

I have what appears to be really great pastrami and sauerkraut in my fridge (thanks kmanlove!)

But alas, no rye bread. Where can I get great rye in San Francisco?

I read on other posts about Anna's. Face validity: I don't trust any rye that has a name other than "the rye you get at XXX bakery"

Here's what I'm looking for (caveat: I've never described rye bread before so it might be a little touch and go)

- not a dark rye
- crunchy crust BUT also soft crumb
- reminds you of being at home in New York where you don't have to seek out a bakery with rye bread
- you wouldn't be ashamed to feed it to some Ashkenazi grandma with a touch of schmaltz

Kmanlove, have any additions to our description?

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  1. Something that resembles the Rye at Langers in LA would be perfect!

    1. The closest I've come to the rye I remember is from TJ's. Unfortunately it's sliced and can't be rewarmed to get the nice crust. It does make nice toast with peanut butter.
      From the Chow Digest.

      2 Replies
      1. re: wolfe

        Wolfe, you have chow hound searching skills that exceed mine. Why did I not get this when I searched for rye bread on the SF board?

        1. re: SarahKC

          I left the reservation and was searching for the source of TJ's rye when the key words were found in that digest post. Luck and copious free time win again.

      2. Metropolis Baking Co.'s New York Style Rye is the best I've had since I left Brooklyn. It has both caraway and 'black cumin' which is nigella or sometimes called onion seeds. The textures are good; substantial crust and a moist-but-not-soggy interior. Their web site http://www.metropolisbaking.com/ includes a list of retail outlets in S.F. as well as elsewhere in the Bay Area.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Miss Otis

          I concur on Metropolis' Rye. Other than my homemade, it's the best rye I've had in the Biggety Biggety Bay. adam

        2. I like the corn rye from Acme. I don't think I've seen it except at the bakery and they only make it on a certain day of the week. Or maybe they stopped making it.

          1. Haven't had it recently, but the Max's restaurants used to serve sandwiches on (and sell loaves of) rye that was the closest to Langer's I've seen. Crunchy crust, soft inside.

            As an aside, ISTR that the Langer's bread comes from some bakery on Robertson in L.A.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Steve Green

              Mollie Stone's in San Bruno sells Max's rye bread. It's my favorite SF Bay Area rye bread. Perhaps one of the Mollie Stone's in SF can order it for you. I also like the Acme rye bread -- Mollie Stone's Tower Market in SF carries it.

              1. re: Steve Green

                About 10-15 yrs ago I had a sandwich on rye at Max's in Stanford Shopping Center. The rye was as Steve Green describes -- crunchy crust, soft inside. It was good enough that I asked if they sold loaves of the bread and was told yes, for $6.00 a loaf. It was too rich for my blood but it was definitely great bread.

                Hopefully, they still make it the same way.

                1. re: fishhead

                  Now that I think about it, it might have been as long as 10 or 15 years ago. This was at Max's Diner on 3rd, and I think the loaf cost $4, but was almost a double-sized loaf. We ate a lot of sandwiches that week.

              2. I'm not much of a rye bread eater, but the dark rye from Cinderella bakery (and also sold at Russian stores on Geary) would probably satisfy a Jewish grandma. Especially if you eat it with their borscht or cabbage soup.

                I also like the crusty Odessa rye from Semifreddi's.

                If anyone finds a real Pumpernickel, let me know.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Windy

                  Pure Grain makes great pumpernickel. You can get it at Lehr's or Rainbow.

                  Rainbow Grocery
                  1745 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                  Pure Grain Bakery
                  600 Eubanks Ct Suite A, Vacaville, CA

                  Lehr's German Specialties
                  1581 Church St, San Francisco, CA

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    This what you said according to the digest linked above.
                    Robert Lauriston says Acme Bread makes a great rye once a week–though others find it too artisanal and dense to make a good pastrami sandwich. He also recommends great rye bread at Bennett Valley Bread & Pastry, and at Pure Grain Bakery, which makes the bread served at Speisekammer.

                    1. re: wolfe

                      Bennett Valley makes a bread they call pumpernickel, but it's a very different style from Pure Grain's. I'm not sure any of their ryes match SarahKC's description. The rye breads tend to sell out early.

                      I don't think Speisekammer buys Pure Grain any more, though that is where I first heard of it.

                  2. re: Windy

                    I second the Odessa rye. Quite nice. Especially if you don't like seeds in it---I think Metropolis's NY has what my grandfather, a Jewish baker and once a baker for the Tsar's cavalry, called chenishkes, little oniony bits.

                    If fresh, the crust is indeed crusty and the crumb moist. It keeps well, too if you have a paper bag inside a bread box, something every bread-lover should own. I got mine on eBay. It's from the 1940s or 50s.

                    1. re: rccola

                      Chenishkes, eh? That's exactly what I'm seeking, with the understanding it may not exist any more. The pumpernickel bagels I loved as a little girl in NY had onion-y bits, I think. Kossar's bialys and bagels come close, but not quite.

                      Will definitely check out Lehr's for Pure Grain pumpenickel. I tend to forget about it even though I live around the corner.

                      1. re: Windy

                        I missed the "r": chernishkes. Found one reference to them online: chernishke, also called black caraway seed, or kolonji. Looking under kolonji I found it spelled as charnishke: Charnushka Nigella Sativa

                        Charnushka is used in traditional Lebanese,Indian, Serbian, and Armenian cuisines.

                        Also known as Black Caraway seed, this flavorful small black seed is often used in Jewish rye bread, flatbreads and savory pastries. It is also mixed with other seeds, such as mustard, cumin, fennel and fenugreek to make up a blend know as panch phoron which is used in Benal cooking for beans and vegetables dishes. Known as black onion seed or Kolonji in India, this seed is an ingredient in many curry and garam masala recipes.

                        Hell, I've used black onion seed in Indian recipes dozens of times and didn't even realize I was using my grandfather's beloved cherniskes.

                        1. re: rccola

                          Bottom line: if a bread is sliced and wrapped in plastic, it's never going to taste like real jewish rye.

                  3. House of Bagels on Geary and 15th use to sell some pretty good rye bread but it might be dark. I can't remember but it was very good and I'm not generally a dark bread fan. It could have been lighter, I just don't remember.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ML8000

                      It's light, but they now use too much yeast, so it rises too fast and gets balloon-like with a very light puffy texture. It's sad, because it used to be good.

                    2. As far as I'm concerned, I have yet to find any Jewish breads that are remotely like what I knew in Brooklyn or Manhattan....not even the ones mentioned here...no shiny egg wash, no moist crumb....not rye, or pumpernickel, or Jewish Corn bread...and if you prefer yours seedless, forget it! I'm very sorry (really, am I sorry!!!)
                      However...Italian/French...yes, some wonderful ones here in the Bay Area...we fall flat on Jewish, Greek, Russian/Polish...(great Asian though). I'm going to Chicago this week, so I'm hoping to fill my Greek and Polish needs, and try REAL Chicago pizza, to see whether Little Star competes...in 2 weeks I'm off to N.Y., so breads, Southern Italian/American food and baked goods, pizza..I'll definitely be carbo loading....!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ChowFun_derek

                        The question is whether they still exist in NY anymore either. Looking forward to your findings.

                        1. re: ChowFun_derek

                          Delikateski has rye bread. Whether it's good I don't know.

                          1984 Monument Blvd, Concord, CA

                        2. I got so fed up with local rye bread, I make it myself. 3 cups bread flour, 1 cup dark rye flour, 2 tablspoon carroway seeds, 2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp yeast, 1 1/2 cups water (2 tsp onion flakes if desired). I use a bread machine to make the dough. If you want to get fancy, brush with egg glaze.

                          1. Unfortunately can't report on any of these great suggestions, because my parents brought some from Boston. But thanks for all the tips!! I definitely want to try some of these russian bakeries.