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Where can I get good challah bread in San Francisco???

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Ok. I moved here from NYC. I miss like really good challah bread and I'm not sure where I can get it.

While you're at it how about a good Jewish deli? There are jews here right?

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  1. I think the challah from the Grand Bakery in Oakland is excellent. I'm not sure exactly where it's sold in SF, but I'm sure some stores carry it. I think others like Irving's.

    good jewish deli? Not so much available here.

    1. I think the challah at Acme Bread is very good, though it may not be exactly traditional. The original shop is in Berkeley, but Acme bread is also available at various stores in SF--someone else will have to chime in, though, about whether the Acme challah is sold at particular grocery stores, etc.

      Acme Bread
      1601 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

      1. You might check Semifreddi's. On average their breads aren't quite as good as Acme (imo) but they do a couple of specialty items that are very good to excellent (ciabatta roll, cinammon twist bread). I don't know how their challah stacks up but I thought it was very good. They ahve 4 retail locations in the East Bay and their products are in grocery stores, even Lucky's.


        2 Replies
        1. re: ML8000

          I generally don't like Semifreddi's stuff, but their challah is excellent.

          1. re: ML8000

            i completely agree with Robert on this one. Tho I don't care for their other stuff, heir challah is tasty.

          2. Jews, yes. Deli's, not so much. Prepare to be homesick for challah.

            At this point your best bet in SF will be Noe Valley Bakery. It's not exactly how I like it, but it is close and it is a nice bit of breadmaking. Plus they do a nice circular braid on the holidays.

            I'll 2nd the Grand Bakery recommendation and add a link. They're also good for fix of any other kosher baked good you might crave.

            I also like the challah at Arizmendi, even if it is not exactly traditional. Close, but they add a little flair and difference to everything they do. I've linked to the Emeryville store since that's where I go, but I'll bet the SF store is just as good.

            Grand Bakery
            3264 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

            Noe Valley Bakery & Bread Co
            4073 24th St, San Francisco, CA

            Arizmendi Bakery & Pizzeria
            4301 San Pablo Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608

            1 Reply
            1. re: BernalKC

              I'm happy to report that the challah at Liberty Cafe Bakery is back. During the recent tumult surrounding the changes at Liberty the challah went downhill and I stopped frequenting the bakery. My picks above were from that period, and as a long time fan of Liberty challah it pained me to exclude them. Well, I was misisng it so I tried it again recently and it was really, really good. A lot better, IMO, than Grand and certainly better than Noe Valley. Check it out if you find yourself on Cortland on a mid-Friday morning.

            2. Seriously, there's no reason to go to the East Bay.

              Irving's which is sold at Israel Kosher


              CHALLAH: The prettiest I’ve seen in the Bay Area with a brown crust that is golden from egg yolks. It is the closest to the challah I grew up with (not Jewish, but Polish). It has an almost brioche-like texture. $4

              Citizen Cake

              The challah wasn't as dense as I like it, but the sesames seeds were very nice

              House of Bagels

              Didn't care for the egg challah. Haven't tried the water challah yet.

              Some people like Noe Valley Bakery challah

              Not sure if yhe cafe at the JCC makes it

              What deli items are you looking for

              House of Bagels
              5030 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

              Lotta's Bakery
              1720 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

              Citizen Cake
              399 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

              2 Replies
              1. re: rworange

                Irving's Challah is good...it is sold in a number of places...even the bookstore at the S.F. JCC
                here's a link to his website with locations...


                1. re: ChowFun_derek

                  I second the recommendations of Irving's Premium. I think it's the best I've had in the Bay Area and reminds me of what I grew up with at Rodef Sholom - Marin JCC in San Rafael, which is where I have purchased it on Friday mornings the last few years.

                  I have had Grand Bakery's version many times since the late 80s. I think Irving's is better.

                  Grand Bakery
                  3264 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

              2. Canyon Market in Glen Park makes Challah on Fridays only and I like it quite a bit. Certainly better (imo) than Noe Valley Bakery and very fresh. They have plain, poppy and sesame.

                3 Replies
                1. re: bdl

                  i second the recommendation for the plain. Haven't treid any others.

                  1. re: bdl

                    I like Canyon's in house baked breads a great deal, but if the rounded challah I tried is similar to the standard twist, one shouldn't expect a very rich, or eggy challah. That may suit some preferences.

                    1. re: bdl

                      If you are in GP, I highly recommend trying the Destination Bakery challah. IMHO, much much better. I do like Canyon's other breads though. (And their tortilla chips!)

                      Destination Baking Co
                      598 Chenery St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                    2. There's no great deli around here. Miller's East Coast West is probably the closest.

                      1. Surprisingly enough, Draeger's makes a good challah. If you're ever on the peninsula, that is. The trip will give you a reason to try the ONLY reasonably good kosher restaurant in the entire bay area.

                        Draeger's Supermarket
                        222 E 4th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

                        The Kitchen Table
                        142 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                        1. Okay for all you other Jews out there:
                          I discovered not so long ago that Harvest Market in the Castro has Cinnamon and Chocolate Babka from Greenberg's in New York.
                          I don't know how this wound up there, but it's one of the best things in the world.

                          They're in the front window with all the rest of the bread.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: pauliface

                            Harvest Ranch Market
                            2285 Market Street
                            (between 16th St & Noe St)
                            San Francisco, CA 94114
                            (415) 626-0805

                          2. Moscow & Tblisi Bakery has a sweet challah as well as a non-sweet challah.

                            Moscow & Tbilisi Bakery Store
                            5540 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA

                            1. Surprisingly (perhaps), the Boulangerie people (Bay Bread) make a good challah. I believe they have it available at the flagship Pine St. store on Fridays. It is brioche-like in texture, and makes for delicious French Toast once it gets a bit stale.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: mrs bacon

                                I was going to suggest Boulangerie too. I think it's actually a Brioche bread and what I had was loaf shaped (maybe they have a twisty challah too?). It was great, and very similar to the soft thicker, very rich eggier challah rather than the more airy, lighter stuff with a more subtle flavor, that you might find in Brooklyn sometimes. If you're looking for that lighter water challah, I think it's going to be more about texture than flavor.

                                I also like House of Bagels version if you an eggy yellowish challah.
                                I'm of the impression Grand Bakery tastes better direct from the shop. Whatever Molly Stone's sells is usually dried out and bland.

                                Grand Bakery
                                3264 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

                                1. re: sugartoof

                                  Have you tried both HOB challahs? They have a water challah and the other kind.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    I'm mostly partial to the egg challahs.

                                    The water challah's are very similar to me, they just taste like an "off" version of the egg challah. They're best with raisins, or candied, during Jewish holidays. I don't think I'd drive across a bridge to get a HOB challah, but they are traditional challahs, at least.

                              2. I like challah from House of Bagels on geary st.

                                House of Bagels
                                5030 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                1. Okay. I eat challah most Shabbat evenings and lunches, and I can tell you that I've had it all in the Bay Area. Without question, your best challah for old fashioned consistency, sweetness and softness is the Grand Bakery's. They're in Oakland, but Mollie Stone's on California in SF carries it.

                                  Second choice is Semifreddi's, which is just okay but generally what you'll find everywhere. And Irving's is close to my heart because I know the family, but the best thing about their challah is the mongo sizes. You can get giant Irving's challahs, which are awesome to behold.

                                  Acme challahs are stupid. It's like someone decided, hmmm, let's do our "artisanal thing" on challah...which ought to mean, doing it like gramma did, right? But no. It's a crusty peasant loaf like everything else trendy in town. Challah is not trendy. Challah is not crusty. I bought one of these once, thinking, oh cool, badass challah. Brought it to a Shabbas dinner and people were like, what weird-ass challah is this? Stick with their sour batards and olive loafs, that's what they do well. :-)

                                  But yeah, I have to echo what some others have said here. This is not a good town for Jewish food in general. I am gonna check out the new Kitchen Table restaurant in Mountain View soon, which has gotten some good reviews for its pastrami and kosher charcuterie but really, heavy sigh, it's kind of exciting these days to be in LA or NY and taste some different challah for kicks.

                                  I'm gonna start baking my own soon, or at least I keep saying that to myself.

                                  Grand Bakery
                                  3264 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

                                  4242 Hollis St, Emeryville, CA

                                  Mollie Stone's
                                  851 Cherry Ave # 22, San Bruno, CA

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: sarahlefton

                                    The easiest I have made was from "A First Jewish Holiday Cookbook" we bought for my daughter 20+ years ago. My braiding skills, never good, have deteriorated but it still looked and tasted pretty good.

                                    1. re: sarahlefton

                                      I have always been a fan of challah with a crisp exterior imbued with poppy or sesame seeds...perhaps these are known as water challas, (Challot) but this Boy from Brooklyn, definitely is NOT partial to soft spongy challah...I like a slightly sweet, 'eggy' taste.......with a full not 'cottony' interior.....personal taste...I guess

                                    2. Around Rosh Hashannah, I was able to get a challah baked by the Bread Workshop from the Country Cheese shop on Divis. It was awesome, and by far the best I've had since moving from NY. The store only does special orders for it around holiday time, but I'm not sure if the workshop makes challah regularly

                                      Country Cheese
                                      415 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA

                                      1. A new option, the Pasta Shop is now making their own in house. I haven't tried it but it looked good.

                                        1. Nabolom Bakery off of College Ave in Berkeley makes a decent challah.

                                          Nabolom Bakery
                                          2708 Russell St, Berkeley, CA 94705

                                          1. Destination Bakery in Glen Park makes a truly incredible challah. It has a perfect texture and taste: just the right amount of chewiness and sweetness. And it is pareve (no butter--some bakeries like Noe Valley cheat and use butter). Every once in while, the challah is a bit dry, but I would say 90% of the time it is fabulous. (And pick up a great pie when you are there)

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Kmanlove

                                              Okay...I originally suggested the challah at Canyon Market which is certainly adequate. But today I tried the Challah from Destination Bakery because of Kmanlove's recommendation. This blows the socks of Canyon's and is the best I've had so far in the city (okay, I haven't had that many, but still). A truly beautiful loaf!

                                              Canyon Market
                                              2815 Diamond Street, San Francisco, CA

                                              1. re: bdl

                                                So glad you like it! I think it is one of the best I have had in the U.S.

                                            2. IIRC (remembering back to 2000), I bought challah at House of Bagels in Burlingame for my son's bar mitzvah. They were really, really good, and they do different sizes depending on how many people you need to feed. I believe Suzanne's Bakery in Millbrae also does a good challah, but I don't think I've bought any, just had them at a friend's house. I think Suzanne also does round ones for the High Holidays. House of Bagels probably does that too. Obviously, my memory isn't perfectly clear on that subject, but it's worth a try if you're willing to venture south.

                                              As for a good Jewish deli, there isn't anything that comes close to what you want (and I grew up in Brooklyn, so I definitely get it). Max's Restaurant Group (lots of locations) does a good job of presenting the cuisine but none are delis per se, and they don't get any love on this board. I was at Oakland Kosher about 2 years ago, and they had a lot of grocery items they shipped in from NY (Ba Tampte red horseradish!!). I'm not sure what they stock now. I had some chicken soup w/matzo balls that literally had me in tears, it was sooo good.

                                              1. Welcome west, from a native New Yorker. The best challah I've ever had is made by a baker in a tiny little shop (it's literally about as big as a pickup truck) in on N. Santa Cruz Avenue in Los Gatos called Mama's Bakery. He closes early Friday and all day Saturday for the Sabbath. Crazy good, you have to taste it to believe it. My mom came to visit and now she has me ship it back to her in NY... I send her challah, she sends me bagels. And so it goes...

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Kiji2

                                                  Here's the website for Mama's Bakery in Los Gatos.

                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                    Sjnce we've wandered far away from SF, in Penngrove, Full Circle Baking does a nice challah. Not destination worthy, IMO, but good for anyone in the area.

                                                    Full Circle
                                                    70 Skyview Ter, San Rafael, CA

                                                2. I'm certainly no expert, and couldn't vouch for its "pareve-itude" but I am happy when Friday rolls around if only for the availability of challah at Boulange bakeries throughout The City.

                                                  1. So, i've been on a challah run in recent weeks. Havent tried all that have been suggested here, but here's my opinion on the ones i have tried.

                                                    Top Tier: Grand Bakery, Cheeseboard and Semifreddi's

                                                    If i had to choose one, i would probably go with cheeseboard. It's likely not as authentic as Grand, but i like the texture more. It has a more crispier/crunchier (but not crusty, if this makes sense) outside and a nice doughy inside (but not too doughy). It has a nice sweetness to it, but it doesnt overwhelm you. Grand's challah is consistent and soft. Definitely not doughy inside. It's actually quite similar to Semifreddi's, hence why both are in the same tier. Honestly, if you took two challah loaves, one semifreddi and the other grand, i probably couldnt tell the difference.

                                                    Mid tier: Acme, Hopkins Bakery and Nabolom

                                                    As someone mentioned above, Acme does not really make traditional challah. It has a crusty outside, which sort of takes away from the bread. But, it's inside is similar to Grand and Semi, although probably less doughy. Nabolom is by far the doughiest of the challah's i've had. It's outside is very similar to Cheeseboard. At first I liked it a lot, but the doughiness of it got to me midway. Hopkins is similar to Nabolom, but not quite as doughy.

                                                    Bottom Tier: Sweet Adeline and Bread Workshop

                                                    Sweet Adeline was by far the most unimpressive. It really didnt taste like challah. It was more like a big croissant. I'll give it some credit for its relatively cheap price ($3 for a very large loaf). Bread workshop isnt that bad, but it's kind of dry. I wish I could remember, but they include an ingredient that is not traditionally used in challah recipes.

                                                    These are all east bay centric. When it's Friday and im in another area, I'll try other challahs and report back here.

                                                    Nabolom Bakery
                                                    2708 Russell St, Berkeley, CA 94705

                                                    Grand Bakery
                                                    3264 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

                                                    Sweet Adeline
                                                    3350 Adeline St, Berkeley, CA

                                                    372 Colusa Ave, Kensington, CA

                                                    3084 Claremont Ave, Berkeley, CA

                                                    4242 Hollis St, Emeryville, CA

                                                    Hopkins Street Bakery
                                                    1584 Hopkins St, Berkeley, CA

                                                    Bread Workshop
                                                    1398 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: majordanby

                                                      Impressive. Nice report. For anyone who likes Grand Bakery challah, the Berekely Jewish Community Center sells it on Friday.

                                                      I have one more for you to try in the East Bay ... ok two. Great Harvest bread on College in Rockridge makes it on Friday. Currently the Pasta Shop has been making it, but I don't know if that is a regular thing or just for the holiday.

                                                      I haven't tried either though. I was preoccupied with my Swedish orange rye from Great Harvest. You might not even need to buy a loaf at GH. They have samples of all the breads ... and by sample I mean a whole slice.

                                                      This is a national franchise with over 200 locations in the United States ... and I mean ALL the United States. BUT ... basically they are all independant franchises. While they make some common breads, pretty much each shop does its own thing. It was a little annoying that the Oakland store doesn't sell sourdough while a shop in Washington sells a dozen varieties. Flour is ground at the bakery and lots of stuff is organic.

                                                      There is also Bread Garden (not Bread Workshop). I think they might also sell their challah at Berkeley Bowl West

                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                        Tried out 3 more

                                                        Great Harvest: Bottom Tier

                                                        Definitely not traditional. The crust had a light brown color, sort of like a whole wheat bagel. Not dense or doughy at all. Nearly as dry as Bread Workshop. I was looking forward to this one because 1.) I hadnt eaten breakfast that morning so i was hungry and 2.) I got one piping hot out of the oven. It also had a slight odd sweetness to it that's not the same sweetness i found with Cheeseboard/Grand/Semi. I should go back and ask what the ingredients were because this, along with that big, fat dry croissant thing that Sweet Adeline passes off as challah, was one of the more odder tasting challahs ive eaten.

                                                        Bread Garden: Mid Tier

                                                        I bought challah directly from the bakery. For some reason, they werent selling a plain one, so i went with the sesame seed. It's not dense or doughy. Kind of dry, but not as dry as Bread Workshop or Great Harvest. Has similar consistency as Semi/Grand, but not as sweet. I like doughy and dense, so i would probably go with Hopkins or Nabolom over this. It's fine, but if i had to further disaggregate the mid tier, this would fall somewhere in the bottom.

                                                        Ester's German Bakery: Mid Tier

                                                        Probably the best of the three in terms of overall consistency, density and sweetness. Still on the dry side relative to the Top Tier and even the dense challahs in the mid tier (Nabolom, Hopkins). This is a South Bay bakery, so I actually purchased this at Berkeley Bowl.

                                                        I think i'm all challahed out for the moment. Will try to taste the Irving Challah sometime in the near future. Maybe if im in the city on a Friday, i'll try those suggested in this thread.