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Aug 31, 2012 12:45 PM

SF Dish of the Month (Sep 2012) - Cucumber Pickles

Announcing the September 2012 San Francisco Bay Area Dish of the Month: Cucumber Pickles

Link to Voting Thread:
Link to Nomination Thread:

The goal is to collectively try as many versions of cucumber pickles as possible during the month of September! So let's start exploring and eating—report back with reviews and photos.

Looking forward to seeing what people try!

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  1. Kicking off a months worth of salty goodness, I stopped by some Eastern European / Russian markets on Geary. I was looking for  what delis in NY call half sour pickles, but I've seen then described as new pickles too. These are pickled only in salt and must be refrigerated. On the pickle spectrum, I like the ones that are more towards the cucumber side, but with some spicing. 

    Europa Express on Geary didn't have any today. The last time I was at their location near Ocean Beach, they had them in barrels from Brooklyn. 

    New World Market's are made in house. They come in quart size containers, and there's parsley, dill, and tiny amounts of red pepper. These were a little bit too salty, and you couldn't really detect any spices. They were slightly more pickled than I like, but for that exact reason, my friends preferred this one. 

    Royal Market & Bakery's are delivered from LA and are  prepackaged in quart size plastic containers. There only visible herb was parsley. They had a lot more red pepper flakes than those from NWM, but the flavor didn't come through that much. These were very salty, and pickled to the level I enjoy most.

    Both place's pickles were very fresh tasting. They are bright green, with some yellowish streaks.

    As an aside, RMB has raw marinated quail for $2.29/lb and they're delicious. They also have fresh puri, Armenian bread, for $.75. 

    5 Replies
    1. re: hyperbowler

      I've had the half sours at Moishe's Pippic (but not recently)
      425 Hayes St
      (between Gough St & Octavia St)
      San Francisco, CA 94102

      today's pickle was a bite off my neighbor's plate at Wise Sons. good-sour-crunch

      1. re: Cynsa

        Here's the photo of the Schlubby Joe at Wine Sons deli. It came with two spears of dill pickle. Wise serves full sours and what it calls 3/4 sours. I think the piece you cut off was from the 3/4 sour. That term captures the point where I like my salt-pickled, lacto-fermented dills. Still very crunchy, but more character and tartness, not just salty.

        Has anyone ordered the Wise Sons pickle plate, described on the menu as assorted vinegar and salt fermented vegetables?

      2. re: hyperbowler

        The New World Market "half sours" I bought about six weeks ago were too cucumber-y for me at the time, but are good now. I don't see any red pepper, but there are some big hunks of jalapeno in the container.

        1. re: hyperbowler

          Europa on Geary gets them from LA. I don't know if they're from the same place RMB gets them from. The full sours are salt brined, and through the power of malolactic fermentation and no visible spices, don't have the most complex flavor beyond salt. Good crunch though and fully pickled yet fresh.

          I also picked up a jar of Zergut brand Russian Style Dill Pickles in a jar. They've got a nice kick from hot pepper and garlic, but the jarring process has left these salt brined pickles without any crunch.

        2. Oooh, you picked something I can really get into! I had some really good pickles from Sonoma Brinery (purchased at Whole Foods) a couple of months ago. Some of the best I've had (unlike hyperbowler I like them slightly more toward the "pickle" end than the "cucumber" end, and these were just right).

          2 Replies
            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I picked up some Sonoma Brinery bread-and-butter pickles from Berkeley Bowl recently ($3.29 for a 16 oz. tub, in the bottom shelf of the case where they have packaged deli meats at the Oregon store). I like them, too. The cucumber slices retain a nice crunch, and have a have a bit of chile heat in the background. Thin strands of onion are mellowed by the brine.

              They also make a spicy bread-and-butter pickle with (presumably) more chile, plus garlic and red bell pepper in the mix. I'll try those next.

            2. I got a sandwich at Bar Tartine (the lentil patty) and to my happy surprise there were a few thin slices of pickle! These are full sours and some of the best I've eaten. The colors ranged from spotty yellow to dark green, and they were crunchy throughout. They weren't especially salty, and they left a pleasant burn on the tongue. I was told that the chefs don't have a regiment for the pickles, and throw in what strikes their fancy. These were flavored with dill, serrano peppers, mustard seeds, salt, pepper, and a few other things. It would be a sin not to return for their evening pickle plate and see how these are pre-sliced.

              1. came across pickled cucumber spears in a plastic jar @Dickey's bbq, livermore.

                pickles were crunchy but otherwise not noteworthy.
                -not sour, no other flavors, fresh though. assumed pickles made in house per food items claimed to be made in house.

                1. Gotta give a shout out to the tartar sauce at The Monte Carlo in SF's Bayview, just off the Third Street line. In my original post, I described it as densely pickled. I'd say it had about 4x the normal concentration of minced pickle.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I love the pickled veggies (incl Cucumber) that come with your sandwich at Barbacco. I always ask for more pickles and they are really nice about it too.

                    Next on my list are the pickles from Brooklyn Brine.