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Mar 14, 2014 11:50 AM

Best place to buy lox in Bay Area?

I'm flying back from Montreal on Monday with a few dozen St-Viateur sesame & poppyseed bagels in my suitcase. I'd like to have friends over for brunch next weekend and would greatly appreciate tips on where to buy good quality lox; not smoked salmon but the soggy, pink, thinly-sliced, brined belly lox like Russ and Daughters serves! Is there anywhere to source this in San Francisco? Incidentally, any really good locally made scallion cream cheese to be found?

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  1. Have you tried Cap'n Mike's Holy Smoke? Ridge pointed me here and it's the best lox I've ever tasted. They're at the ferry bldg farmers market. Here's their web site:

    (Sorry, I'm not familiar with Russ and Daughters' lox so I don't know if this is their style.)

    13 Replies
    1. re: miss louella

      Glad to hear about this place. Hopefully we'll be down to the city before we run out of our NYC bagels :)

      1. re: miss louella

        Cap'n Mike's cold smokes their salmon, so it's not lox. As the OP implied, lox is just salt cured.

        Some lox leads here:

        1. re: hyperbowler

          Thanks, I'm diggin' through the link right now!

          1. re: hyperbowler

            Very tricky of them to call it lox. Thanks for the clarification.

            1. re: miss louella

              "Nova lox" is smoked lox. "San Francisco-style lox" is whatever.

              1. re: miss louella

                Yeah, whether in SF or NY, treat anything labeled as "lox" with skepticism. It's saltier and often fattier than smoked salmon, so most people prefer the latter.

                I'm curious to learn the historical basis of the confusion. I think my family always called smoked salmon "Nova lox."

            2. re: miss louella

              I've never tried or heard of them before, but if hyperbowler says they cold smoked, then it's not "real" lox but nova, I believe. I'll check out the website but still searching for the thin-sliced salt cured stuff.

              1. re: OliverB

                Russ and Daughter's ships, so that might be a way to go if you can't find something quality locally.


                If you don't get a good recommendation for a scallion cream cheese, I really like the plain Sierra Nevada Cream Cheese they put on the bialys at Wise Sons (their smoked salmon, bialy, and cream cheese sandwich is excellent). Not sure which markets carry it:

                BTW, enjoy those bagels!

                1. re: hyperbowler

                  LOVE Russ and Daughters, if they had the room I'd move in a cot and pay rent (hmm heard they opened a cafe next door recently...)

                  just have them (or Zabar's in a pinch) ship it. and get some whitefish while you're at it.

                  1. re: hill food

                    I haven't checked them but a few years ago I wanted to order a couple of dozen bagels from H&H. With shipping it was going to cost around $80. I did without :(

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I did with and wish I didn't. I sent them to LA for a friend party and the Detroit expatriates were not impressed.

                    2. re: hill food

                      Shipping is expensive. A pound of lox is $36, shipping is $44. But you can add more stuff without shipping going up that much.

              2. If I may offer some off-topic advice please. When we visit NYC we bring back a couple of dozen bagels. They'd be hard as a rock in a couple of days. I wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap and then freeze in zipping bags. They do then need to be toasted but they are wonderful and the texture is great.

                This might sound crazy but I've bought some really good lox at TJs due to a CH rec. You could make your own cream cheese if you like. Have fun.

                1 Reply
                1. re: c oliver

                  Thanks for the tips - I do the same with bagel storage, even back in Montreal. I used to buy a dozen bagels, transfer them to ziplocks, and store all leftover after the first day in the freezer for the rest of the week.

                2. Cap'n Mike's stuff is all smoked.

                  To my knowledge, real lox (unsmoked salt-cured belly) is not available here except by mail-order or curing your own (which takes quite a while). Ask for lox and they'll give you Nova.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    totally agree with robert. none to be found in the Bay Area.

                    i've been known to come back from NY with procurements from Russ & Dtrs or Murray's (depending on which end of the island I'm staying).

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Actually Mark Bittman's Minimalist recipe produces a credible gravlax in 24 hours. Best start with a good fresh salmon belly.

                    2. After searching around the boards for a while… I think I'll just go straight to the Barney Greengrass website and order everything online. Bummer!

                      There's not much to miss food-wise coming from the East Coast, but these small things hit home.

                      4 Replies
                        1. re: c oliver

                          Thanks very much!

                          Paulie's Pickling gives me new hope… I'm excited to check them out. The website doesn't offer much, but the small photo on their menu page looks like the real deal! And they sell homemade "schmear" too. Re. Whole Foods, I haven't read positive things on CH. Wise Sons may be an option too. I've read that Swan Oyster only has smoked Norwegian salmon these days. I'm going to swing by Paulie's as soon as I'm back in town!

                          1. re: OliverB

                            I just called Paulie's and they do make real lox.

                            1. re: OliverB

                              +1 to Paulie's

                              My wife is very particular about her lox, and since tasting Paulie's she's sworn off all others.