Passover began this past Monday evening, and it got me thinking about the dearth of truly authentic Jewish delicatessens. Thankfully, though, more have been cropping up in recent years. Shorty Goldstein’s is the newest addition to the San Francisco deli scene, joining the ranks of Wise Sons and Miller’s East Coast. This Financial District spot opened its doors in early March to great reviews and lines out the door at lunchtime.
Owner and chef Michael Siegel, formerly of Betelnut, named the restaurant after his great-grandmother, and he cures, brines, and pickles everything in-house.The space is small, simple, but elegant; exposed brick and chalkboard walls frame the small space that seats about 20 people. The walls are filled with family photos, reminiscent of any young Jew’s family tree. In fact, a literal family tree is written on one wall, showing the lineage from Shorty down to Michael himself. The small dining area opens directly into the kitchen, where you can see Michael and his staff hand-making pastries and pickles. The menu is handwritten behind the counter, making it feel intimate and homey.
Brunch is served daily until 11 am, where you can order matzo brei (eggs scrambled with matzo—exactly what I was craving for Passover), gravlax, blintzes, challah French toast, and corned beef and pastrami benedict. The house-brined pastrami is thick cut, juicy, and tender–not like the pastrami I’m used to from the Jewish delis of my childhood. Other traditional Jewish nibbles include latkes, knishes, chopped liver, homemade pickles, rugelach (tasty Jewish rolled cookies), potato salad, and noodle kugel. It’s like you’re in Michael’s Bubby’s (Grandma’s) house, eating the treats she made for her very own family. Wash it all down with a cold egg cream, and you have yourself an authentic Jewish meal.
pastrami on rye from Facebook
Unfortunately, Shorty’s is located in the Financial District, which means it’s closed on weekends and busy during lunchtime hours. I ventured in on a Friday morning, so it was empty, cozy, and fully stocked. Hopefully, it may some day become more than a commuter’s sandwich shop, so the rest of us can flock to it on weekends. Either way, it’s worth the detour, especially if followed up by a walk through the Ferry Building and a glass of wine on the Pier.
126 Sutter St., open weekdays, 7 am-6:30 pm (lunch begins at 10:30)