Compared to the zaftig Jewish food scenes in New York, L.A., and Chicago, the Bay Area’s is somewhat anemic. But while there may not be a bagel-selling bodega around every corner, what we do have—a handful of destination-worthy New York–style delis, Jewish bakeries, and Israeli restaurants—is worth kvelling over.
From Loquat to Pomella, these 10 Jewish eateries in San Francisco and the East Bay will feed your craving for pastrami sandwiches the size of your head, perfectly marbled babka, and crispy falafel not just on Hanukkah and Passover but every day of the week.
Saul's Restaurant & Deli
(Courtesy of @madeleine.adkins)
Back in 1986, Saul’s was among the first to attempt to transplant a New York deli to the Bay Area. Almost 40 years later, it remains one of the most authentic purveyors of Jewish cuisine around - albeit with California touches like local, sustainable seafood, fair trade coffee and organic produce and eggs. On their breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus you’ll find beloved dishes that not even Wise Sons carries: chicken schnitzel, shakshouka, matzo brei, kasha varnishkes, stuffed cabbage rolls, and so much more. It’s worth going for the tongue-in-cheek cocktail menu alone, which includes drinks like the mensch (bourbon, cherry syrup, cocchi americano, lemon, and arak rinse) at absurdly reasonable prices.
// 1475 Shattuck Ave. (Berkeley), saulsdeli.com
(Courtesy of @explorehayesvalley)
Late last year, the petit space vacated by 20th Century Cafe got a new lease on life, one with a decidedly Jewish outlook. Part cafe, part bakery, Loquat turns out Jewish and Levantine delights like bourekas stuffed with potato bharat and ricotta sage, pastries and cakes like chocolate halva brownies and pistachio cream puffs, and three different varieties of babka (salted chocolate, poppyseed walnut, and cinnamon and date sugar). Devour them with coffee or tea in the salmon-painted bistro or take your treasure to go.
// 198 Gough St. (Hayes Valley), loquatsf.com
(Courtesy of @wisesons)
Since first opening in 2011, Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen has single handedly filled the Bay Area’s pastrami-on-rye vacuum. Now with 11 locations across the Bay from Mill Valley to Campbell (including a spot at the Contemporary Jewish Museum and a collaboration with Beauty’s Bagel Shop in Oakland’s Temescal), and appearances at local farmers markets, you’re never far away when the craving for corned beef strikes. In addition to a daily menu stocked with meaty sandos, chopped liver, challah, and other classics, Wise Sons does things up right for holidays like Passover, with special menus and meal kits with all the traditional eats.
// Multiple Bay Area locations, wisesonsdeli.com
(Courtesy of @pomellaoakland)
Chef-owner Mica Talmor shares an Israeli approach to Jewish food at Oakland’s Pomella. Instead of New York deli-style eats, the menu teems with dishes rooted in Middle Eastern and North African traditions like hummus, mezze, flatbread wraps, and tagines. In the explicitly politics-free restaurant, you’ll also find occasional events around Jewish celebrations like Hanukkah and Passover.
// 3770 Piedmont Ave. (Oakland), pomellaoakland.com
(Courtesy of @grandbakeryoakland)
If you’ve got a hankering for challah, Grand Bakery’s got the goods. Since 1959, they’ve been baking braided loaves, pan loaves, knots, and rolls full of egg-and-gluten goodness in a handful of varieties, from raisin to sesame. Grand Bakery is also one of the best spots in the Bay to find holiday baked goods off season (think hamantaschen and macaroons). If you celebrate Shabbat, a delivery of their box, which includes candles, bagels and schmear, challah, and macaroons, will make your Friday night.
// Located inside the Food Mill, 3033 McArthur Blvd. (Oakland), grandbakeryoakland.com
(Courtesy of @boichikbagels)
Berkeley-based bagel company Boichik just more than doubled in size with the opening of a sister location to its original grab-and-go on College Avenue (there is also a Palo Alto location which opened last year). The 18,000 square foot bagel factory complete with robot bagel makers has both indoor and outdoor seating and room for baking pastries like black-and-white cookies and rugelach, goodies they had to forgo in their original pint-sized place. In addition to their (kosher) fan-favorite bagels and creative shmears like horseradish-cheddar-scallion and pickled fennel with preserved lemon, Boichik does Jewish staples like lox, whitefish salad, and sable. If you’re hosting a breakfast or brunch, their classic party platters are a must.
// 1225 6th St. (Berkeley), boichikbagels.com
Mark 'N Mike's NY Style Deli
(Courtesy of @onemarketsf)
This little Jewish deli tucked inside One Market Restaurant isn’t messing around with its deli meats. Mark ‘N Mike’s sandos come overstuffed with 12-hour smoked brisket, cold-smoked Bodega Bay salmon, and more wedged between two slices of twice-baked rye or challah bread. Prefer your meat with a latke base? They do that too, along with a mean matzo ball soup, potato salad and coleslaw, and chocolate-dipped macaroons and rugelach.// Located inside One Market Restaurant, 1 Market St. (Financial District), onemarket.com
Oakland Kosher Foods
(Courtesy of @workitberk)
There are two ways to nosh at the oldest still-standing kosher market in the Bay, Oakland Kosher Foods. The first is its hummus bar & New York deli Abba’s, where they merge the best of two styles of Jewish cuisine: hummus, falafel, and shawarma on one side, chunky pastrami, turkey, and egg salad sandwiches on the other. The second is the market itself, where they sell a wide variety of baked goods, dairy products, meat, and snacks to bring home. Be sure to check out their kosher wine selection, which at 800 bottles, is Northern California’s largest.
// 3419 Lakeshore Ave. (Oakland), oaklandkosherfoods.com
(Courtesy of @sababa.restaurant)
Israeli chef-owner Guy Eshel’s Israeli street food shop Sababa is a popular lunch stop for the Financial District and SoMa set. Its name, a Hebrew (and Arabic) slang term indicating contentment, says it all. The fast-casual eatery’s menu revolves around satisfying pita sandwiches, rice bowls, and salad bowls with mix-and-match options like falafel, chicken shawarma, beef kofta, eggplant-and-egg sabik, quinoa tabouli, and other roasted, pickled, and fresh veggies. Swing by either of its downtown locations to get a taste.
// 329 Kearny St. (Financial District) and 71 Stevenson St. (SoMa), sababasf.com
(Courtesy of @chefico)
While Che Fico isn’t strictly a Jewish restaurant, chef David Nayfeld simultaneously pays homage to Italian food and his family heritage by featuring traditional cucina ebraica from Rome’s once thriving Jewish community. On every menu they use a Jewish star to demarcate those dishes, which include things like whole roasted branzino with artichoke, orange, and olive, and triangoli (sunchokes with Meyer lemon, calcot onion and chive). For major Jewish holidays, the Che Fico team cooks up a spread to bring home to your own table. The current Passover menu includes braised brisket (or a vegetarian stuffed red pepper main), matzo ball soup, and chicory salad for four.
// 838 Divisadero St. (NoPa), chefico.com