Apparently, Jewish delis are making a comeback. In my case, however, they aren’t so much a resurgence as they are a basically brand-new discovery. Up until now, I’d only ever known the chocolate chip bagels I devoured regularly in high school. Poor, unknowing little me. Since then, I’ve eaten at a few esteemed establishments, including Russ & Daughters‘ in New York and Saul’s in Berkeley. I ain’t gonna lie, though — while my eyes have been opened to the magic of cured meats and braided bread, I’m still no reliable judge of kosher cuisine. I am, however, into brunch… which is why I found myself at the lauded Wise Sons’ Delicatessen on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Wise Sons has captured the ambiance of a kitschy corner deli perfectly, with its robin-egg-blue counters, framed antique photographs, and hustlin’ staff. We walked in, ordered from the extensive menu at the counter, and grabbed one of the few free tables available. The fuss-free process was a breath of fresh air, especially compared to typical anxiety-inducing weekend waits in this godforsaken city. The staff, busy but incredibly cheerful, delivered the goods not long after we were seated.
Jay had one perfect pastrami: exceptionally tender, toothsome cuts of hand-sliced juicy beef on double-baked rye. I couldn’t help but steal many (many) bites; despite my professed non-familiarity with Jewish cuisine, the sandwich was strangely familiar and utterly satisfying. The accompanying pickle and coleslaw cut through the richness of the pastrami wonderfully… which only meant that we had to undo the balance with an order of starchy, textbook-good fries.
I, fearing my upcoming Whole30 cleanse, opted for my last carb splurge of the month: challah French toast, topped with real warm maple syrup and seasonal (raspberry) compound butter. The dish, while very, very good, wasn’t exceptional; I now fear that my past dalliance with Nopa may have cursed my French toast affairs for life. I also ordered a side of crispy pastrami, which came out looking and tasting a mighty bit like bacon. I wasn’t complaining; the sizeable strips were intensely flavored, if a bit oily from a dunk in the deep fryer. Though I’m typically a slave to my sweet tooth, the quality meats would compel me to order savory dishes next time. Considering Jay’s pastrami-induced joy and my blissed-out brunch experience, that next time will be sooner rather than later.
My research, however, isn’t done quite yet. How does Wise Sons compare to the famous Jewish delis of NYC? I’ll fill you in after our trip next month…
Wise Sons Delicatessen
3150 24th St,
San Francisco, CA 94110