Smoked meat that’s not quite pastrami but still very good, nice twice baked rye bread, excellent potato salad, genuine kosher dill pickles, very good effort at New York Bialys, good hand cut lox, real New York egg creams, fine effort on the chopped liver …
That’s the take on Wise Sons Jewish Deli in San Francisco.
The pastrami is a bit different from what you’d expect at a Jewish deli, but it’s still well worth the stop. It tastes more of the smoke than pastrami should, more like the kind of smoked meat one would expect in Montreal.
Wise Sons is the creation of two San Franciscans who craved good pastrami and couldn’t find it in their town. So Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman started to make it themselves and serve it to friends. That turned into a pop up restaurant, which in turn became two brick and mortar locations and a spot at the Ferry Building a couple of times a week.
Their other restaurant is more centrally located in the lobby of the Contemporary Jewish Museum at 736 Mission.
One cannot fault the effort or the quality once you get passed the surprise of the first bite of pastrami. That taste is the real hickory wood flavor of the smoking process. I found the pepper in short supply for a great pastrami. But, again, as smoked meat this is very, very good.
The beef is hormone and antibiotic free; the poultry is free range and the eggs are cage free. All perfect for San Francisco.
Bialys are a rarity outside of New York. Other places bake what they call bialys, but they are not. Wise Sons bialys are as close to the real thing as I’ve experienced outside New York. The lox is identified on the menu as smoked salmon, which is a shame. It’s good; nice amount of oil; not overly salty. Why not call it what it is?
The 24th St. location serves breakfast and lunch; the Mission spot is lunch only; the Ferry Building location is a truncated menu. In a humorous nod toward Langer’s, the well-known Los Angeles deli, the Wise Sons menu includes a #19 sandwich. It’s pastrami, corned beef, or smoked turkey on rye with ‘slaw, Russian dressing and cold Swiss cheese. Just like Langer’s, you could skip the meat because you can’t taste it through the fixins.