Hardly Strictly Bagels | Wise Sons new location: Jewish bonding over sandwiches

Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen’s second brick-and-mortar location opened two weeks ago at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and I’m not sure where to start.

On one hand, I want to lay out all the details — which sandwiches you can get there but not at the 24th Street location, the unexpected but sweet partnership deal with De La Paz Coffee, and why the menu is wrong about the matzah ball soup when it says “probably not as good as your bubbie’s.” It’s better!

But what’s equally compelling is the sense of community the new location has created: tourists from all over the world enjoying a Jewish nosh; locals trying Wise Sons for the first time because of the more accessible location; staff from the Koret Found-ation and Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture meeting over coffee and mandelbrot last week to discuss upcoming projects. Have the 14 tables inside and four outside become the center of the Bay Area’s Jewish universe?

“The museum is all about bringing people together and creating community,” said Lori Starr, the CJM’s new executive director. “What’s great is this is a match made in heaven, because Wise Sons is about creating community, too, and they do it through food.”

The museum’s attendance in July was 10,056, more than double what is was in July a year ago, and Wise Sons is getting some credit for that even though it didn’t open until July 26. In its first week the deli served an average of 200 people a day, and museum officials, expecting the momentum to continue, are hoping August admissions exceed 13,000.

Wise Sons co-owners Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman — who got their start together cooking weekly barbecue dinners for what grew to be huge crowds at Berkeley Hillel about 10 years ago — are excited about being a central part of the Jewish community, but they also said Jews aren’t necessarily the target audience, especially during the lunch rush. That would be downtown office workers in pursuit of a quick, tasty meal.

To that end, efficiency is a key component of the operation at the CJM, and sandwiches are the main attraction. People can choose their meat (hot pastrami, hot corned beef, smoked turkey and roast brisket) and order it one of three ways: as a classic on rye; as a Reuben; or as a No. 19, with coleslaw, Russian dressing and cold Swiss cheese in tribute to Langer’s Deli in Los Angeles.

Menu at the museum

Other sandwiches are available, including some not offered at the Mission District location, such as egg salad, and each is served on house-made rye, challah or seeded whole wheat, with pickle spears. But the offerings beyond the sandwiches are few.

People can eat inside, where the space is bright and airy, with lots of glass and brick, or outside on the plaza, where there’s a walk-up window. Customers are encouraged to phone in orders for quicker service. Inside diners need to go through a metal detector, but museum admission is not required.

Weekday breakfast service from the walk-up window started this week, with offerings such as freshly made bialys, shmears, egg sandwiches and pastries. Soon bagels from Beauty’s Bagel Shop in Oakland will be available.

Wise Sons’ next project will be dinner service at its 24th Street location, which recently secured a wine-and-beer license. “After the High Holy Days, we hope to be open for dinner there,” Bloom said. “To me, that’s the most exciting thing. I can’t wait. But we really want to get it right and spend the time on it that it deserves.”

Wise Sons at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

736 Mission St., San Francisco

Dining room: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Tuesday; 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday; closed Wednesday

Takeaway window and plaza seating: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday

www.wisesonsdeli.com; @WiseSonsDeli on Twitter; www.facebook.com/wisesonsdeli
(415) 655-7887



The episode of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” featuring Miller’s East Coast Deli in San Francisco will air at 9:30 p.m. Sept. 9 on the Food Network. Taped in May with host Guy Fieri, the segment will be part of an episode titled “Servin’ Up San Francisco.”

In the meantime, the Miller’s location in San Rafael is cranking things up ahead of the expected onslaught of customers.

On Monday, Aug. 12, owner Robby Morgenstein is launching “Beer and Bites,” 3 to 7 p.m. weeknights through October. Held on the deli’s front patio, it will feature small bites like Reuben puffs and pastrami potato skins, along with glasses or pitchers of beer (and yes, there are some good choices).

Next up will be “Friday Night Family Meals” once a month starting Aug. 16. It’s not a Shabbat dinner, but the food will be served family style for what Morgenstein hopes will be 30 to 50 diners (reservations needed).

“If it’s meant to take on a more Shabbat vibe, then it can go in that direction,” he said. “But my hope is just that it becomes a nice community thing in Marin.”

The 6:30 p.m. prix fixe meals will include an appetizer, soup, main course, side dishes and dessert. And challah, of course. Morgenstein said the cost will be $17.99 per person.

The best place for more information is Miller’s Facebook page (Millersdelisf), or call (415) 453-3354 for reservations.




When a Jewish food festival in Northern California needs a special parking lot and offers a free shuttle — and when organizers decide to cut off ticket sales so they won’t run out of food like they did last year — you know it’s a big deal.

Such is the case in Santa Rosa for the second annual Jewish Food Fest.

More than 1,600 people showed up for last year’s inaugural event, put on by Congregation Shomrei Torah, and, sadly, some left hungry. This year, ticket sales will be limited to 1,300, and quantities of certain foods are being doubled and even tripled; for example, there will be 700 plates of latkes and 150 kugels. Other highlights include deli sandwiches, bagels and lox, and tons of baked goods (some homemade, some from Oakland’s Grand Bakery and some flown in from New York).

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 18 at Shomrei Torah, 2600 Bennett Valley Road, with free parking at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Admission is $5, free for children 12 and younger. For tickets or information, visit www.srjewishfoodfest.com or call (707) 578-5519.

A week later, on Aug. 25, Congregation Beth Israel in Carmel Valley is hosting its 26th annual Jewish Food Festival at 5716 Carmel Valley Road from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. There’s also an auxiliary parking lot and free shuttle service. The food offerings are vast. Admission is free. Find out more at www.carmelbethisrael.org, or call (831) 624-2015.



Beauty’s Bagel Shop in Oakland is having a one-year anniversary party for loyal customers featuring free mimosas, small bites and live music from 12 to 2 p.m. Aug. 25 at 3838 Telegraph Ave. … Augie’s Montreal Smoke Meat is a new pop-up restaurant Mondays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Beauty’s. Its specialty is a sandwich made of brisket that’s been cured for seven days, seasoned with a rub and comes out with the texture of corned beef. Follow @augiessmokemeat on Twitter for details … Shorty Goldstein’s in S.F. has applied for a beer and wine license. If and when it is granted, look for the downtown deli to start staying open until 7 p.m. for a happy hour and early dinner options for the after-work crowd. For now, it closes at 4 p.m. … The creative sandwiches at the Deli Board (with names like the Walowitz and the Gold-n-berg-n-stein) are no longer available on Sundays. Owner Adam Mesnick is expanding the San Francisco shop’s weekday hours but closing on Sundays … Two big gigs are coming up for Wise Sons Deli: its first appearance at Outside Lands this weekend (pastrami sandwiches and pastrami-cheese fries), and a third straight year at the San Francisco Street Food Festival on Aug. 17 (chocolate babka) … Bend the Arc is merging its Jewish social activism with, yes, food trucks! It is co-hosting an immigration-themed Shabbat at the food truck gathering Bites off Broadway on Friday, Aug. 9, at 6 p.m. at 365 45th St. in Oakland.

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Send hot tips and out-of-the-way finds to Andy Altman-Ohr at [email protected]

Andy Altman-Ohr

Andy Altman-Ohr was J.’s managing editor and Hardly Strictly Bagels columnist until he retired in 2016 to travel and live abroad. He and his wife have a home base in Mexico, where he continues his dalliance with Jewish journalism.