Hardly strictly bagels | This Mission bakery hands out free bagels


     With Passover almost in the rearview mirror, I’m more than ready to charge back into the world of leavened bread, and what better way to do that than by eating a bagel? And what better way to do that than with a free bagel?

Every Monday morning, Sour Flour puts out free bagels at La Victoria, a Mexican bakery and co-op on 24th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District.

“People can just walk in and take one, but it’s limited. We put out only a few dozen,” said Sour Flour owner and San Francisco native Danny Gabriner. “We’ve been doing it since 2010.”

Yes, Gabriner, who is Jewish, has been running his bagel program/experiment for five years, during which time he has come to one major conclusion: “People are too busy to get free bagels.” A note about the giveaway is included on at least one San Francisco “tip sheet” for tourists, but still, the mad rush isn’t on.

“The bakery opens at 7 a.m.,” Gabriner said, “so if you come before 8, you’re guaranteed a bagel, between 8 and 9 there’s a good chance, and after 9, they might be gone. But there are Mondays when the bagels will be sitting out on the table until possibly noon.”

Sour Flour is a small operation that mainly makes sourdough loaves and is equally focused on building community (e.g., the bagel giveaway) and education (such as bagel-making workshops, next scheduled for June 7).

Though Gabriner has, for the most part, purposefully kept his staff and operation small, and continues to bake at La Victoria rather than seeking his own location, bagel production has been on the upswing.

Recently, Sour Flour began making bagels every day and selling them through Good Eggs (delivery) and Farmigo (drop-off spots). They can be purchased at Buffalo Whole Foods in San Francisco and at the Noe Valley Farmers Market, and at some local cafes, such as Wicked Grounds Kink Café and Boutique in SoMa.

Danny Gabriner and a few of his Sour Flour bagels

“We charge $1 per bagel at the farmers market, a dozen for $10, and even less through wholesale,” said Gabriner, 29, a man not consumed with profits and bottom lines. “Some places in San Francisco are charging $2.50 per bagel. But we want these to be affordable.” That same price even goes for deliveries to San Francisco offices, Gabriner said, which can be arranged with 72-hour notice.

A few years ago, Gabriner was making about 80 bagels per week, mainly for the Monday giveaway. Now he’s up to about 700 per week — including 150 to 200 on his biggest day, Saturday. And it’s not an easy process. Rather than using a machine, Gabriner or one of his bakers hand rolls each one. The process also includes a resting period for the dough (before rolling) and a fermenting period (before they are boiled and then baked).

The dough includes a bit of sourdough starter, and all the ingredients are organic, Gabriner said. The resulting product is flavorful and chewy. The varieties are plain, sesame seed, poppy seed, salt, everything, and occasionally onion.

Sour Flour

Bagel Monday at La Victoria Bakery, 2937 24th St. at Alabama Street, San Francisco

www.sourflour.org; @SourFlour on Twitter;

Sour Flour on Facebook

(415) 787-0012 or [email protected]



VACAVILLE KOSHER DELI?: Three months ago, Chabad of Solano County purchased a building in Vacaville that will be its new home after painting, remodeling and renovation. The plans, according to Rabbi Chaim Zaklos, include a kosher deli and market alongside a commercial kosher kitchen. However, renovations haven’t even started yet, so everything is a ways away. The building might be ready to use by the High Holy Days, but the kitchen is at least a year off, the deli/market likely more.

Zaklos said it will be “Oakland Kosher Foods downsized by 10,” where people can buy fresh or packaged food. The nearest kosher food options, the rabbi said, are at a SaveMart supermarket in Sacramento, some 40 miles away.

“Everybody is very excited for kosher food,” Zaklos said. “But then again, the demand around here isn’t what it is in the bigger populated areas, so anything related to this will be a bit play-it-by-ear.”


MORE EATING: On Sunday, April 12, Jerusalem Grill and Bar in Campbell is celebrating Mimouna with a Moroccan sweets buffet, music and a belly-dancer show. Dinner will be served until 9 p.m., when the party ($15 per person) will start. An RSVP to (408) 866-2666 is recommended, or visit www.jerusalemgrillbar.com for more information. The certified kosher restaurant is located at 1740 S. Winchester Blvd. in Campbell.

Mimouna is a 24-hour celebration that marks the way the Moroccan Jewish community ends Passover and returns to eating hametz (leavened bread). Every spread includes mufleta — a pancake traditionally eaten warm and spread with butter, honey, syrup or jam. In the Bay Area, Mimouna has become a popular event for young Jewish adults.

Here are some additional celebrations, all including food: 8:30 to 11 p.m. Friday, April 10 at Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., S.F. Free. www.tinyurl.com/facebook-mimouna-emanuel … 4:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 10 at San Francisco State University, sponsored by San Francisco Hillel. Free, but for students only … 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. April 17 and 7:30 to 11 p.m. April 18 at Congregation Beth Sholom, 301 14th Ave., S.F. Prices vary. www.tinyurl.com/beth-sholom-mimouna.



Matzah ball soup has been as good as liquid gold during lunchtime at Shorty Goldstein’s in downtown San Francisco, as patrons gobbled down more than 100 orders on April 3, when Passover was still a few hours off. Then, on April 6, there was such a frenzy that the deli ran out of matzah balls for about 30 minutes. “It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to make ’em,” said owner-chef Michael Siegel, still a bit out of breath after catching up to the demand … This tweet just in from the folks over at Beauty’s Bagel Shop in Oakland: “We’re all out of matzah folks! Until next year! #passover” … After my list of restaurants with Passover dinners and/or menu items came out two weeks ago, a couple of others surfaced: Homestead in Oakland and Canela Bistro and Wine Bar in San Francisco are offering Passover selections through Saturday, April 11 … Passover dinner options through that same date are also available at Delfina in San Francisco and Saul’s Restaurant and Deli in Berkeley … According to SFGate.com’s Inside Scoop, chef Yoni Levy is leaving Alta CA this week “to pursue independent consulting projects.” Levy is widely praised, especially for his house-made pastrami and bialys, and his menu also has featured falafel, chicken schnitzel and a sandwich made with chopped liver, hazelnut butter and kumquat jam … Shorty Goldstein’s short run at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco (8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays) will end on April 25, but this summer, the deli is going to be part of the new Mission Rock Farmers Market, to be held Sunday mornings near AT&T Park, Siegel reports. It’s part of the newly launched Yard at Mission Rock pop-up village. “We’ve been invited and we’ve accepted, but all of the details are yet to come,” Siegel said … Last week, via Twitter and Facebook, Noah’s introduced its new “Smoked Salmon Bagel Smoothie” with a picture of a frosty pint glass filled with a thick, blended, very pink beverage. Yes, it was an April Fool’s Day joke … If your email inbox is overloaded with junk, as mine is, it’s always nice to see the subject line “Smoked Fish Has Landed” — a semi-regular mailing from Saul’s that includes information on the restaurant’s latest offerings. The most recent mailing listed whitefish, matjes herring, sable, pickled lox, smoked salmon belly, kippers, kippered salmon, herring rollmops, herring in wine and Bering ciscos (whitefish). To get on the mailing list, sign up for the enewsletter at www.saulsdeli.com and make sure to check the box for “Smoked Fish Society” … A lot of local food blogs come out with lists, and one place I see over and over is Tommy’s Joynt in San Francisco. Last week, the local food and culture guide 7×7 included the 68-year-old hofbrau’s brisket on its list of “Top 50 Spots for a Midday Meal in San Francisco.” Tommy’s Joynt’s barbecue beef brisket also landed on SF.Eater’s list of the area’s “15 Most Iconic Meat Dishes,” and Tommy’s also was on SF.Eater’s recent “Ultimate Pastrami Map,” which also included Rye Project, Wise Sons, Miller’s East Coast and Shorty Goldstein’s delis. — andy altman-ohr


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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.