A San Francisco Tour With Wise Sons: Where to Find Jewish and Eastern European Comfort Food

[Photos: Summer Sewell]

Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman opened Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen in the Mission to give San Francisco a dose of the deli culture we'd been missing. "We sucked at first. But we knew we could be better than what's out there," Evan said. And Wise Sons is better, by far.

Evan and Leo started cooking together in 2003 for UC Berkeley's Jewish student center. They soon grew a weekly flock of 250 students and after graduation continued feeding friends in their backyards. By January 2011, they were popping-up in San Francisco cafes and at a Ferry Building farmer's market stand once a week before opening their brick-and-mortar in February 2012.

They don't have a deli counter, or bagels every day, and they occasionally hear the "How can you be a deli without tongue?" argument (their menu does actually feature brined tongue from time to time). What they do have is a solid commitment to old-school deli charm and integrity, making their pickles and spreads in-house, baking their selection of daily breads, curing and smoking all their own meat, including their seven-day-brined pastrami. If lines out the door aren't enough proof that the masses are mostly pleased, Bon Appetit Magazine named them one of the best Jewish delis in the nation last fall—and they've barely been open a full year.

But where do they go for borscht and bagels? Wise Sons is a tribute to Evan and Leo's common food heritage, so we spent an afternoon gathering up the tastes of their childhoods. We shopped for food staples and ate at go-to local joints that remind them of mealtime with their bubbes.

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Check out our tour, where we found borscht, bagels, pastrami, and so much more.