AL’s Place rocketed to the top of “Best of” lists when it opened in 2015, garnering attention for chef Aaron London’s vegetable-focused menu that relegated meat to the sidelines. Four years later the chef is opening a second Mission restaurant on July 17: AL’s Deli, a casual restaurant serving a mash-up of Jewish deli and California cuisines. It’s going into a prime Mission location at 598 Guerrero St (at 18th), in the former location of Yuzuki.
Like London’s flagship restaurant, the menu at the deli takes inspiration from all over, though its main influences stem from travels in Israel and time spent living in Montreal, where the chef became a regular at legendary Schwartz’s Deli. Some childhood food nostalgia is at play, too: London says he grew up eating falafel and hummus thanks to his “hippie parents in West Sonoma County,” and some traditional Jewish food items (though latkes were usually reserved for Hanukkah, he says).
Before opening AL’s Place, London spent time at Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant Ubuntu in Napa (now closed), where he became executive chef after the departure of Jeremey Fox. That focus on vegetables will continue on at the deli, though smokey brisket will be taking a front seat, too.
“We’re taking inspiration from East coast deli, but Jewish deli more specifically, combining that with Israeli street food.”
“We in no way are trying to present ourselves as authentically or traditionally a jewish deli or Israeli food,” says London. “It’s not our goal and it would be presumptuous to say that, but we are strongly studying and taking inspiration in order to create a really awesome product with those flavors.”
That translates to a concise menu starring smokey brisket (a riff on Montreal’s famous smoked meat), falafel, shawarma spiced chicken, and blistered eggplant and cauliflower, available as pita sandwiches, salads, or platters.
An entire section is labeled “crispy, crunchy things,” and includes falafel corn dog bites come with a side of mayo infused with amba made from stone fruit (rather than the traditional mango), and potato “hot pockets” filled with either smoked salmon and cream cheese, or avocado and grapefruit. There will be hummus, of course, and a slew of condiments like green tahini, amba, and schug (a garlicky hot sauce with a base of parsley and cilantro). There’ll also be beer and wine for sipping while watching 18th Street traffic from the restaurant’s 17-foot high windows.
“I don’t know if it’s so many years in fine dining but I just want to cook something super delicious that’s super easy for people to come and eat,” says London.
When it opens July 17, it’ll serve lunch and dinner from 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. seven days a week, with delivery and pickup via Caviar (an ideal Dolores Park picnic opportunity).