Hey, remember at the beginning of the pandemic, when everyone said this year would be a Passover unlike any others? Well, here we still are, hunkering down at home, and maybe even more in need of comfort and light. Hanukkah runs from December 10 to 18, and per tradition, many restaurants, delis, and bakeries will be celebrating with special menus and items, from big family spreads to the littlest chocolate coins.
If you’d prefer to braise your own brisket, these butcher shops wrap up quality cuts, and the new Wise Sons cookbook has a bubbie-approved recipe. But if you’d rather leave the deep-frying to somebody else, there are golden latkes and doughnuts to be found. Here’s where to feast during the festival of lights, even in this dark year.
The Bay Area’s ubiquitous modern Jewish deli is boxing up a complete family meal, featuring challah, latkes, roasted brisket, Brussels sprouts and delicata squash, and sufganiyah (jelly doughnuts, of course). At $150, it generously feeds four people. Smaller groups can also order directly from the full catering menu, which includes the deli favorites, like a pint of smoked trout or pound of pastrami.
This old-school institution in Berkeley has a full menu for the holiday, served up deli-style with latkes by the dozen, noodle kugel by the pan, braised brisket and chicken, and blintzes, babka, and sufganiyah. And while they may kvetch about getting orders in early, they also very kindly offer curbside pickup for senior citizens.
After winning Thanksgiving with a TV turkey dinner, Bi-Rite grocery is back at it with more holiday meals. A brisket TV dinner stands in solidarity with solo diners and includes brisket, rosemary potatoes, and glazed carrots for only $19.99. But there’s also brisket by the pound, as many or as few latkes as you like, and chocolate-almond rugelach.
The hot Cal-Italian restaurant has consistently been serving up satisfying family meals, and the holidays are no exception. They’re boxing up latkes, beet salad, roasted chicken, challah, and gelt, which serves four people for $200. But it’s worth throwing in a chocolate-hazelnut babka.
Delfina is known for their duck fat–fried latkes this time of year. At the original location in the Mission, there will be fresh latkes by the dozen, topped with pear-quince preserves and creme fraiche, available for pickup on December 10 and 11. Plus, there are freezer latkes popping up in Marin, a prime rib dinner with latkes for Palo Alto, and all locations will have frozen latkes for stocking up.
The pasta and pizza destination in the Richmond is adding a number of festive items to the regular menu, and rounding them all up in a reheatable dinner for two, which includes latkes with apple-quince butter, matzo ball soup, brisket with chestnut jus, sweet and sour cabbage, and mini chocolate babka for $75.
One Market launched a New York–style deli during the pandemic, so now, in addition to meaty sandwiches, it’s primed to serve brisket. The holiday menu is three courses for $49 per person, which include matzo ball soup, smoked brisket, and apple-honey cake. It does cost $10 more to add on latkes, as if that was optional.
The Spanish tapas spot in the Castro has another set menu for $65 per person, starring latkes, matzo ball soup, chicken roulade, apple and pear blintzes, chocolate gelt, and candy dreidels. It’s $20 more to add on brisket, but again, why would you not want brisket?
The Cal-Israeli restaurant in Oakland has been working tirelessly to meet takeout expectations. For the holiday, a family meal for four people costs $180, and includes matzo ball soup, brisket tagine, freezer latkes, and ricotta fritters.
20th Century Cafe
The grand cafe of Hayes Valley always puts out an array of old-world European treats, including some of the best sourdough bagels in the city. Pastry chef Michelle Polzine is featuring sufganiyot, rugelach, Meyer lemon cheesecakes, strudel filled with sweet cheese, and Hungarian pogacsa (savory scones) with sheep’s milk cheese and herbs.
The sufganiyot have gone wild at the only kosher bakery in San Francisco, with a mix of a half a dozen inventive new flavors, pumped jelly, chocolate, and flavored creams, and decked with crushed nuts, cookies, and coconut, inspired by everything from halva to bubble gum. There’s even a new savory doughnut filled with cream cheese and piled with scallions.
Fancy menus aside, there is always the simple joy and deep-fried glory of a good jelly doughnut. And Bob’s is arguably the fan favorite, serving warm rounds pumped with raspberry or lemon jam and glazed or dusted with sugar.