Lately, one of my favorite things to do is to head over to Cortland just as I’m getting hungry. Once there, I like to wander up and down the street while allowing the fantastic variety of foodie delights to tempt my palate. Recently, however, I find myself gravitating toward Paulie’s Pickling in the gourmet marketplace at 331 Cortland, and for a very good reason: Paulie’s may be the best Jewish deli in San Francisco.
Of course, you’d hardly know it from the name, which highlights Paulie’s roots as a glamorous purveyor of fine gourmet pickles. And indeed, the pickles are super-delicious. But since they set up shop on Cortland, Paulie’s menu has expanded to include some of the finest Jewish deli sandwiches and sides one is likely to find this side of Crown Heights.
There are no bagels, mind you. (Not yet, at least.) But the beef brisket sandwich is juicy perfection squeezed between two slices of rye — and you can even get it with chopped liver if you’re feeling extra-adventurous. There’s also corned beef, house-cured lox, and that rarest-of-rare treats on the West Coast: kick-ass whitefish salad.
This was my brisket sandwich, which came stuffed with yummy homemade cole slaw:
And this was a lox sandwich served open-faced on a baguette:
They’ll even make you a gen-u-ine old-school egg cream:
All of it is superb, and it’s a shame that more people aren’t clued in to this hidden gem. My hunch is that name may be part of the problem: Though pickles remain Paulie’s signature product, the business has expanded to become much, much more, as proprietors Paul and Elizabeth Ashby have curated a simple but perfectly executed collection of house-made Jewish foods. Yum!
My advice: Stop calling it Paulie’s Pickling. Start calling it Paulie’s Pickling and Deli, visit often, and savor every bite.
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