The Jewish High Holidays are falling on the early side this year, but procrastinators need not worry, as a plethora of Berkeley and Oakland bakeries, caterers and restaurants are ready to fill your table with golden challah, juicy brisket and moist honey cake.
Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) starts on the evening of Sept. 15 and concludes Sept. 17, while Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement, which includes fasting from sundown to sundown) starts the evening of Sept. 24 and concludes Sept. 25. Since the dates are based on the Hebrew Calendar, the holidays move year to year and Yom Kippur often does not arrive until October.
One traditional holiday item is challah made in a round shape, instead of the standard oblong braided loaf, to symbolize the continuous cycle of life, or as some believe, a year of blessings.
Here is a round-up of spots that make the holiday planning and preparation easier. Order all the dishes, breads and desserts you need from one of the full-service restaurants below, or mix-and-match for a choose-your-own-adventure from course to course.
Please note: This list doesn’t cover every single East Bay market, deli and restaurant offering holiday fare. Consider this a vetted guide to our favorites, or a jumping off point for your High Holidays shopping. If a place you love is missing from our list, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Owner and founder Iliana Berkowitz and her team turn out an assortment of breads and pastries that have garnered national recognition. For the holidays As Kneaded’s menu includes three different styles of challah, plain, rasin and poppyseed, and a cinnamon-apple-walnut babka. The bakery is also offering a $30 Rosh Hashanah Kit with one plain round challah, one jar of honey from Sweet Serendipity and 2 lbs. of apples from Hidden Star Orchards. Pre-order is open now and pickup is Sept. 15. As Kneaded Bakery, 585 Victoria Court, San Leandro.
Market Hall has pre-orders available for both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and the menu has a range of options including matzo ball soup, challah, chopped liver, harissa-and-maple-roasted carrots, a savory kugel with potatoes, carrots and zucchini, and grilled salmon. To satisfy the sweet-toothed celebrators, there is also a sweet kugel with pineapple, rugelach, apple strudel and spiced honey cake. Rosh Hashanah pre-orders close at noon, Sept. 12 for pick-up Sept. 13-17. Yom Kippur pre-orders close noon on Sept. 22 for pickup Sept. 23-25. Additionally, the holiday menu items will be available in-store Sept. 13-17 for Rosh Hashanah and Sept. 23-25 for Yom Kippur. Rockridge Market Hall, 5655 College Ave. (at Shafter Avenue), Oakland; Market Hall on Fourth Street, 1786 Fourth St. (at Delaware Street), Berkeley
The Bay Area’s only independent kosher butcher doesn’t exactly advertise a High Holiday menu, but you do really have to when you’ve been serving the local Jewish community for more than 60 years? The market and deli offers all of the Kosher goods, including a variety of meats, needed to make your own festive feast, and they also offer catering services and carry a selection of wine. Oakland Kosher Foods, 3419 Lakeshore Ave. (at Longridge Road), Oakland
Known for its creamy hummus and bright plates of salmon, chicken, lamb combining Middle Eastern flavors with a focus on local ingredients, Pomella’s holiday menu includes chopped liver using chef/owner Mica Talmor’s grandmother’s recipe, Bastilla, a sweet-and-savory Morroccan pie with leeks and spinach, and Fesenjan, a Persian pomegranate chicken stew. Along with their own honey apple cake they are also offering chocolate babka from Dana Koschitzky, the baker and pastry chef behind Napa’s The Tish. (As Kneaded’s challahs are also available for purchase through Pomella.) Pre-ordering is open now through Sept. 13 with pickup options on Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. Pomella, 3770 Piedmont Ave. (near MacArthur Boulevard), Oakland
The deli and restaurant in North Berkeley has a Rosh Hashanah menu chock full of the the standards, including challah (plain or raisin), matzo ball soup, gefilta fish, chopped chicken liver, braised brisket, and kugel. Additional mains include a chicken dukkah with peaches and figs, whole rockfish with tomato and pepper jam, and pumpkin and chickpea stew with couscous. Pre-order is open now and pickup is available on Sept. 14, 15 and 16. Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen, 1475 Shattuck Ave. (at Vine Street), Berkeley
Starter bakery has a selection of special items for the high holidays, including the traditional round challah. Other offerings include a raisin challah, a honey-glazed apple pie, a honey cake and chocolate babka. Items will be available for pre-order online, with pick up on Sept. 15 for Rosh Hashanah. For Yom Kippur the holiday specials will be available for pickup Sept. 22-24. Starter Bakery, 901 Gilman St., Berkeley and 5804 College Ave, Oakland.
A worker cooperative and the nation’s first community-supported kitchen, Three Stone Hearth‘s menu includes chicken and vegetable soup, brisket from grassfed beef, baba ghanoush, chopped liver, Lithuanian chilled beet soup, a Tuscan white bean soup with kale and escarole and additional side dishes. Orders are taken up to 8 a.m. on Sept. 16 and the food is available for both pickup and delivery. Three Stone Hearth, 1581 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94703
The Jewish deli offers a classic menu of High Holiday staples, both hearty items for celebrating on Rosh Hashanah and quickly-prepared dished for breaking fast on Yom Kippur. Along with the challah, matzo ball soup, chopped chicken liver, kugel and babka, Wise Sons is offering a roasted brisket and a stone fruit-glazed roast chicken. On the quick and cold side, the menu includes cold cuts, bagel platters and a selection of smoked fish and other pre-prepared items. Pickup is available at the Wise Sons downtown Oakland location, Beauty’s Bagels, and during special holiday pop-up times at Jewish congregations across the Bay Area. Orders must be placed by 9 a.m. two days prior to the day of pick-up. Wise Sons Deli, 1700 Franklin St. (at 17th Street), Oakland; Wise Sons Deli at Beauty’s Bagel Shop Temescal, 3838 Telegraph Ave. (at West McArthur Boulevard), Oakland
Additional places to find challah or honey cakes in Berkeley and Oakland:
Afikomen Judaica 3042 Claremont Ave. (near Prince Street), Berkeley
Arizmendi 3265 Lakeshore Ave. (near Grand Avenue), Oakland
Fournee Bakery 2912 Domingo Ave. (at Russell Street), Berkeley
Grand Bakery 3033 MacArthur Blvd. (between Maple Avenue and Laurel Avenue), Oakland
La Farine 6323 College Ave. (at Alcatraz Avenue), Berkeley; 4094 Piedmont Ave. (at 41st Street), Oakland; and 3411 Fruitvale Ave. (at Bienati Way), Oakland
Mariposa Baking Company 5427 Telegraph Ave., D3 (at 55th Street), Oakland
Nabolom Bakery 2708 Russell St. (at College Avenue), Berkeley