Spring has returned. Honeysuckle will soon perfume the air again. And Fiddler on the Roof is back onstage. With such leg-kicking merriment also comes time to celebrate Passover, which in 2023 will run from April 5-13. From traditional seder dinners featuring readings of holiday scripts to a seder plate joint rolling tray, this list of the best places to either dine out or pick op dishes for your own gathering has something for everyone. Be sure to take note of the places where you can procure your own pavlova kit! An ideal sweet finale to any seder dinner or blunt rotation.
Please note: This list doesn’t cover every single East Bay market, deli and restaurant that is offering holiday fare. Consider this a vetted guide to our favorites, or a jumping off point for your Passover shopping.
Afikomen Judaica offers classic Passover staples, like handmade Shmurah matzah and halva-coated pecans, as well farcical delights like a dairy-free dark chocolate seder plate or this holiday rolling dish that’s, like, totally kosher, dude. Order online or stop by. Afikomen Judaica, 3042 Claremont Ave. (near Prince Street), Berkeley
Boichik Bagels is home of the best bagel in the country, according to the New York Times, as well as a new automated plant. While bagels are not allowed on the traditional Passover menu, Boichik also has a bounty of cream cheese spreads, which are great when slathered on unleavened breads. If I could choose just one spread, it would be the Pink Label whipped cream cheese. Light, springy, bouncy. Whipped cream cheese takes its rightful place as a god-tier texture within the canon of spreads. Boichik Bagels, 3170 College Ave. (near Alcatraz Avenue), Berkeley
Market Hall Foods has the be-all end-all of Passover dinner showstoppers: the Pavlova. The specialty food store, with locations in Berkeley and Oakland, sells two sizes of Pavlova, the dessert with a meringue base (tricky to make for novice bakers, despite what YouTube chefs claim), lemon curd, whipped chantilly cream and assorted berries.
To preface your puffed-up finale, be sure to check out Market Hall’s roasted lamb bone, long-cooked eggs, braised chicken with spring vegetables and a savory vegetable kugel. Orders must be placed by noon, at least 48 hours in advance of your preferred pickup date. Market Hall Foods’ Passover menu will be available in-store from Thursday, April 4 through Friday, April 7. Some items will be available through Thursday, April 13. (They’ll be closed on Sunday, Apr. 9.) Rockridge Market Hall, 5655 College Ave. (at Keith Avenue), Oakland; Market Hall on Fourth Street, 1786 Fourth St. (between Hearst Avenue and Virginia Street), Berkeley
Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen, one of the Bay Area’s best Jewish delis, offers its titular Seder at Saul’s dinner. The menu features a seder plate, matzah ball soup, a sans-jar gefilte fish (made of halibut, rock cod and salmon fish cake), chicken and vegan chopped liver, brisket, rockfish, bone-in chicken with Dukkah spices and apricot, and mujaddara (lentils, eggplant, fried onion, grain, greens and yogurt).
Don’t miss out on the dessert selection that includes citrus almond cake, flourless chocolate cake or sweet matzo kugel. All items can be ordered for catering or for dining in. Saul’s accepts first-come-first-served reservations for all nights of Passover. Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen, 1475 Shattuck Ave. (at Vine Street), Berkeley
Three Stone Hearth’s Passover menu features such staples as house-made chopped liver (wherein they poach livers in Three Stone Hearth’s own schmaltz, and then combined them with caramelized onions and Sonoma-farmed eggs), white bean and asparagus soup, bone broth-braised Marin Sun Farms brisket and a Sephardic charoset (made up of chopped dried fruit steeped in orange juice, then mixed with crispy walnuts). Don’t miss out on the Lithuanian chilled beet soup if only for its Lisa Frank-esuqe rosy hue. Online ordering begins Sunday April 2 for pickup and delivery at their brick-and-mortar store Wednesday-Saturday. Special early pickup for First Night Passover dinners available Wednesday April 5 from 3-4 p.m. Three Stone Hearth, 1581 University Ave. (at Sacramento Street), Berkeley
Bishulim’s chef Aliza Grayevsky Somekh will team up with Pomella this Passover for a collaboration on April 6. As she guides diners through the Passover script and story, the Pomella team will serve you a family-style meal of matzah ball soup, lamb meatball tagine, potato kugel, spring salad, stuffed artichokes and pistachio pavlova with rose-tinged whipped cream.
The unconventional seder will provide you a “great opportunity to liberate yourselves from Passover kitchen bondage and revisit the holiday with a contemporary eye,” Somekh noted. The meal will also feature Covenant Wines, a local kosher winery, to help get you nice and toasty. Space is limited so sign up early. Cost is $85. Bishulim x Pomella, 3770 Piedmont Ave. (at West Oakland Boulevard), Oakland
Grand Lake Kitchen’s famed matzo ball soup, featured in James Beard-award winning food writer Carolyn Jung’s East Bay Cooks tome, can be found at both Grand Lake Kitchen locations. Consider it a tip of the hat to Passover should you not want to go all out for a proper seder dinner. Grand Lake Kitchen, 576 Grand Ave. (at Euclid), Oakland; 2042 MacArthur Blvd. (at Dimond Avenue), Oakland
Pomella chef Mica Talmor, who will also take part in the aforementioned communal seder dinner on April 6, will offer her usual Cali-Israeli “everything but the plate” seder dinner, which includes charoset, hazeret, lamb shank bone, four hard-boiled eggs and matzah. While you’re at it, throw in the pistachio pavlova kit ($28) and rainbow carrot salad ($11). Pre-order by Thursday, March 30. Pickup is on April 4 and 5. Pomella, 3770 Piedmont Ave. (at West Oakland Boulevard), Oakland
Oakland Kosher Foods will help anyone who wants to prepare their seder dinner from scratch. This Lakeshore Avenue staple includes kosher meats, hummus, bakery treats, confections, drinks and more, all under the supervision of Vaad Hakashrus of Northern California. As you pop in to stock up on Passover goods, be sure to check out the store’s newest addition: Abba’s Hummus, a hummus bar and New York deli, featuring pita, pastrami and roast beef sandwiches. Oakland Kosher Foods, 3419 Lakeshore Ave. (at Mandana Boulevard), Oakland
Proposition Chicken’s crispy matzo ball soup, tomato cucumber salad and free-range rotisserie chicken offerings make for the ideal seder dinner — or any dinner, holiday date notwithstanding. Proposition Chicken, 3260 Lakeshore Ave. (at Lake Park Avenue), Oakland
Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen has a Passover meal kit, which can include either a brisket dinner or a roast chicken dinner, both of which serve six to eight people ($218 each). Meals come with spring vegetables, Nana’s potato kugel, matzo ball soup, charoset, a box of matzo and chocolate-caramel matzo.
Why, they even offer seder plate kit, featuring lamb shankbone, horseradish root, parsley, greens, egg, an orange, charoset and Marisal sea salt (“meant to fill the ceremonial seder plate, purely ornamental,” says Wise Sons). Orders must be placed by 9 a.m. two days prior to pickup or delivery. Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen, 1700 Franklin St. (at 17th Street), Oakland; Beauty’s Bagel Shop, 3838 Telegraph Ave. (between 38th and 40th streets), Oakland