Jewish Food in Sonoma County for Passover and Beyond
When spring starts springing, it's a sure sign that the Jewish holiday of Passover is on its way. Just like Chanukah, Passover traditionally lasts eight days, and in 2023 (the Jewish year 5783), it will start the evening of Wednesday, April 5 and end at sundown on Thursday, April 13.
Those who observe Passover celebrate with ritual seder meals on the first two nights, avoiding breads in favor of unleavened matzoh (also spelled matzo and matzah) crackers. This takes carb-y delights such as bagels briefly off the table, but the holiday is so full of traditional foods and dishes, they're barely missed.
Sonoma County is home to eight Jewish congregations, and even without a holiday, Jewish foods are treasured by locals. Read on to discover (rather than, um, pass over) the best spots for Jewish food in Sonoma County.
Grossman's Noshery & Bar, Santa Rosa
When a whole section of the menu is called "Bubbie's Favorites," you know you're at a real Jewish restaurant. Opened during the pandemic by the local Stark Reality restaurant group, Grossman's is Sonoma County's newest hotspot for house-made Jewish specialties. Their matzoh ball soup, aptly named "The Big Piece of Chicken," can be made Passover-possible by omitting its usual noodles.
Other seder-friendly (and Bubbie-approved) offerings include brisket, stuffed cabbage, and quinoa tabbouleh. Grossman's bagels, challah, rye, and pastry specials like hamentachen are baked on-site; the luscious lox is house-cured; traditional deli sandos include housemade whitefish salad; and healthy side-dish alternatives include an Israeli salad of dukkah-sprinkled tomatoes and cucumbers.
Mac's Deli & Cafe, Santa Rosa
Owned and operated by the Soltani family since 1970, this is Sonoma County's oldest Jewish deli, offering a friendly neighborhood vibe. Renowned for their pastrami reuben (on rye, of course), they also offer locally made pumpernickel, bagels, and sourdough, and make a mean corned beef hash. Breakfast is packed with a trove of omelettes and scrambles, and if you're avoiding hametz (leavened foods) for Passover, keep it kosher by asking for any of their sandwiches served on lettuce instead of bread.
Chabad Jewish Center, Santa Rosa
Looking for a kosher caterer? You'll find an authentic one at this Orthodox center in South Santa Rosa, which handles off-site events both big and small, plus their signature Kosher Wine Country Travel Experience. Offerings include chicken (roasted or boneless), rib steak, or salmon served with rice and veggies, a large challah, and even kosher wine. For more info, check out their order form, send an email to Altie at [email protected] or call 707-577-0277.
Chabad Jewish Center, Petaluma
All are invited to the Community Seder held on Wednesday, April 5th, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. by the Chabad Jewish Center of Petaluma. So that everyone feels welcome, the seder will be English-friendly. The price is $54 per adult, $36 per child.
Sonoma Valley Bagel & Cafe, Rohnert Park
This laid-back spot honors the traditional bagel: Kettle-boiled and baked, but never steamed. The house specialty is the "eggel," a bagel sandwich topped with scrambled eggs and cheese, plus a slew of tasty topping choices. The lox is nova, and cream cheese flavors include chives, garlic & herb, and salmon. For those craving a Passover treat, indulge in the coconut macaroons, either plain or studded with chocolate chips.
The Bagel Mill, Petaluma
After graduating from NYU and moving to Sonoma County, Sebastopol native Glenda Doughtery missed New York-style bagels so much, she started milling her own flour and making them herself. For a Bay Area twist, her bagels are fermented with a sourdough starter. She offers a full menu of bagel sandwiches, as well as bialys (Fridays only), bagel dogs (Saturdays only), rugelach, and more. Highlights include seasonal-flavor cream cheese spreads and a marble-rye everything bagel (Saturdays only), and for Passover only, Matzo Toffee Bark coated with Guittard chocolate.
Healdsburg Bagel Company, Healdsburg
In 2018, Healdsburg local Drew Ross started Healdsburg Bagel Company in his garage, but has since moved his business to a bustling off-site bakery, providing New York-style bagels and more to delis, cafes, farmers markets, and grocery stores throughout the county.
Offering both pickup and delivery, HBC's "Drewish Deli" menu includes bagel dogs, bagel chips, knishes, bialys, and house-made lox and pastrami. And so that you shouldn't go hungry, round out your seder table with a few quarts of matzoh ball soup.