Stay Gold Delicatessen
The name is a bit of a misnomer, as it isn’t a deli in any traditional sense, but a BBQ joint that specializes in sandwiches. It reminds me of funky places you used to find all over San Francisco and Oakland before the now obligatory interior designers and cocktail “programs.” It sits on a forlorn block of San Pablo in Oakland and you can smell the smokey BBQ from a block away. It has a funky interior with booths, records on the walls, several pinball machines and an outdoor patio. I got the Texas Brisket Cubano, listed as a “permanent special” and damn was it a flavor bomb. Tender, peppery smokey brisket, nice acidic mustard and vinegary pickles to cut through the fat, slice of ham and Swiss, on a crusty pressed roll. One of the best sandwiches I’ve had in a long while.
Stay Gold Delicatessen
You jogged my memory! I remember when the BBQ place had just opened up in the old Stay Gold Deli space, and we stopped in just to look. The counter guys were eager for us to try the brisket and gave us a generous sample.
Interestingly, I’m not a big brisket fan, mostly because most beef in CA is so lean and dry it’s like sawdust. But this brisket was very juicy and tender, without having big strips of fat (Spouse loathes any visible fat, unfortunately).
It was spiced a little differently than most BBQ brisket, I thought. We were on our way to the nearby Ethiopian restaurant for lunch so we never did go back. But nice to hear they are still around and that you have given them a thumbs-up!
Ah so that explains the name. Was it a regular deli before and they took over and kept the name?
The brisket is indeed first rate. I just read that Stay Gold’s branch on Shattuck closed (now Snail bar), so I hope this location gets some love. They really know how to put together a sandwich, which, oddly, seems to be a shortcoming in the Bay Area.
This looks great! I’m excited to try it. Do they actually smoke their meat?
What a wonderful tip, thanks! I’ll be sure to follow up—. I frequently pass them when using the traffic shortcut of 27th St.-> Grand Ave->SF.
Yep, says they smoke it daily.
Stay Gold opened in 2016 and took over the space that had been used by a bbq place called Shuga Hill that had closed in about 2012. The name Stay Gold comes from a line in the movie The Outsiders based on the S. E. Hinton novel of the same name: “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.”
I think that Stay Gold used the same smoker that was left over from the Shuga Hill days. The former operator of Shuga joined with renowned Burmese chef William Lue to start short-lived Brothers Kitchen a few blocks away at San Pablo Ave and 30th Street which served soul food and Burmese dishes,
Luke Tsai did 2 favorable columns about Stay gold for the East Bay Express.
Stay gold on Check Please from last year for about 6 minutes starting at 2:07
Stay Gold Deli
2635 San Pablo Ave.
Interesting, thanks @zippo1 !
From the older articles, it appears that they’ve definitely veered heavily into a BBQ focused place. I didn’t get the East coast Italian deli vibe at all.
I think that Luke’s first article in May 2016 , the East Coast deli one, was done during the first week of a soft opening and before Stay Gold was able to start up the bbq operation. His second article in July, Stay Gold was still in a soft opening and the kinks in the smoker had not yet been fully worked out. When I first went in, maybe April or May 2016, it was in the deli sandwich and corner grocery phase. I had been watching progress on the site for months as I passed it often while riding on the AC Transit 72 San Pablo Ave bus. The closing of Genova Deli and the food desert of West Oakland were frequent topics of discussion at that time.
I have pictures from 2016 if i can find them.
FYI, for a surprisingly good Italian deli experience, I recommend Gambino’s at 2 Embarcadero Center in SF (California Street just south of Clay). You can get your sandwiches “West Coast” (mayo & mustard) or “East Coast” style (no mayo, lots of oil & vinegar). This homesick New Yorker loves the Italian Special done East Coast style.
Thanks for the tip, I love a good Italian combo. My office is near Molinari’s so I usually get it there, but nice to know about other options around town - Gambino’s wasn’t on my radar.
Stopped by here last week for lunch; got the spicy BBQ brisket sandwich and a beer. Great little dive with outdoor seating. The brisket was more shredded and swimming in sauce, but it was still pretty delicious. I pulled out some pieces of brisket to try on their own and I did get some decent smoke flavor. The bread had panini press prints on it, I would have preferred it as just a straight hoagie roll. I think I’ll try the BBQ on its own next time. But looking forward to a return visit.
Actually, it comes from S.E. Hinton’s book, The Outsiders, and the phrase is a reference to Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” which is a pivotal theme in the book.
As an early teen, I read and reread and reread The Outsiders (didn’t learn it was made into a movie until I was in my 20s). Can still quote the opening line … “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight, from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”
Anyway. Sorry for the thread derailment.
To bring my comment back to food, one of the main characters is named Sodapop.
Yeah I was thinking I want to try the BBQ own its own next time too.
I lived in Tulsa when they were shooting The Outsiders. They would often set up outside early morning shoots the night before, so we would go snoop around the sets and sit in Coppola’s director chair. S.E. Hinton still lives there.
And she’s active on Twitter!