Better Than Bubbe's

Wise Sons' chocolate babka, the delicatessen's gateway drug

We're not suggesting that a Jewish deli–or its patrons–can survive on babka alone.

But the chocolate dessert is a fine way to get acquainted with Wise Sons, which has been "popping up" at various locations throughout San Francisco every Saturday since January (you can currently find them Saturdays at Beast and the Hare).

The weekly menu changes frequently–corned beef sandwiches one week, bialys the next–but chef-owners Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman are wise enough to never remove the babka from the menu.

The babka is made with an egg- and butter-rich dough, similar to that of brioche. The dough encloses ribbons of cinnamon-scented bittersweet Guittard chocolate ganache, and powdered-sugar streusel dusts the top.

You can buy it by the slice ($3.50), half-loaf ($11) or full loaf ($20). Or, go for the gusto and order chocolate-babka French toast ($6 for one slice; $9 for two), which comes topped with macerated seasonal fruit and a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.

In keeping with the pioneering spirit of Wise Sons, the duo has also begun making caramel-chocolate babka, with a ribbon of Clairesquares caramel coursing through the dough.

This wretched excess may not fly with Grandma, but it's further proof that Wise Sons is a deli for a new era.

Wise Sons Deli, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. inside Beast and the Hare, 1001 Guerrero St. (at 22nd St.); 415-787-5534 or wisesonsdeli.com