Jacob, a Portland-raised chef, worked at Elephants Delicatessen as a teenager before moving to New York to pursue film. After years of frequenting legendary delis like Barney Greengrass and Russ & Daughters, he decided to pursue Jewish cuisine professionally, working at California’s deli staple Wise Sons before starting an Oregon supper club with his wife, Dori. The supper clubs became a hit in Portland, and the two started working on a full-scale deli with house-cured meats and fish, a bakery, and a robust retail deli program. While all of the above is true of the new space, actual dine-in service is on hold indefinitely; instead, the deli is available for online pickup and delivery orders only, with walk-in orders and a breakfast menu coming in a few weeks.
“There were too many obstacles to get the inside done for dine-in,” Jacob says. “It became really cost-prohibitive.”
Even with its takeout-only setup, Jacob & Sons is showing an exciting amount of promise, with soulful matzo ball soup, stellar pickles, and more. The full offerings include pastrami and chopped liver by the pound, pastrami lox and smoked sable, whitefish salad, potato knishes, and chocolate babka. Below, we dig into some of the highlights for your next visit:
Matzo ball soup
Jacob & Sons may make the city’s finest matzo ball soup, packed with dill, a pristine broth, and hulking — but still fluffy in texture — matzo balls. The chef says his secret is a touch of ginger. “It brings out the chicken flavor in the soup,” he says. “It makes it more chicken-y.”
Reubens here come with a few options: corned beef, pastrami, smoked turkey, or smoked mushroom, all layered on house-made rye bread with house kraut, Swiss, and “USSR dressing.” This is a strong, strong Reuben: Saucy and cheesy and not-at-all dry, enclosed in a perfectly toasted rye. Opt for the “dreamy” pastrami, in the words of Eater Portland freelancer Daniel Barnett; the corned beef is also tender and flavorful.
Pickles — in particular half-sours
Jacob & Sons currently offers three different pickles: half-sours, full-sours, and green tomatoes, all exceptional. We particularly like the half-sours, which remain oddly difficult to find in Portland outside of grocery stores; they are crunchy, salty, with plenty of garlic and dill, fermented without vinegar.
Some may be surprised to hear that the potato salad at Jacob & Sons is actually vegan — all that creaminess is just a blend of tossed potatoes and olive oil. The use of Yukon Golds gives the potatoes a nice sweetness, balanced with both capers and lemon juice; shocking no one, based on the previous items in this list, Jacob goes heavy on the fresh dill here, as he should.
Jacob & Sons is located at 337 NW Broadway; those interested can order online.