What's a bialy? You must not be from New York or L.A. A bialy is an Eastern European yeasted bread product, akin to but not quite like a bagel, that has an indentation in the center typically filled with onions. At the new mid-Market restaurant Alta CA, chef Yoni Levi has incorporated a number of Jewish deli-inspired items into his menu, including a stellar, incredibly delicious bialy.
The dish comes with two smallish bialys and a schmear of house-made cream cheese, and though it might be enough for two people as a cocktail snack (the cocktails here are pretty great too), you may want to consider more than one order.
The filling in these bialys is an umami-rich, darkly caramelized mixture of onions and poppy seeds that's unlike any bialy filling I've ever had. It's like the Platonic ideal of umami, hitting sweet, savory, and earthy notes all at once, with flavors of mushroom, balsamic vinegar, and chocolate tannins all in the mix.
Alta CA is the newest restaurant in the local empire of chef and restaurateur Daniel Patterson, who also owns Coi in North Beach, and Plum, Plum Bar, and Haven in Oakland. And in addition to the bialys, check out other Jewish-inspired stuff like house-made pastrami, smoked trout with beet and horseradish, and dill pickle deviled eggs.
Alta CA - 1420 Market Street, between Polk and Van Ness