Local Restaurants: The Junket


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As the days get shorter and colder, sometimes there’s nothing better than a warm bowl of soup to fill you up. The Junket, a small German and English cafe and delicatessen, is one of the best spots to get your soup fix on these colder days. Their wide array of European specialities — from candies, to deli meats, to beer — in addition to their delicious and filling food makes the cafe a unique spot for an easy and reliable lunch.

“The place is simple, really,” says Cindy Frisch, who owns the Junket with her husband. “We wanted to open a place where people could sit and relax and have a beer or glass of wine with a bite to eat.”

The couple opened the cafe and delicatessen back in 1979, and it just kind of took off, according to the owner. 

“We didn’t really know what to expect,” Frisch says with a little laugh. “We found that a lot of people wanted the goods we offered, so we kept expanding, and people kept coming for them.”

German potato chips, teas, marmite, liters of German beers, and even German advent calendars stuff the shelves of the small cafe. Talking with Frisch, she points out one new product after another, many of which they stocked at the suggestion of their regular customers. 

A new customer could easily spend an entire hour perusing the German and English specialities available at The Junket, but for the most enjoyable experience it’s advisable to come during an off peak hour, as the main shopping area can get very crowded during lunch — and for good reason.

The Junket has a good selection of sandwiches from the familiar corned beef and pastrami, to blood tongue and gelbwurst for those looking for a more authentically German meal. The cafe also has a revolving soup of the day, which was vegetable stew when I stopped in. 

The soup came in a sizable portion and was filled with chewy mushroom, crunch broccoli, green beans, minuscule pieces of cauliflower, and barley in a peppery broth. It was a fairly simple dish, which is fitting with both German and English cuisines, but it hit just the right notes on a chilly day. Paired with a chunk of baguette, the soup is surprisingly filling.

For a cafe and delicatessen, The Junket has a surprisingly spacious and comfortable seating area, which is larger than that of many local restaurants, in fact. The comfy wooden chairs lend themselves to getting comfortable in and taking advantage of exactly what the owners wanted when they opened the restaurants — sitting back, enjoying a glass of wine, and taking a moment to enjoy a good meal.  

The Junket is about simple pleasures done right. A nice, filling bowl of soup, a well crafted beer, and unique novelty snacks of all sorts. For the past 36 years the Frischs have made their cafe and delicatessen one of the best local spots for such an experience, and it looks as if that wont be changing any time soon.

 

The Junket
235 El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito
Tel. (510) 524-4622 

Business Hours
Monday - Friday: 8:30 am to 6 pm
Saturday: 8:30 am to 5 pm
Sunday: Closed 

View their website here

Photo: Yelp

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  • commented 2015-11-20 14:10:10 -0800
    The Junket is truly a one-of-a-kind place. It’s not often that you will find a family-run business these days. I remember when my parents (Bruno – ‘aus Deutschland’ and Cindy – a British/Jamaican) opened the European Delicatessen/Café in 1979. They left their corporate jobs and ventured into “unknown territory”. Actually they were familiar with “unknown territory” – Engaged the night they met, (despite language differences, and the fact that their respective countries had destroyed one another), they emigrated to North America with practically nothing and knowing no one. "San Francisco, open your Golden Gate. You’ll let nobody wait outside your door” – Those song lyrics eventually rang true for them, (they did have to “wait outside the door” in Canada for a couple years until California let them in).

    Bruno and Cindy are now in their mid eighties. They have been happily married for 58 years. They love to work! and have been doing so together at The Junket every week for 36 years.They say it keeps them young. Cindy still handles the entire business-end of ‘The Junket’, and of course you will also see her running all over the place, chatting with customers, taking orders, bussing tables, donating to causes… And Bruno?…well despite not being able to hear (…he will tell you that he lost his hearing due to the bombing of his hometown in Germany…by yes…the Americans), handles customer-to-go transactions at his cash register with the utmost care, “NO… you MUST take a napkin! with your sandwich!”. He also vacuums the entire place, lifting up all those wooden chairs to the tops of the tables (next to his own hand-hewn napkin holders)…every night. And, he drives all over the bay area in his big truck picking up fresh produce and other supplies from the same vendors he has dealt with for 36 years. The Junket is a success due to Bruno and Cindy’s hard work, but lest we not forget the devoted employees, “the Junketeers”, as well.

    Yes it’s “Just another day in Paradise Bündnerfleisch…” at The Junket.

    So here’s to Mom and Pop Stores everywhere. May they continue to prosper.

    xo – Schatzie, the Renegade Deli Heiress
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