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Photograph: Patricia Kelly Yeo for Time OutSmögen Appetizers

The best bagels in Los Angeles

Sesame or plain? Schmear or butter? We found L.A.'s very best bagels, however you like to enjoy ’em.

Patricia Kelly Yeo
Edited by
Patricia Kelly Yeo
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OK, listen: Bagels are considered the purview of the East Coast, and Angelenos supposedly have no business rolling, baking and boiling our own bagels. Happily for the residents of this great city, that assumption is dead wrong. Though not as ubiquitous as those in NYC and Philly, some of L.A.’s bagels are world-class—despite the jibber-jabber of clueless tourists and East Coast transplants. Our city’s deep-rooted Jewish community has paved the way for bagel shops to thrive here, ensuring that we all have access to these circular, yeast-risen breakfast breads, whether served plain, toasted, schmeared for breakfast or as the bookends of a sandwich. From a roving food truck serving bagel sandos to a cult favorite operating out of a window in Highland Park, here are our favorite bagels in the city.

L.A.’s best bagels, ranked

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Virgil Village
  • price 1 of 4

This always-busy Virgil Village bagel shop slings wild-yeasted, Montreal-style bagels with flavor, texture and presentation noteworthy enough to grab the East Coast's attention via the New York Times. In our humble opinion, the bagels are worth waking up early in the morning for, especially for anyone who considers themselves a true bagel aficionado. Slightly burnt, slightly chewy and barely sweet, they’re crispier and thinner than your standard New York style—all the better to throw on farmers’ market veggies like heirloom tomatoes and sustainably farmed lox. Just be warned that the wait can get gnarly later in the mornings, especially on the weekends.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4

With all the anticipation of a Fairfax Avenue sneaker drop, sleepy patrons line up outside this Highland Park bagel operation early on weekend mornings, hoping to score one of the shop’s signature, double-fermented bagels, which are smaller and denser than what most bagel lovers might be used to. Coming in standard flavors like everything, onion and plain, Belle’s also offers a unique cacio e pepe bagel dusted in pecorino cheese and pepper. With high-quality cream cheese in beet, scallion, lox and vegan cashew varieties, plus delicious, hefty bagel sandwiches with must-try spicy tomato jam, it’s no wonder people line up at Belle’s most days of the week. (Planners can skip the line and place an order online the day before.)

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Santa Monica
  • price 2 of 4

Located in Santa Monica’s Ocean Park neighborhood, this small storefront is helping meet the city’s overflowing demand for Montreal-style bagels. Though lines are, for now, nowhere as long as the more eastward Courage Bagels, those hoping for a taste of Layla’s delicious open-face creations should arrive early and anticipate at least a half-hour wait to order. Once at the counter, you’ll find a mix of savory and sweet options like the must-order Pre-Jam (seasonal fruit, cream cheese and honey), plus coffee and a small “not bagels” section that includes muffins, challah bread and overnight oats.

  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
  • Burbank
  • price 1 of 4

L.A.’s homegrown bagel mini-chain has been making some of the best in the business since 1958. With 11 locations (mostly in the San Fernando Valley, except for an outpost within West L.A.’s Colony ghost kitchen), the family-owned Western Bagel is often cited as an essential piece of L.A. food culture. The bagels are soft and light, and, when served with a heaping helping of cream cheese, are almost in danger of folding over, even when toasted. Extremely L.A. bagel options, including low-carb and sprouted wheat options, complement a decidedly less health-conscious lunch menu, including a full line of Boar’s Head cold cuts and in-store roasted and thick sliced turkey breasts.

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  • Restaurants
  • Swedish
  • Studio City
  • price 2 of 4

For anyone craving fish for breakfast, the crackly, naturally leavened sourdough bagels at this weekend-only brunch pop-up (Fri 8am–2pm; Sat, Sun 7am–2pm) at Vintage Wines + Eats in Studio City are simply divine. Each thoughtfully constructed open-faced bagel—available by the half or whole—comes topped with your choice of cream cheese and high-quality seafood, including a standout tuna poke, a straightforward whitefish salad and, of course, smoked salmon. A few non-fish options including avocado and heirloom tomato, plus a bacon, egg and cheese combo made with Nueske bacon and Zab's hot suace. If you're in the mood for something simpler, you can also order loose bagels with schmear. That being said, wine pairings and the family-style “Smögen Tower” with all the accoutrements make this erstwhile casual dining experience feel special enough for a spendy brunch, but we'd recommending visiting Smögen any time you're in the Valley over the weekend and craving a light, crispy nontraditional bagel.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Fairfax District
  • price 1 of 4

Family owned since 1987, Bagel Broker is the real deal, with consistent, affordable bagels—a dozen (which here means 14) bagels for $18—that have made this Beverly Boulevard bagel shop a breakfast mainstay among Angelenos for decades. (More recently, Bagel Broker also opened up a Downtown location.) The tiny strip mall spot often draws lines as soon as doors open at 6am for its freshly boiled bagels, which are made on site. The bagels maintain their airy interiors and chewy crusts even after toasting. Bagel Broker also offers a ton of flavors, including jalapeño cheddar and cheese onion, plus containers of spread and schmears to take home and enjoy.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Silver Lake
  • price 1 of 4

One of L.A.’s most beloved bagel pop-ups now operates out of a tiny Silver Lake storefront, where Maury’s serves its pliable, chewy boiled treats with plenty of cured fish options. The shop is about as old-school charming as it gets: There are metal baskets of piles upon piles of the chewy, yeasty bagels, while black-and-white signs display the daily selection of house-made schmears and bagel sandwiches. They’ll toast a bagel, if you insist, but a little frowny sign hints that owner Jason Kaplan isn’t thrilled about the request. What the sign doesn’t tell you is that toasting a bagel removes some of its moisture and chew—and the chewiness of a Maury’s bagel is unparalleled, so don’t mess with a good thing. Toppings can skew familiar (whitefish salad) to rare-in-L.A. (there’s kippered salmon, in addition to lox). If you’re really feeling ritzy, add roe to any bagel.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Westwood
  • price 1 of 4

Inside a weathered storefront on the western portion of Olympic Boulevard, Bueller’s is baking some truly spectacular bagels onsite. The dense—but not too heavy—interior subtly fades into a crispy, chewy, boiled-until-golden crust. Toppings on the bagels (poppy seed, onion and more) can be a little sparse, but the full-flavored, pungent lox schmear and onion cream cheese more than make up for any missing flavor. This decidedly old-school shop has plenty of seating inside, with a few seats outside for those who want to take in the charm of Olympic. Don’t forget to bring cash, as it’s the only way to pay.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Culver City
  • price 1 of 4
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Light without weighing you down, and fully embracing simplicity, Pop’s Bagel’s are some of the best and most unique in the L.A. bagel scene. You’ve got just the classics at Zach Liporace’s bagel operation in Culver City, Brentwood, Fairfax and Beverly Hills but with execution this strong, you won’t be missing the bells and whistles of some of the more modern, spice-flecked concoctions popping up around town. Always served hot, the insides are practically pillowy, slightly melting the straightforward, housemade cream cheeses upon impact. Better yet, Pop’s even offers gluten-free bagels, plus plant-based schmears, so those with dietary restrictions can get in on the fun.

 

  • Restaurants
  • Fusion
  • Westlake
  • price 2 of 4

Bagel traditionalists, look away: This fusion-style Koreatown bagel maker offers yeasted rounds so fluffy and bread-like, we'd hesitate to group them into the same category as the dense, old-school boiled creations beloved by East Coast transplants. But the viral garlic butter bagel created by married owners Alex and Sun Sohn, as well as the Korean-inspired schmears (including one made with Jeju tangerines!) and sandwiches carry an appeal all of their own. Unlike most bagel joints, Calic Bagel encourages you to rip-and-dip loosies, so bring a friend or two and order a range of schmears for an only-in-L.A. breakfast experience that just might convert the bagel purists in your life into bagel progressives. For a decadent lunch, order one of the sandwiches, which run the gamut from classic to creative—think a cheesesteak-like riff with beef bulgogi and an egg-and-cheese with a galbi-style beef patty, garlic aioli and kimchi.

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  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 2 of 4

Lauded for its smoked fish, homemade pickles and pastrami sandwich, is it any surprise that Micah Wexler’s new-school deli makes a great bagel as well? Stop into the original stall inside Downtown’s Grand Central Market or the larger outpost in Santa Monica for bagels that are soft and pillowy on the inside and just the right amount of crispy on the outside. Pile your open-faced sandwich high with avocado, cucumber, chili flakes and a twist of lemon (the Elaine) or spring for the pastrami lox or creamy smoked sturgeon. Bagels here come in just three flavors—plain, everything and sesame—but the excellent toppings more than compensate for the lack of variety.

  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
  • Manhattan Beach
  • price 1 of 4

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Unlike most West Coast bagel shops, which highlight connections to New York City, Manhattan Bread & Bagel is proudly named because it was founded in Manhattan Beach, and the bagels—along with the entire bakery—have a distinctly Southern California vibe. A popular breakfast and lunch spot, Manhattan Bread & Bagel is a full-service bakery, its counter filled with crusty loaves of bread and flaky pastries alongside stacks of bagel baskets. The bagels themselves are dense and heavy, with a lighter crust that stays chewy even when toasted. There are a wide variety of styles and flavors of bagels on offer here, with rotating specials popping in and out according to the season.

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  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • Larchmont Village
  • price 1 of 4

This beloved stalwart, Sam’s Bagels, is a full service bagel-maker with outposts in Larchmont, Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Pico-Robertson. The Larchmont location's larger dining area translates into the ideal weekend hangout for locals, who order their bagels “for here” so they can read the news, schmooze or people-watch through the large window looking out onto the boulevard. The bagels themselves have a really crispy exterior with a dry, almost crumbly interior. Sam’s has an extensive selection of bagel styles and cream cheeses, including sweet bagels like cranberry apple and peanut butter chocolate chip.

  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • Burbank
  • price 2 of 4
This newer bagel shop and deli in Sherman Oaks, Burbank and Calabasas is known for its sturdy, well-appointed bagel sandwiches, which come stuffed with thick-cut lox, heirloom tomatoes, pickled onions and cucumber (Number 3) or maple-glazed bacon, sharp cheddar, scrambled eggs and house aioli (Number 1). The regular flavor lineup includes all the standards, plus a fun salty chocolate chip, but Hank’s also mixes it up with daily specials like pretzel, blueberry and pizza bialy. If you’re just looking for loose bagels, Hank’s offers those too with a dozen different spreads—vegan cream cheese included.

 

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Culver City
  • price 2 of 4

With more in common to Middle Eastern flatbreads, Jerusalem bagels aren’t true (i.e. boiled) bagels, but the oversized, oblong sourdough rings at Alexander Phaneuf and Or Amsalam’s trio of bakeries (Culver City, Sherman Oaks, Pico-Robertson) impart just as much as joy when toasted, smothered in butter and enjoyed with coffee or tea. Tear off slices to dip into Lodge Bread’s creamy Israeli-style hummus, a carryover from the pair’s now-shuttered Hasiba.

  • Restaurants
  • Trucks
  • Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

Despite the occasionally erratic schedule, Yeastie Boys makes a fantastic bagel worth tracking down. Initially a single roving, pun-sloganed food truck parked on L.A.’s Eastside, the operation now possesses a fleet of four trucks with regular stops across the city. These bagels and sandwiches are a solid deal for their $10ish price tag, absolutely heaped with cheese, eggs, bacon and whatever else they’ve got in the truck. But it’s not just about the massive sandwiches (Instagrammable as they may be). A Yeastie Boys bagel truly tastes like a carefully hand-crafted baked good: The interior is light, airy and almost flaky, but it maintains its integrity with the sturdy, crusty exterior.

Need something to drink with that bagel?

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