Sink your teeth into L.A.'s best bagels
Despite the groan-worthy pun of a name and an occasionally erratic schedule, Yeastie Boys make a fantastic bagel. Initially a roving, abrasively sloganed food truck parking on L.A.’s eastside, they now have a permanent home at West Hollywood’s Alfred In The Alley as well. Though these bagels and sandwiches aren’t cheap—some close in on $15—they are easily worth the price. 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. Four creative sandwiches—including an egg and sweet option with banana and Nutella—are available, along with a smattering of unique cream cheeses, like roasted vegetable and dill.
Long considered one of L.A.’s most elusive breakfasts, Belle’s Bagels started as a pop-up, blinking in and out of the city’s dining scene. Now it's back by popular demand, only recently setting up in a permanent home and operating out of a small window on the street-facing side of the Hi Hat. Somewhat unique in style, Belle’s serves up smaller, denser bagels than what some aficionados may be used to, but the golden crust and unique, high-end ingredients (like caraway and fennel on the Everything Bagel) will easily win over skeptics. Sierra Nevada’s beet and vegan cream cheeses round out a list of classic schmears; gourmet sandwiches, one ingeniously pairing lox with crispy salmon skin, are also available.
Inside a weathered storefront on the western portion of Olympic Boulevard, Bueller’s is baking some truly spectacular bagels on-site. 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 and onion cream cheese spreads 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 anti-charm of Olympic. Don’t forget to bring cash, as it’s the only way to pay.
Bagel Broker is the real deal. The popular neighborhood spot in a quiet strip mall serves bagels with a nicely airy interior and crust, even when toasted. On certain varieties, a heavy dusting of cornmeal adds a bit of crunch to the soft exteriors. The small shop stays busy throughout the day, owing to their popularity among locals and late closing time (for a bagel shop, anyways).
L.A.’s homegrown bagel mini-chain has been making bagels since 1958. With 11 locations (most of which are in the San Fernando Valley), 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. Very SoCal 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.
Bagel Factory is a small chain of bagel bakeries and shops; there are three locations serving western L.A. and Torrance. Labeling their bagels as kosher-style, Bagel Factory also operates as a full service bakery, with a big selection of house-made breads, cakes, pastries and challahs. The focus, though, remains on the namesake bagel, which are sold in a staggering amount of styles and flavors, including white, wheat and sugar-free varieties. The boiled exterior and ordering options, including classic and modern spreads and sandwiches, is difficult to beat.
Unlike other bagel shops in town who highlight connections to New York City, Manhattan Bread & Bagel is 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 baked goods 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, with rotating specials popping in and out according to the season.
How can you tell that New York Bagel & Deli is a serious bagel joint? The 6-foot pillars of grain and flour sacks that are stored just inside the Wilshire Boulevard entrance are a decent clue. Even without these stacks, a quick scan of the bagels, bialys and bagel sticks sitting inside the glass counter should make it clear that this is bagel nirvana. With an inside that is the perfect combination of flaky and dense, plus plenty of choices in toppings, this is Santa Monica’s top bagel destination. Though they wear their East Coast influence with pride, including a logo reminiscent of the NYPD’s and a supply of Taylor ham (a New Jersey breakfast staple), there are California influences as well, seen notably in the very spicy Tijuana Chili cream cheese.
More of a wholesaler than a retailer, New York Bagels LA makes some of the county’s very best bagels from an industrial park in Whittier. Fortunately, they're open to the public, selling bagels individually or by the dozen from a dusty window in a warehouse environment. Bagels are perfectly cooked, with an almost gooey interior and a complementary exterior. Though their bagels are exceptionally executed, the somewhat lackluster cream cheese spreads, served in tubs to be self-applied, are the only non-bagel items available. No sandwiches or coffee are to be found, but the lack of frills is indicative of this bakery’s Spartan commitment to crafting stupendous bagels.
Larchmont Village’s beloved bagel stalwart, Sam’s Bagels, is a full-service bagel-maker with a large dining area. That means it's something of a hangout for Larchmont locals, who order their bagels “for here” so they can read the news, schmooze or people watch through the large window looking out on the bustling 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.