Gourmet Walks | The 9 Best Bagels in (And Around) San Francisco
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The 9 Best Bagels in (And Around) San Francisco

By: Stephanie Garr

What, you think only New Yorkers get the pleasure of sinking their teeth into a world-class bagel at their every whim? Sure, the East Coast has had a lock on this circular carby wonder for decades, but bakers on the West Coast are starting to show their bagel-baking muscle. Since the San Francisco Bay Area has no shortage of acclaimed dough masters, we’re just thankful that some have turned their fine skills over to the delicate science of bagel making. So, no need to book that cross-country flight quite yet. Here are 9 spots in San Francisco and Oakland where you can satisfy your bagel needs—stat.

 

1. Wise Sons Bagel & Bakery: 1520 Fillmore Street

The folks behind the popular Jewish delicatessen have naturally expanded to another storefront solely focused on the almighty bagel. Five ingredients make up the dough, which is cooled for 36 hours to slowly ferment before it’s dunked in boiling barley malt. Your bagel options here are simple (salt, poppy seed, sesame, plain, everything or onion bialy), while the shmear selections—including smashed avocado, Alfieri almond butter, and housemade hummus—remind you we’re still in California. Get a taste of Wise Sons’ bagels on our Fillmore Street Food Tour!

 

2. Marla Bakery: 3619 Balboa Street

From pop-up to beloved eatery, Marla has become the Outer Richmond’s go-to bakery. Here, they take special care in their bagels, using a custom mix of flours and baking them fresh with the sun rise, resulting in a chewy center with a smooth crust. Choose from poppy, salt, multi-seed, or sesame, or better yet, stay for the Bagel Plate, which includes herbed farmers cheese, house-cured trout, and housemade pickles.

 

3. 20th Century Café: 198 Gough Street

Take a posh trip to Eastern Europe at this charming, retro-styled Hayes Valley café, where you can find sweet and savory specialties as rich and opulent as a Viennese palace. Before diving into one of 20th Century Café’s beautifully layered tortes, start off with the housemade bagel topped with smoked salmon, cream cheese, pickled shallots, and dill, all delicately placed on a vintage porcelain plate.

 

4. House of Bagels: 5030 Geary Boulevard

The longest-running bagel institution in San Francisco, this classic Jewish deli has been serving up Brooklyn-style bagels since 1962. In fact, their original bagel recipe, which involves boiling the dough then baking it on stone, came straight from the New York borough. Over the years, they’ve strayed from their East Coast roots just a bit, stacking up quite a number of flavor profiles, including cranberry, jalapeno, chocolate, and pesto, with cream cheese options like lox and onion, garlic and herb, and strawberry. And while you’re here, don’t miss out on the one-and-only “cragel,” their ingenious hybrid of a croissant and bagel.

 

5. Nopa: 560 Divisadero Street

We understand that when Nopa’s mouthwatering weekend brunch menu sits in front of you, it’s one of the hardest decisions you’ll have to make for the day. We recommend trying out their seemingly humble bagel selection—you’ll just need to score an early reservation since their pastry chef whips up just a small batch, ensuring each bagel comes out with a beautiful golden glow and a fine balance of crispness and softness. The bagels come in flavors like sea salt or sesame and are typically served alongside smoked trout or lox and a healthy dollop of farmer’s cheese.

 

6. Beauty’s Bagel Shop: 3838 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland

It’s well worth the trip across the bay to this quaint, brick-lined bakery, which offers organic, hand-rolled, Montreal-style bagels. Boiled then baked in a wood-fired oven, Beauty’s bagels are loved for their crackly crust and chewy center. Just as impressive is their extensive selection of toppings, including chopped liver, almond butter, and herb goat cheese, as well as their fairly priced bagel sandwiches (we dig the organic fried chicken with creamy beet coleslaw).

 

7. Authentic Bagel Co.: 463 2nd Street, Oakland

Rhode Island brothers Jason and Mark Scott bring the best of both coasts together by adding a San Francisco sourdough starter to their great-grandmother’s 100-year-old bagel recipe. They generously coat their crispy crusts in traditional toppings like sesame, poppy, and salt, though the everything bagel is an absolute must here. And, good news for San Franciscans: if you don’t feel like making the trip to their Oakland shop, just head over to Arlequin Café (a stop on our Hayes Valley Food Tour!) or Bi-Rite Market (featured on our NoPa/Alamo Square Food Tour!) to get your fix.

 

8. Sour Flour: 2937 24th Street

A unique spin on both bagels and bakeries, Sour Flour resides in La Victoria Bakery in the Mission, but you can find their breads and bagels scattered throughout San Francisco. Using a San Francisco starter culture and organic wheat flour, they hand-roll, boil, seed, and bake their bagels daily. They also offer bagel-making workshops, but maybe their greatest feat has been in creating a sure-fire cure for a nasty case of the Mondays. Get familiar with “Bagel Monday,” when you can pop by their shop (or arrange a delivery) to get your bagels free of charge. Yes, free!

 

9. Holey Bagel: 3872 24th Street

This no-frills Noe Valley joint has been boiling up bagels for over three decades. You’ll find a solid lineup of flavors here—like cheddar, blueberry, sourdough, and chocolate chip—each taunting you from their modest wired boxes. Add a thick layer of one of their many low-fat spreads (or Tofutti) for a solid breakfast. But we think the best thing here is their selection of sandwiches, including the “Egg Tasty” with cheese, and the lox with cream cheese, tomato, and onion. Here, simplicity is the key ingredient.