The Best Bagels In LA
And the best bagel sandwiches, too. This is LA, after all.
When it comes to bagels in LA, we know two things: this is not a city for purists, and trying to please said purists can feel like engaging in tense diplomatic negotiations: everything from how blistered the crust is to how puffy the dough is will be debated and discussed. And don’t get us wrong, those qualities are important. But in Los Angeles, it’s really all about the toppings—there are shops that smoke their own pastrami, cure their own fish, and even culture their own cream cheese. So, really, do we love bagels or bagel sandwiches? We’ll leave those semantics to the sticklers—these are LA’s best spots for bagels and everything that goes on them.
Gather ’round, boys and girls, because Courage is teaching a master class on how to run a bagel shop in LA. The bagels here are technically Montreal-style, but also their own thing entirely: slightly smaller, thinner, and sweeter than the New York-style bagels found at places like Maury’s, Brooklyn Bagels, and Hank’s, and essentially closer to fancy bread that just happened to be made in a ring shape. If you opt for toppings (which you should), the bagels are served open-faced with things like thick, hand-sliced smoked salmon with cream cheese, cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, dill, pepper, and drizzles of olive oil—which makes for thoroughly well-seasoned bagels that look and taste like works of art.
Belle’s Bagels in Highland Park makes distinct, double-fermented bagels with a yeasty aroma that sets them apart from the competition. They’re also a big part of the reason why the sandwiches at Belle’s are big winners, especially the Loxsmith, with locally made smoked salmon, beet cream cheese, crispy salmon skin, and pickled fennel. It’s earthy, crunchy, vinegary, and smoky all at once, and, when combined with one of these malty bagels, it may very well be the best bagel sandwich in the city.
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Brooklyn Bagel Bakery
Brooklyn Bagel Bakery first opened in West Adams in 1953, and moved to Historic Filipinotown in 1965—making it the oldest spot on this guide by several decades. They operated as a wholesale operation for most of that time, but, after some, uh, structural issues and a subsequent rebuild, this bakery reopened in 2018 with a retail shop to sell their beautiful, blistery bagels. We like them best with a heavy-handed spread of garlic cream cheese, and a few capers sprinkled on top, so that the focus is on these dense, doughy, thin-skinned beauties.
Of course Gjusta makes good bagels—this new Venice classic handles baked goods like Mookie Betts handles hanging curveballs. They’re blistered and golden on the outside, and dense and tender on the inside, with a strong malty smell that brings to mind freshly brewed beer. In other words, by all those standards we talked about at the beginning of this guide, they’re basically perfect. The bagel topped with salmon roe and garlic labneh on the menu is great, but honestly, we also love them old-school and simple, with nothing but a bit of their locally made cream cheese.
A relative newcomer to the scene (they opened in 2019), Hank’s Deli in Burbank is all about the bagel sandwiches. Which isn’t to say their bagels aren’t good, it’s just that this place treats them like blank canvases. They cure their thick-cut lox in-house for their Number 3 sandwich, and serve it with heirloom tomatoes, pickled onion, and salted cucumber. The Number 1 is another good choice—a classic BEC updated with sweet maple-glazed bacon, sharp cheddar, and aioli—but our favorite egg sandwich here is actually the New Number 2, which combines braised greens, Gruyere, and a fried egg, and gets a tremendous kick of heat from pickled spicy peppers.
Maury’s was famous long before they even truly opened. Their weekly pop-ups at Eastside coffee shops were the stuff of legend, selling out most mornings as hordes of people lined up to score a bagel. With their 2019 brick-and-mortar debut, Maury’s was able to cut down on the lines, but the quality remains. These bagels are on the small side, but they are dense, chewy, and absolutely fantastic. The thin-skinned crust still has a bit of texture, and Maury’s makes them at such a clip that yours will always be warm inside. If you’re going for a sandwich, any of the smoked fish options are great, especially the fatty, smoky sablefish.
Pop’s Bagels started in 2017 as a catering operation, run out of the owner’s apartment. Now, they have a full shop at the Platform in Culver City. These bagels are super simple, doughy, dense, and very tasty. The bacon and avocado is a favorite of ours—served with your choice of cream cheese (we like the pickled jalapeño, which is full of fatty and spicy flavors, but won’t overpower the bagel beneath). You should also get the What Zach Had For Breakfast, a rotating special involving sweet-and-savory combos like a sesame bagel topped with Santa Barbara Smokehouse lox on one side, and cream cheese and strawberry jam on the other.
photo credit: Modern Bread & Bagel
Modern Bread & Bagel
For the bagel snob, a gluten-free option might evoke the same feelings as putting ketchup on a hot dog: it just ain’t right. But Modern Bread & Bagel, a gluten-free NYC bakery with a location in Woodland Hills, proves that gluten-free bagels can not only be acceptable but excellent. The ones here have a subtle yeasty tang, a satisfyingly dense bite, and toast beautifully without tasting like a charred sponge. The go-to here is Modern’s pastrami-cured lox sandwich on their onion-heavy everything bagel, plus a slice of their cinnamon roll loaf that we won’t leave without.
We’re saying this here and now: Wexler’s has the best lox in the city. This silky, house-smoked fish melts in your mouth—it’s beautifully ribboned with salmon fat, and sliced so thin it’s almost translucent. The bagel that lox is served on is merely pretty good: there’s not a lot of maltiness, and the texture varies, sometimes from bite to bite. But the salmon is so incredible that this is still one of our favorite open-faced bagels in the city. Each half is dressed with a bit of cream cheese, some thinly sliced red onion, and enough capers to give you a pop of salt every once in a while.
Yeastie Boys Bagels
If you’ve taken a Saturday morning drive down San Vicente in Brentwood, or Sunset in Silver Lake, or been anywhere in the vicinity of Melrose Place, you’ve seen the crowds outside Yeastie Boys’ bagel trucks. Their bagels are—you guessed it—distinctively yeasty, but the reason to come here are the incredible, over-the-top sandwiches. There’s the Reubenstein, an inside-out bagel sandwich with pastrami, Swiss, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, or the Game Over, with heaping portions of scrambled eggs, bacon, tomato, and jalapeño cream cheese. They go heavy on that cream cheese, too—and we’re not complaining.