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Do real bagels, boiled bagels, exist in West Los Angeles?

Yesterday I picked up some superb smoked sturgeon at Surfas for this morning. This morning I went to be favorite Jewish bakery, long famous for its rye and bagels, and found, that at 8:30, they were out of sesame seed, rye and pumpernickel were by special order only, but they did have poppy and egg.

I should add that the bakery was recently sold to people who admit tney know nothing of bagels, and fired the previous baker.

I got one egg and one poppy. The egg, which in accordance with the dictates of the old New York Bagel Makers Union, CIO, was not boiled. However, it was nothing more than a dry, overbaked egg roll without a hole. The poppy was also without a hole, and had the texture, not of a true bagel, but of a roll, a flavorless roll.

How the question is who in West Los Angeles actually makes a proper, boiled bagel?

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  1. You may have to go East--to Goldstein's (although their bagels are really big and doughy) or Brooklyn Bagel Company.

    1. Ditto on the Brooklyn Bagel Company. They are on Beverly near Alvarado, about 1/4 mile east of Tommy's Hamburgers.

      Great variety, its been there forever and smells good. They are primarily a wholesale bakery and commercial supplier. In other words it's not a sit down place. That being said, you can still order a couple of bagels with individual cream cheese and coffee.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Al Bondigas

        I hate to say it but Ive never found a good bagel on the west coast. My fav in NY are Tal Bagels on 1st Ave @ 53rd St

        1. re: JSny

          Oh my gosh, I agree about Tal Bagels. Last time I was in NY and in search of a bagel, a passerby directed me to Tal, more on the upper East Side, in the 80s, I think. I got an everything bagel with chicken salad - sat there with the NY Times and a coffee - a transcendant experience, I tell you.

          I think Western Bagels are okay, a little skimpy size-wise.

          I've never found a bagel out here that is anything but round bread. Some better, some worse (Noah's - yecch). And one post mentioned a bagel without holes - bizarre.

        2. re: Al Bondigas

          I really wanted to like Brooklyn Bagel - but it is just not that great. Definitely not worth the drive from the westside. They are chewy and quite tasteless.

        3. I can tell you that despite my desperately wanting to like Brooklyn Bagel Bakery, every time I've gone there I've been given a tough, chewy, flavorless ring. It may be acceptable for people in LA who did not grow up on excellent bagels back east, but for those of us from the tri-state area, BBB comes up way in the back. I've long held that an excellent bagel needs no embellishment-- not even chream cheese. If you grew up back east you know what I'm talking about. A soft in the inside, steaming bagel with a chewy yet crispy exterior and a slightly salty flavor... like a fabulous Jewish soft pretzel, almost. An excellent bagel should not be dry and hard to swallow, which BBB's consistently are.

          Though I have never had them here, I believe that the fancy deli on top of Barney's in Beverly Hills sells H&H bagels, which are boiled in NY, shipped to LA and then baked here.

          The best bagels I've found locally are from Western Bagel. Several branches around the area.

          Mr Taster

          6 Replies
          1. re: Mr Taster

            Western Bagel is the same place that has a factory on Van Nuys Blvd in the valley, correct? That was the stuff I grew up on (native Valley girl, that I am) and have never had an East coast bagel so it's good to know if Western Bagel rates.

            1. re: SoCalVal


              Western Bagel doesn't rate. My favorite bagel (kosher) is The Bagel Factory on Robertson.

            2. re: Mr Taster

              The H&H bagels at Barney Greengrass in Beverly Hills are really lackluster - not much different that Noah's. Maybe H&H has gone downhill.

              1. re: bfez

                When I mail-ordered from them, I wasn't that impressed. I'm wondering if shipping them in plastic bags is what makes them get all soft and mushy.

                1. re: will47

                  Yup, plastic bags make all bread products soft and mushy. Maybe the chemists among us can explain this scientifically.

                  1. re: omotosando

                    Its moisture coming out of the bagel and not being able to escape the plastic bag. Which is why you should always store bagels in paper bags that are not completely sealed at the top.

            3. I'm pretty sure the Bagel store on National & Sepulveda boils their bagels. I'm not sure of the name - look for the yellow "bagel" sign in the CVS/Vons mini-mall.

              Also Nathan's Famous Bagels (1636 Westwood Blvd.) - which used to be Manhattan Bagels (i think) and which used to be i & joy bagels - boils their bagels. I haven't been here for a while - but it used to be v. good.

              I'm not sure - but I think that Western Bagels (11628 Santa Monica Boulevard - near Barrington) also boils their bagels. This is a chain and there are a number of them around LA.

              1. The Bagel Factory boils its bagels and they are the best I've found in L.A. They have two locations: one in the Vons shopping center at National and Sepulveda (noted by dtud, above) and one in a sort of rundown strip mall at the corner of Robertson and Cadillac. They also serve kosher soups that are very good.

                9 Replies
                1. re: NAspy

                  Wow thanks - I never can figure out the name of this place. Their bagels are delicious! And it has great challah too!

                  1. re: dtud

                    The Bagel Factory is marked by just a plain sign saying "Bagels." It is in the strip mall on the SE corner of Sepulveda and National. Enter from the National side and it is about two or three doors down from the 20/20 Video. Bagels are properly made, often warm. But they are expensive, so I often get the day-old packs (I'm going to refridgerate and toast most or all of them anyway) and I get my cream cheese, etc. from the Trader Joe's either a couple blocks east on National and Westwood or a few blocks south on Sepulveda and Palms.

                    1. re: nosh

                      I worked there when I was in high school.

                      The bagels are indeed boiled in a kettle and then placed on wooden boards and then the baker flips the boards halfway through the baking cycle.

                      When I worked there they weren't expensive at all. I think 40 cents a bagel.

                      I wonder if old Sonny is still kickin. His son probably runs it now.

                      1. re: Bandini

                        This thread gave me a glimmer of hope - I haven't eaten a bagel in at least a year because I just couldn't justify the calories foir some sweet, overly fat rolls (which is what LA bagels seem to mostly be).

                        So, I just headed over to Bagel Factory - the bagels are $.79 each. I got one poppy and one sesame. My verdict: while pretty good by LA's low standards, they are way too big and way to sweet. I don't understand this bagels-as-cake thing we seem to get a lot of in LA - maybe it is all the fault of the Noah's chain? Anyway, the Bgael Broker won't erase the memory of my local Brooklyn bagel place anytime soon (and that place was nothing too special - just my local bagel joint).

                        For some the search goes on, but for me, I'd rather enjoy the things that LA does do (very) well. So, I will leave the bagels behind and use my calories to eat tacos, memelas, sushi, hanpen cheese, kim chi, pak boong fai dang, etc.

                        1. re: igj

                          For the record, the same argument about sweet, doughy, and giant bagels vs. "authentic" ones goes on in NYC too. Many of the top-rated places there serve just that: huge, soft bagles with no hole. However, they do have a bunch of "authentic" places that serve the old-style, crusty, smaller bagels.

                          Overall, the bagels are of course much better there too. But just pointing out that soft and squishy bagels are not necessarily an LA thing.

                        2. re: Bandini

                          Bandini -- I know I'm replying to a really old thread but even though it is four and a half years old I can tell you that Sonny is still kickin'. I bumped into him a few months ago and he was still running things.

                          I don't know if you knew George, the GM at Pico/Cadillac but I happen to bump into him at the Pantry and he's still there, too.

                        3. re: nosh

                          That's funny - I, too, get my cream cheese (green tub) from TJs. It is just really, really good.

                      2. re: NAspy

                        Bagel Factory also has a store on Torrance Blvd. & Hawthorne, in the Albertson's shopping center.

                        1. re: NAspy

                          Yes, they're also the best I've had in LA, but of course I keep kosher so I'm a little more limited than most here.

                        2. Fred's Bakery on Robertson used to have GREAT bagels.

                          Supposedly Langer's gets their breads from there:


                          Address at link.

                          1. Used is the operative word. That is where I was this morning. Since Steve and Sis retired, it has totally changed.

                            Also, they no longer supply Langer's

                            1. Okay, call me a purist for asking but how do you have a bagel without a hole? (okay, okay, I've seen one type before -- those long ones called "bialy," I believe) I've never seen the round kind without a hole, though; wouldn't those really, then, be rolls (or buns) after all? I must admit, though, that my bagel buying experience has been limited to I&Joy, Western and Costco. The first two were always good (in my experience), and Costco was hit or miss (I, once upon a time, thought all bagels were created equal until I bought some nasty bulk bagels from Costco -- that teaches me to buy a lot of something I haven't tasted before!).

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: SoCalVal

                                Is I & Joy still around? I thought they went out of business. They had good bagels. The kosher place on Westwood Blvd. that replaced at least that I & Joy location is terrible.

                                1. re: omotosando

                                  Most of the I & Joy locations were acquired by Manhattan Bagels about 10-12 years ago. The bagels were never the same after that.

                                  1. re: Sam D.

                                    Ah, I was wondering what happened to I & J. I was also wondering why the food, in general, in L.A. is so horrible, including the bagels. If some entrepreneur opened up a decent bagel shop, would there not be a market for it? After all, people wait in line in Beverly Hills for sugarbombs at Sprinkles. Would people not pay a fair price for a good bagel?

                                    1. re: omotosando

                                      If you think the food in LA is generally horrible, I have a feeling you're not eating at LA's many ethnic dives (Thai, Korean, Chinese, Mexican, Vietnamese). That's where the bulk of LA's culinary gold is, by and large.

                                      Mr Taster

                                      1. re: omotosando

                                        saying that the food in LA is horrible because of the dearth of ny bagels is like saying the food in new york is horrible because their mexican food leaves a lot to be desired.. . .

                                        1. re: omotosando

                                          you clearly haven't travelled throughout the country if you think the food in la is bad. new york and SF give us a run for the money - but we have some of the best (and most diverse - which adds to the best category) food in the us.

                                    2. re: SoCalVal

                                      Bialys are more round than long, a flat, yeasty onion roll that is best toasted. I haven't had a good one out here (I've found some mediocre ones in NY as well - I guess one person's perfect bialy is another person's um, imperfect bialy).

                                      I've seen long bagel-like things called something like bagel sticks. And the bagel place I grew up with in Queens had a large, flat, oniony disk called a "pletzel." Heat it in the oven, melt some butter on top, and you've died and gone to heaven.

                                      Hope you get to have a good NY bagel sometime, SoCalVal.

                                      1. re: lad1818

                                        Brooklyn Bagel used to make pletzel - don't know if they still do. It's the only place in LA I've ever seen it.

                                      2. re: SoCalVal

                                        I think they actually have a hole, but the bagels are so plumped up it's becomes more of a dimple. I'm assuming that's what people mean.

                                      3. Barney Greengrass has H&H

                                        1. There used to be a Manhattan Bagel in MDR, and I think there's one in Studio City too. I am very picky about my bagels, and I personally think Manhattan is the best of the bunch (in Southern California) - better than Goldsteins and any of the other places mentioned I've tried.

                                          1. New York Bagels is good. Bagel Factory on Robertson and other locations is ok, but there soups are even better.

                                            1. The Bagel Factory on Sepulveda and National has been there before bagels became popular - my first time there was in 1977 when I worked at the Von's in that shopping center. The shop's old configuration used to allow you to watch them boil the bagels right there behind the counter. They were the only game in town on the west side if you wanted any bagels at all. A loyal and tough clientele from the surrounding neighborhoods since who knows when had kept their standards high while I frequented their shop back in the 70s and 80s. Try their bialies and nutrition bars as well if they still carry them.

                                              I feel for you New York transplants. Although I've never been to NYC, I've been told by more than one seemingly knowledgable foodie that the reason you folks can't get bread goods out here(bagels, bread, pizza dough, etc.), "like back home," is because of two reasons. Bread starters are going to be unique and indigenous to the specific geographic areas. These starters are complex living things that have their origins from who knows where - a baker from generations ago smuggling in his cherished starter from the old country, and then becoming even more complex by the yeasts that are naturally occurring in the local environments. These starters - most respectable bakers have their very own that they guard with their lives - are probably the most important single component to their breads. The other is NYC's water. I hear the city's water is directly piped from Upstate New York. This source of water is supposed to make New York City's water some of the best tap water in the world. The water is supposed to have a balance and level of minerals that rivals some of the best bottled waters. Combine that with tradition and you end up with products that just can't be duplicated anywhere else.

                                              But c'mon - you have to admit that we do have great baked goods out here as well. Nancy Silverton's La Brea Bakery alone has raised the bar for LA bread and baked goods tenfold over the past 15 years. And I've had some incredible baguettes at local french markets, as well as the infinite number of interpretations of traditional items from the multitude of cultures here in LA. Be glad that you can't find bagels like back home - it makes going home that much more special! You owe your bakers back home a big hug!

                                              1. There used to be a great place in Long Beach called Bronx Bagels, but it's been 10 years since I was there. They were really good, almost authentic. Sad!

                                                1. Absolutely, all branches Bagel Factory boil and bake.

                                                  Sepulveda and National, Pico and Cadillac and Torrance.

                                                  1. I really wish one of you LA-bagel mavens would have a bagel from a South OC shop called Bagels 'n Brew (Lake Forest & Mission Viejo). Not so much because I'd like to help them out...... they seem about as busy as they can handle..... but because I'd like to know how you'd compare their bagels to the best of LA.

                                                    I used to work with the son of the founder(he now runs it) of Brooklyn Bagel, and at one time I drove past their place on my way home from work most nights. I thought their bagels were pretty close to what I remember from my years a kid in New York (but then it's been 40+ years since I lived there).
                                                    They were certainly way better than any of the big chain bagels. I thought they beat out Nate 'n Als, Juniors, Solly's too.

                                                    If anyone has had Bagels 'n Brew and can compare, I'd certainly find it most interesting. I get up to LA just often enough to stop somewhere for a few dozen to freeze, but I really like the local edition.

                                                    1. As a former I & Joy junkie, the closest thing I've found now is the Bagel Broker on Beverly just west of Fairfax. I can't say for certain that they boil their bagels, but they taste and look like they've been boiled. They are really good bagels no matter what. They taste "correct" to me. Not too huge or soft (eww..Noah's mcbagels). Lots of seeds or whatever on the outside. Not a lot of goofy varieties...mostly the standards. My personal faves are the salt, everything, and onion. They make a decent bialy too..but only when very very fresh.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Sugar Jones

                                                        Yes, I agree-- by LA standards, Bagel Broker has some of the best. By NY standards.... meh. But good enough to pass when the craving hits.

                                                        By the way, it's not west but east of Fairfax, in the mini-mall on the corner of Beverly & Orange Grove, across from CBS.

                                                        Mr Taster

                                                      2. Sugar Jones,

                                                        Bagel Broker sounds fantastic - keep it simple, make it great! I am guessing that when you consider the neighborhood, if they didn't make a great product, they would be out of business in a week! My wife went to Noah's in the Marina yesterday and got attitude from the help, and big fluffy air-filled bagels that would have floated away if they weren't weighed down with all the blasphemous this-and-that they impregnate the pseudobagels with. Gotta try them the next time I'm around there - thanks for the great tip!

                                                        1. It's just like the pizza situation -- if you're from nyc and stay here long enough, you can convince yourself that there is some GREAT pizza and bagels. But, alas, there's not.

                                                          For OK bagels, I go to Bagel Broker E of Fairfax on Beverly or Bagel Factory on Robertson.

                                                          1. Whoops! I said WEST of Fairfax for Bagel Broker and Echoparkdirt is correct, it's EAST of Fairfax. Thanks Echo....

                                                            1. I had comments before, but for some reason they've been removed. No hole in a bagel means that they let the dough rise for too long, so the moment they hit the boiling water the yeast is killed. A bagel with no hole is called a winker. Next time you see this you may want to mention that to management.

                                                              1. Katella Deli and Bakery in Los Alamitos (Exit Katella off the 605) has great bagels ... not sure if they boil ... the rye bread there is awesome as well ...

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: lilygirl

                                                                  Isn't it an oxymoron to have a no-boil "bagel"?

                                                                  1. re: aliris

                                                                    Exactly... if it's not boiled, it's a kaiser roll with a hole!

                                                                    Mr Taster
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                                                                2. Bueller's Bagels on Olympic and Westwood (SouthEast Corner) definitely boils them. I consider them very good for LA, and average for NY standards. Good enough to enjoy, without being astonishing. The owner is a nice Austrian guy.

                                                                  1. I'd like to put in Bagel Nosh, on 17th and Wilshire in S.M., as my vote... they used to be in my hometown in New Jersey and they definitely boil -- and, thank God, they're not the large kaiser roll type.

                                                                    1. ny isn't the best bagel town, imho, even though i'm from there and lived there forever. montreal is. the standard ought to be that one (it reminds me of the ny pizza debate--- no debate can convince a new yorker that his city has only average pizza). nothing here in LA comes close to montreal's wood fired gorgeous bagels.

                                                                      given that, the bagels at malibu country mart can be great. i like them better than the h and h in manhattan.

                                                                      taste can't be disputed though

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: epop

                                                                        from my recollection, the bagels at the malibu country mart are H&H bagels...i think they even have a big sign stating it. of course, they do have an awful lot of signs in that place...

                                                                        1. re: esculent

                                                                          yes they're h and h but malibu's are smaller (which i very much like) but they deny it (which i find funny)

                                                                      2. My two favorite places for bagels: 1) The bagels sold at the Hollywood Farmer's Market on Sunday... they come from a bakery in the south bay. Don't remember the name. 2) La Brea Bagels on Beverly somewhere around Martel. No affiliation with La Brea Bakery. Closed on Saturday.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Sandra W

                                                                          I tried the Hollywood Farmers market ones once and was very much not impressed. Just regular crappy squishy bagels.

                                                                        2. Someone mentioned New York Bagel, but I'd like to add that it's in a strip mall on San Vicente in Brentwood, across from Coral Tree, and next to Hamburger Hamlet and Peter Norman jewelers. Their flagels (flat bagels) are as good as any I had living in NY (I'm from Long Island). So, that's West Side for you.

                                                                          1. The best kettle boiled bagels on either coast was the original I & Joy Bagels in the late 60s-80s, breifly replicated by the now closed Malibu Bread & Bagel Company. Currently, the Nosh in BH does a very good kettle boiled bagel and the new Brooklyn Bagel in BH is doing it too (although a bit chewy).