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Is it possible to find a Montreal style bagel in Los Angeles

snoobie Feb 10, 2007 06:27 PM

I am having a hard time finding a decent bagel in this city. I love the Montreal style bagels that are thinner (less doughy) ;and sweeter. Is it possible to find such a bagel in this city?


  1. mnosyne Feb 10, 2007 06:34 PM

    Found this on a previous post:

    "The only bagels worth eating in this town are imported from Montreal. And you can get them at Pasquale's Cafe on the south side of San Vicente near Hauser. These are first boiled then baked in a firepit-like oven. These are Fairmount Bakery (as opposed to Saint Viatur, which I prefer by a small margin) and they are NOT the doughy, bread-like blobs made in America. This is one of the reasons--along with smoked meat at The Main or Schwartz'-- to visit Montreal..."

    dina Jan 21, 2006

    1. s
      snoobie Feb 10, 2007 06:42 PM

      GREAT GREAT. Can I buy bagels by the dozen or is this a cafe only? I live in Toronto most of the year where there are loads of great bagel shops. LA's bagels are like white bread with a whole in th middle. It is time for a Montrealer to open up a bagel shop here. Are you a Montrealer?

      1. tritip Feb 10, 2007 09:10 PM

        You should check out St. Urbain Street Bagels on Beverly in Beverly Hills. Not exactly St. Viateur, but maybe sufficient for a quick fix.

        1. m
          Montrealaise Jun 13, 2007 04:00 PM

          Don't let the name of St Urbain Street Bagels deceive you. These are NOT Montreal-style bagels, they are American-style bagels. I went there hoping for a taste of home and was extremely disappointed just walking in the door. Their bagels are on display and they look like every other type of bagel you can buy here. I thought maybe they had the good-stuff elsewhere, but they had to admit to me that they didn't make Montreal-style bagels, that it was just the name.

          I'll be checking out Pasquale's next. Hopefully they will have a decent bagel.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Montrealaise
            epop Jun 13, 2007 05:42 PM

            keep us posted. i almost ordered from fairmount today, actually

            1. re: Montrealaise
              JeetJet Jun 13, 2007 09:34 PM

              As I read your words, "they look like every other type of bagel you can buy here." I wonder whether you actually tried one? I recall (unless things have changed) that St. Urbain Bagels in Beverly Hills were made by Buellers Bagels over on Olympic Blvd. IMO, what ever name they hang on their sign, these are the best bagels in L.A. It would be a shame to not try them but it would be a crime to compare them to every other bagel "here." If you did try them then it puts into question your ability to compare one bagel against another. Think "Crust outside -- moist inside with tug and chew. A good selection of flavors.......

              Buellers Bagels
              10840 W Olympic Blvd.
              Los Angeles, CA
              (310) 474-6064
              South- East Corner of Olympic at Westwood Blvd. Between Westwood and the Westside Pavillion,

              St. Urbain Bagels
              449 N. Beverly Dr.
              Beverly Hills, CA 90210
              (310) 288-0219
              Just So. of Santa Monica Blvd., across the street and a little North of Nate 'n Als

              1. re: JeetJet
                epop Jun 13, 2007 09:45 PM

                perhaps they're not montreal bagels, a unique and perfect beast

                1. re: JeetJet
                  Emme Jun 13, 2007 11:06 PM

                  LOVE st. urbain's blueberry and egg bagels.

                  1. re: Emme
                    Oron of Montreal Mar 24, 2009 11:28 AM

                    Hi Emme. Despite their name, anything other than sesame seed or poppy seed is not a bagel; it is a doughnut or a weird-shaped muffin. I apologise for what must appear to be bagel prejudice on my part, but in Montreal, only these two will do.

                    And in Los Angeles, the St. Urbaine's bagels are made of regular, run of the mill white bread dough, and baked in electric ovens, so they are definitely not Montreal bagels.

                    For a couple of years in the 90s, West L.A. had The Woodfire Bagel Café, but they went bust-o. They not only had a brick, wood-burning oven and the right recipe, but they imported their flour and sesame seeds from Montreal, along with a couple of bakers from the Real Bagel bakery back home.

                    I'm not saying that you are wrong to enjoy St. Urbaine's blueberry/egg doughnuts, but in the context of this discussion thread, they are not Montreal-style bagels, if bagels they be at all.

                    For now, the Culver City Farmers' Market on Tuesdays has a bakery vendor who sells decent American bagels that are as close to Montreal's as I've had in years. Just please leave some for me!

                    1. re: Oron of Montreal
                      Das Ubergeek Mar 24, 2009 11:36 AM

                      You will be much happier and less stressed if you can somehow convince yourself to just ignore things that don't fit into your own food worldview, honestly. There are no jalapeño bagels in the bagel palaces of New York, either, but places that make decent approximations of New York bagels in LA make them. So I learn to ignore them and I buy what I want, which is canonical New York bagel flavours, like poppy seed, onion, garlic, plain, salt, etc.

                2. re: Montrealaise
                  bite bite Jun 14, 2007 10:41 AM

                  Agree. Was drawn by the St. Urbain signage like a moth to a flame and was so disappointed. As other posters, curious to hear about Pasqueles -- but a little dubious as well. How can they stay fresh? My favoirte was getting a st. viateur or fairmount piping hot from the oven. Lasted the day very nicely -- but beyond that just doesn't seem optimal.

                3. s
                  SteveInSoCal Jun 13, 2007 10:03 PM

                  St Urbain shamefully calls themselves a Montreal bagel. They bare no resembalance to a Montreal bagel. They are an ok bagel like Goldsteins or Western is an ok bagel. Western will do when you just have to have a bagel. But no bagel in the US is as good as a Montreal bagel

                  1. e
                    eberhard49 Jun 13, 2007 11:11 PM

                    so....is it true that the reason you cant get good bagels (and pizza) in LA is the water?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: eberhard49
                      Das Ubergeek Jun 14, 2007 06:54 AM

                      No, the reason you can't get "good" (by New York or Montreal definition) bagels or pizza is because it isn't part of LA's food culture, the same way you can't get "good" Mexican or Salvadorean food in New York or Montreal. There isn't enough demand for "New York" style pizza or "Montreal" bagels, as opposed to "LA whatever" equivalents of them, to support businesses that offer them.

                      Plenty of businesspeople have imported water from New York and yet somehow it still doesn't work -- yet Vito's, which is heralded as the best NY pizza in LA (yes, I know, it would just be a corner pizzeria in New York or New Jersey, spare me the agita), uses Villaraigosa Springs water and his pizza tastes authentic.

                      Another big part of it is that the surroundings are wrong -- even if you could get an honest-to-god St.-Viateur bagel in, say, a Studio City cafe, you wouldn't be surrounded by chic city people in black speaking French and drinking coffee that doesn't suck. New York pizza owes a lot of its cachet to the surroundings -- standing on line waiting, then eating it over a bar table or sitting out on the curb, listening to braggadocio with an accent. It's not the same when you eat the same pizza while listening to someone saying, "Oh my God, look at all the oil, this slice of pizza must have five hundred calories, I'm SO going to have to bail on Pilates tonight and do cardio instead."

                      And, since we're talking about bagels here, no, I've never had a Montreal-style bagel "digne du nom" in LA, but for my money, the best bagels are at Union Bagel, in the train station -- though perhaps it's because by the time I get to Union Station having smelled the food people are eating on the train from Fullerton, I've just got to have a bagel.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
                        running pig Jun 14, 2007 03:06 PM

                        I had the garlic ones there, and yes, pretty darn good.

                    2. m
                      markethej Jun 14, 2007 08:24 AM

                      IMHO there are 2 reasons why the bagels here don't measure up to our expectations for bagels from New York or Montreal. The first is that purveyors of these round doughboys of love have been around a long time and haven't changed their techniques in consideration of more cost-efficient methods. For someone, to open a bagel bakery here with a busines plan that included an overnight retarded rise, boiling, then baked in a wood-fire oven incurring a 36 hour production time for bagels would be bold to say the least. The second reason is that any baker worth his salt, flour, and water uses starter dough leftover from the day before. This is also a costly endeavor and, more importantly, all starters are unique from city to city because the "wild yeast" that pollinates a starter differs from city to city. Think San Francisco Sourdough; easily recognizable. Heah, but in the end, these are excuses until someone can get it right!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: markethej
                        epop Jun 14, 2007 09:25 AM

                        i happen to prefer the bagels here to ny, even though i am from NYC.
                        for ex., the malibu country mart's h and h bagels taste much better to me their chewy oversized manhattan versions.
                        i'll take a toasted coffee bean bagel any day over anywhere in ny.

                        but montreal's places, cooked on wood, are in their own category.

                        1. re: markethej
                          arkestra Jun 14, 2007 10:30 AM

                          about 10 years ago, someone opened a montreal-style bagel place in west l.a. (corner of beverly glen and santa monica). it had a wood-fire oven (it may even have been called woodfire, but i don't recall). it wasn't st. viateur (or even fairmount), but it wasn't bad (certainly better than the wonder bagels you get at most places). unfortunately, it didn't last very long.

                          in the meantime, i'll have to try the bagels at pasquale's mentioned above. (however, a family friend is set to arrive from montreal tomorrow. he usually brings st viateur bagels, along with liberty cottage cheese (another montreal must), so maybe i can put off the pasquale's visit for a while.)

                          1. re: arkestra
                            epop Jun 14, 2007 01:35 PM

                            pasquale's has them only intermittenty, as i discovered today.

                            overnight air delivery for the bagels is still great but yes not like hot out of the oven. best we can do + still better than all bagels. note: i'm a ny'er, not from montreal (i happen to think nyc has substandard bagels).

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