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Bagels in San Diego

This may be a futile search, but can anyone point me to a good bagel in this town? By good I mean a bagel that is slightly crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. A plain bagel that can be eaten w/out shmear and still taste great. I HATE most of the chain bagels (sorry Einstein's, Brueggers, ect). They are too big, have no crust and don't even taste all that great.

I have already deemed Big City Bagels in Hillcrest to be ok, but I am hoping there is a hole in the wall somewhere secretely selling bagels that will give me my bagel fix a few times a year.

Thanks for any input folks. :)

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  1. Top of the Bagel in Solana Beach is probably the best. Big City Bagels is my second pick.

    2 Replies
      1. re: Ewilensky

        I'm surprised about all the favorable reviews on Top of the Bagel. Is this still the case or did they change management? I was disappointed on last visit.

        1. The twist at the Hillcrest Einstein is very good.

          1. Busy Bee in La Jolla (La Jolla Blvd) is pretty good too.

            1. Lang's in the Campus Drive-In shopping center at 63rd + El Cajon.

              4 Replies
              1. re: mikec

                Golden Bagel in Rancho Penasquitos are the best bagels I've had but you might not like them because there really big and super soft.

                1. re: mikec

                  Lang's is still around!? Been ages since I've been in the neighborhood.

                  Lang's was pretty good in the day.

                  Top of the Bagel is still the "best." But nothing like an East Coast bagel.

                  1. re: mikec

                    Are you sure that Lang's is still open? I tried to find it last night and couldn't. There is a sign for it on the list of stores in the mini-mall, but when I drove around it was no where to be seen.

                    1. re: LaurenZ

                      Lang's is closed - I think they are still doing catering, though.

                  2. Not only will you not find a good bagel in this town, people around here typically have no idea what makes a good bagel. Places like Einsteins sell bagels that are way too soft and have none of that good chew, yeasty flavor, and boiled crust.

                    I'll side with Big City as the "best" in town, though I haven't tried that one in Solana. I really miss Bialies from NYC. Kinda like a flatter bagel without the hole and not boiled, with some well cooked onion in the middle. Just try and get those in SD!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: afinkle

                      Baltimore bagel used to do them...and all the locations got bought out by Einsteins..<sigh>

                      1. re: afinkle

                        "people around here typically have no idea what makes a good bagel"

                        Exactly right. I was recently in NYC and had forgotten just how good high-quality bagels and lox are. There's nothing even remotely similar to be found out here.

                        1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                          Reading this thread reminded me of a place that used to be located in Parkway Plaza called Cohen's Deli in the 70's and early 80's. Does anyone else remember that place? They had great sandwiches with crusty bread and good bagels too. I wish I could find out if they relocated somewhere under another name...

                          1. re: Josh

                            My quotation makes me sound quite the snob... sorry! but each region has their specialties that don't translate over. When I am on the east coast, I am amazed at how bad the burritos are... and I bet I'd be hard pressed to find a decent surf board.

                        2. I had a surprisingly decent plain bagel today that I got from the bins at People's Co-Op. They had shiny, hard outer crusts, and toasted up pretty nicely. I did have with neufchatel and tomato, so not sure how it'd have been plain.

                          1. Top of the Bagel in Solana Beach has good bagels, the best I've had in San Diego, but still can't compare to the NY and Boston bagels. Unfortunately Panera Bread moved into the same shopping center as TotB and seem to have hurt their business. Panera Bread's bagels are pretty bad by comparison.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: PGB

                              Insanely futile search, my friend. When I'm up in L.A., I go to Bueller's Bagels and buy a dozen or so and freeze them once I return home to SD.

                            2. I just updated a related bagels in SD thread, over here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5164...

                              1. I'm from Brooklyn and a real snob when it comes to bagels and pizza. I have found one place in San Diego for each. Pt Loma Bagels is located across the street from the Library in a little shopping center. LI Mike's Pizza is in Kearny Mesa off the 15 at Clairemont Messa Blvd EAST just beyond the Freeway entrance make a left. Mike has a web site that give better directions. Enjoy.!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: bklyntraveller

                                  It's West of the 15, on Murphy Canyon Road, just South of Clairmont Mesa Blvd.

                                  1. re: Cathy

                                    Cathy,
                                    You are so right. I expect the Ocean to be EAST of me from my Long Island days and even after 11 years in San Diego I make that mistake. In case you are local they deliver in Tierrasanta.

                                  2. re: bklyntraveller

                                    Concur with bklyntraveller regarding Point Loma Bagel on Voltaire. Their mini-bagels are particularly good. They come in plain, sesame, and poppyseed and are usually sold out by Noon. It's a Mom and Pop one-of place that is owned and operated by an extended Vietnamese family (Oy vey, only in America.)

                                  3. The water bagels at Major Market in Escondido have a nice crust and good chewy interior...best I have found in my area.

                                    1. Garden State Bagel in Encinitas.

                                      1. Anybody tried the bagels from VG's Bakery in Cardiff. I've had donuts and other pastries there, but for some reason have never tried their bagels. They are a very good bakery so perhaps they can do a decent bagel?

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: RhonelyInsanediego

                                          VG is awesome... never had their bagels though.

                                          1. re: boltsfan

                                            Yup, when I see their donuts (Blueberry buttermilk !!!) and pastries, any thoughts about their bagels just doesn't cross my mind.

                                        2. Futile... SD is the worst bagel town. I would head up north and try Noah's Bagels.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: samarcus

                                            Really? That's so odd, since they're owned by the same company as Einstein Bagels. How are they different at Noah's?

                                            1. re: phee

                                              I used to work across the street from the original Noah's in Berkeley. It was some time after I came to San Diego that Einstein's bought Noah's (or vice versa?). I cannot really say that I recall Einstein's changing in any specific way after the purchase/merger. Noah's always seemed quite good though nothing like my memories of some of the great bagel shops in New York. Likewise for Einstein's....

                                            2. re: samarcus

                                              Not futile at all. Ate at Busy Bee yesterday and it was as great as ever. SD may have deficiencies but I can get a good bagel here.

                                              1. re: pickypicky

                                                I think it really depends on expectations.

                                                If what one means by "good bagel" is a NYC or Montreal bagel, then it is indeed futile.

                                                If one is ok with a bagel that shares bloodlines with a dinner roll, then, yes, there are many viable options in San Diego for a "good bagel".

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  I lived in NYC a few blocks from H&H when it was a one-stop storefront. Busy Bee is a good enough, boiled bagel. To expect SD to match a NYC specialty is absurd. SD has trouble even making the mark on a fish taco.