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Do real bagels (boiled) exist in San Diego County?

I'm having a difficult time finding a real bagel (not the Einstein's variety). You have so many great smoked fish options, but I need a good bagel to go with. Does the boiled bagel exist anywhere in San Diego County?

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  1. LOL

    Oh, you poor thing. Missing Kaufman's or the like, huh?

    Word has it that good bagels can be found in Solana Beach, but I can not remember the name of it. Let me search.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Enorah

      Top of the Bagel in Solana Beach.

      Rumor has it, as I have not yet tried them.

      1. re: Enorah

        Top of the Bagel is the best, closest bagel you will find here in San Diego.

        But sadly, they are not close enough.

        1. re: Enorah

          I live nearby and their bagels are very good, the best I've had in San Diego. Unfortunately the store seems to be struggling as a Panera Bread opened up nearby in the same shopping center. Of course their bagels can't compare.

      2. Kaufman's...yum... It's just a distant memory now...

        I'll definitely try Top of the Bagel. I think there's one in Carlsbad, too, but I've been scared away. After trying Del Mar Bagel and Garden State Bagel, I'm just depressed. I'll give it a whirl--thanks!

        1. This doesn't help MUCH, but Bruegger's bagels are better than Einsteins - where you can find them. Many of their shops have disappeared. They took over Baltimore Bagels, the only REAL bagel place ever to exist in SD (at least to my knowledge). I still miss their seedy sticks.

          1. Goldstein's Bagel Bakery in Pasadena.

            1 Reply
            1. re: The Old Man

              ohhhhh--their chocolate peanut butter bagels!!!! ohhhhh!!!

            2. I did want to say one more thing: Places like Garden State do boil their bagels first as does (I think) Einsteins--they just aren't very good.

              4 Replies
              1. re: The Old Man

                I'm pretty sure the folks at Einstein Bros. Bagels do *not* boil their bagels, same as Noah's Bagels. Manhattan Bagels does make very good boiled bagels but the nearest one to San Diego is 120 miles away in Studio City. Bruegger's Bagels are boiled and are better than most in San Diego, but they have limited varieties (they don't make egg or rye bagels, my favorites).

                The best bagels ever made in San Diego were the excellent ones made by Baltimore Bagel Company, which to my great sadness was bought by Einstein Bros and are now made completely differently (not boiled). Baltimore Bagel's demise was a sad day indeed for S.D. bagel lovers.

                My guess is that much of the problem with maintaining kosher-style delicatessens in San Diego has to do with the population shifts of San Diego's Jewish population, who have been steadily moving northward from the southern and central communities. There used to be a pretty decent and quite popular delicatessen and bakery named Blumers on El Cajon Boulevard near the intersection with 54th Street. It was actually the oldest New York deli in San Diego.

                When a large number of Jews moved north to the Del Cerro neighborhood in the early 1970s the business slowed and the deli closed. D.Z. Akins, being closer to the Del Cerro neighborhood but not far from the SDSU campus, would benefit from this shift. Since that time many other delis have come and gone, some better, some worse, but none would ever come close to the benchmark N.Y. city delis.

                I would like to put a word in for my favorite S.F. Bay Area delicatessen: Saul's Restaurant & Deli on Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley, just north of the famous Chez Panisse restaurant. It's my favorite deli in the entire S.F. bay area, with great food and excellent management by Peter Levitt and Karen Adelman. I recently moved from Oakland back to San Diego and really miss the place, and wish that San Diego had a place like it. By the way, Saul's gets their bagels from Manhattan Bagels, which in our opinion are currently the best bagels made in the East Bay.

                1. re: nileg

                  I think that Einstein's are boiled, but someone will have to go on a fact finding mission. I talked to one of the heads of the company, in fact he opened all the ones in SD, and he said they were. However, this was over 10 years ago.

                  1. re: The Old Man

                    I believe it's more accurate to say they're steamed - they have special ovens that work kind of like washer/dryers - that do it all in one process.

                    1. re: Alice Q

                      Yuck. Well I guess that explains it.

              2. One of the saddest culinary truths in SD is the lack of a great bagel spot or deli. As an East Coaster, I pine away for the great delis of my youth like Bain's in Philly or bagels from H & H in New York. I find it strange that L.A. can have a more than serviceable deli like Canter's (and even a chain like Jerry's on a good day). Also, they have a truly great bagel spot in Bueller's bagels on Olympic. San Diego can support places like this, and I hope someone aims high to make it happen. It'll be great when Einstein's and D.Z. Akins are only just two of several options.

                17 Replies
                1. re: Maxmdwinter

                  Having has the pleasure of enjoying authentic bagels, from NYC and other parts of the East Coast, I haven't found any in the SD area that adorn that distingtive sheen or chew which comes from a bath in boiling H2O.

                  1. re: cstr

                    I also wish we had access to good lox.

                    1. re: Josh

                      I've had good luck with Lox at Costco, give it a try.

                      1. re: cstr

                        Not to be pedantic, but before I spend the $ on it, is it very thin, with a little bit of chew to it? I hate the spongy stuff that passes for smoked salmon.

                        1. re: Josh

                          It's sliced thin, but not paper see through, I think it's in a 16oz. pkg, it has that 'cured' chew that you need to pull just a bit at with your teeth and good flavor. I like mine just on toast points, but you can put a shmear of cream cheese or capers with some chopped hard boiled egg, that and a good glass of chard, yum.

                      2. re: Josh

                        They had decent smoked salmon @ Fresh and Easy. They have 2 or 3 different types and it was sliced thinly and not spongy. My biggest criticism was that it lacked somewhat in flavor and oily-ness. They have a garlic cibatta loaf to go with it.
                        Quality was equal or slightly less vs. costco, but a much, much smaller package.

                        1. re: JRSD

                          The oiliness is a big factor, IMO.

                          1. re: JRSD

                            Was it Norwegian?, that's where Costco may have the advantage. 16 oz. pkg (for Costco that's small) could make a nice platter for 4 or 2 ravenous people.

                            1. re: cstr

                              There are two different packages/types at Costco. One is a 16oz (or less) round package that I believe is marked Norwegian and the other is a 2 lb rectangular pack that I can't remember what it says.

                              1. re: cstr

                                I couldn't remember whether it was norweigan, so I went back to look. There are 3 types there now: a wild-caught smoked from poland, (looks great, but not as tasty), a norweigan smoked (cheaper and oilyier) and now they have gravlax (in fridge waiting for its demise at lunch).

                                The wild caught was $1 more per 1/4 lb, but was not as good as the regular, which was average. Will let you know how the gravlax is, but having been to Barney Greengrass last month, I am tempering my expectations...

                                1. re: JRSD

                                  That must have just hit the shelves, imported?, size pkg? come back with your opinion on the grav.

                                  1. re: cstr

                                    F&E Gravlax in 4oz package was $3.98. It is farmed in Norway and "produced" in Poland. It was better than I thought it would be, pretty oily, and flavorful. Not a huge marinated flavor, but you can tell it was marinated and had some dill flavor. I thought it was the best of the three that they offer.

                                  2. re: JRSD

                                    Barney Greengrass is awesome. Really sorry I didn't make it there on my last trip back.

                                    1. re: Josh

                                      I think there's a Barney Greengrass in W. LA somewhere if you can't make it to NYC.

                                      1. re: daantaat

                                        I think it is in Beverly Hills. Given the price of gas, it could be the same cost to have them ship, though.

                                        1. re: JRSD

                                          It's in the Barney's Dept store on the 5th floor.

                                2. re: JRSD

                                  Fresh and easy is okay - but the costco smoked salmon is much MUCH better.

                                  And you can portion it out into 4 or 5 oz. bits, wrap it well and freeze it for future brunches (thaw in fridge the night before) and you're dandy.

                                  Brueggers is okay. Not great but okay. I've never had Einsteins but I've had Noah's - and winced. Giant puffy rolls, not bagels.

                          2. Driving around RB area and I saw "New York Bagels Cafe".

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: epicureous eggplant

                              I can find you a lot of places that make pizza that have Chicago or New York in the name, but is ain't the same. Same with most bagel places.

                              1. re: The Old Man

                                True. It still might be worth a try for the person that posted. I tried to find more info about the place on Yelp, boiling was mentioned.

                            2. Try Langs. They recently closed their market in the college area, but they have an outlet center in Kearney Mesa. You can order your bagels 24hrs ahead of time. I just called them and found out they do boil them and they double seed their bagels top and bottom!

                              Good luck.
                              Lang's Premium Kosher Bakery, Deli & Foods


                              3 Replies
                              1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                Have you had breakie or lunch there? Anything in particular to recommend?

                                1. re: amyzan

                                  They no longer serve the public the way they did in the College Area, they are simply take away bagels. They do not serve bagels, only bags of bagels to go, but you need to order ahead of time.

                                2. What about Elijah's in La Jolla?
                                  I haven't tried their bagels, but I like their Matzoh Ball Soup better than DZ's.
                                  I've been told there's also a Jewish Style Deli In Del Mar -
                                  Those are often the best bets for a good bagel.

                                  BTW - I recently had a bagel from the Coffee Bean on my campus - and it was the WORST bagel I've had in ages.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: SRosie

                                    You may be thinking Milton's. Already been discussed and slammed.

                                  2. Sadly, not many good bagel places in SD. But, I agree that Lang's have the best and most authentic bagels in SD. I had been going there for over 20 years when they were in the college area. An older Jewish couple owned and ran the place. I imagine that they are just too elderly now to run a place full time. It will be a sad day when they finally close up for good, so call ahead and get your bag of bagels now!

                                    1. In case people are still wondering whether or not Brueggers Bagels boils bagels, here's what their website says:

                                      "Welcome to Bruegger’s. Our authentic
                                      kettle-boiled bagels are fresh from the oven all day."

                                      I ran across this thread trying to find out if Baltimore Bagels still exists in San Diego. A Jewish friend of mine from NYC explained the difference between a bagel and a "roll with a hole" (her words) about 15 years ago and suggested that I try Baltimore Bagels, which, happily, I did .

                                      Someone on this thread pointed out that Brueggers bought Baltimore Bagels and there was some question as to whether or not they boil their bagels, so I thought I'd add the easy bit of research from Brueggers web page...

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: smullins85

                                        Einstein Bagels bought Baltimore Bagels.

                                        1. re: mikec

                                          I created images that lined the walls of Baltimore bagels- the sandwiches, the catering, menu boards, etc. That was LONG ago.

                                          1. re: Fake Name

                                            Wow, I remember those! I used to love going to the store in LJ - when I was a kid, our Jewish neighbors used to take me. I always got the onion bialy.

                                            1. re: Alice Q

                                              You were, no doubt, moved to buy more items and at a higher price due to the magnificent color displays shifting the percieved value of their offerings to much higher levels.

                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                  I also only ordered bialy - from the Navajo Road location.

                                                  You are very good, FN.

                                                2. re: Alice Q

                                                  I would kill for a good bialy these days.

                                          2. hmph I still miss Baltimore Bagels, I was pissed when they got bought out and replaced with inferior quality bagels.

                                            3 Replies
                                              1. re: MrKrispy

                                                Same here, MrKrispy et al. I fondly remember Baltimore Bagels, the one in Hillcrest, from many a post-Frontrunners Saturday morning breakfast. *sigh* Those were the good old days, for sure.

                                                And...there isn't a good bagel to be had in Mexico City, either--or Guadalajara, or Morelia, or...*sigh*

                                                1. re: cristina

                                                  "I fondly remember Baltimore Bagels"

                                              2. You want to go to Big City Bagels in Hillcrest on University. I used to work at Baltimore Bagels ages ago when I was in college and this is the closest I have found. They are awesome.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: jnice5

                                                  I went here this weekend and found it OK, not great (of course maybe I was spoiled by just returning from a trip home to New York two weeks ago with all the wonderful bagels I could eat, but I digress). I ordered a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and a plain bagel with nova lox, cream cheese, tomato, onion, caper. They gave me a blueberry instead of a cinnamon raisin (as if any self-respecting New Yorker would eat a blueberry bagel), but at least gave me the right one when I informed them of their mistake. The bagels themselves were decent, but not chewy enough on the inside, and not really enough "bagel flavor". I guess I'd go if I were in the area, but it probably doesn't warrant another trip down there just for that. Still probably the best I've found in SD, so it depends how desperate my cravings get.

                                                2. "Only in America." You can get a pretty respectable made-in-house bagel at Point Loma Bagel in Ocean Beach (on Voltaire across from the Hervey Public Library). It is owned and operated by a Vietnamese family but, having grown up in a neighborhood thick with first generation eastern European Jews, I think they are pretty authentic. The real problem with American bagels today, in my opinion, is the size creep that has taken place in recent years. Todays typical bagel is frequently triple the size of the bagels of my childhood. Give the mini-bagels at Point Loma Bagel a try.

                                                  Point Loma Cafe
                                                  4856 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92106

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: sandiegomike

                                                    I second the decency of the bagels at this place. They are not what I grew up with in metro Detroit, but they are at least reminiscent of what a proper bagel should be. Not too big, somewhat firm or slightly crunchy on the bottom with a soft inside. A plain bagel should also taste good, not taste like a baked block of flavorless dough.

                                                    I despair that real bagels are going to be wiped on the face of the earth with the proliferation of chains like Einsteins or Brueggers.

                                                    Yes, I take my bagels seriously.

                                                    1. re: sandiegomike

                                                      I grew up on Baltimore Bagels too, and while this place doesn't have a great bialy or beautiful menu boards they do have pretty decent bagels. The owners are pretty nice too. Give them a try!

                                                    2. Sun Flour Bagel on El Camino Real in Carlsbad boils their bagels. The owners are originally from Japan, and they also bake Japanese breads and buns.

                                                      For more about them, see http://www.sandiegofoodstuff.com/2008...

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Encinitan

                                                        Could you sense if there was a touch of molasses in them?

                                                        1. re: cstr

                                                          I rarely get bagels from them (I go for the raisin bread), but I have never noticed any touch of molasses. Of course, I get the everything bagel, which pretty much overwhelms any other tastes.

                                                      2. So, I went on a wild bagel chase today. I had seen conflicting info about Lang's on Chowhound and on their own website. Clearly they're selling wholesale to institutional customers, but I decided to stop in and see if it was possible to grab a bag of bagels from their bakery, and whether they would live up to their rep. My partner in crime was skeptical about a "food service bagel" but was game to come along.

                                                        We drove over to the address on their website, on Alvarado Canyon. It's in an office park, clearly not a retail establishment. But buoyed by memories of being a student in Bologna, Italy, buying foccaccia in the middle of the night from the ovens of a wholesale bakery (come to think of it, selling to us might have been an under-the-table hustle for the bakery workers), I pressed on. Sadly, the guy in the office informed us that they were, indeed, a wholesale operation. He recommended we go to Windmill Farms grocery store, a few miles away, which carried their products.

                                                        The only bagels in stock were Whole Wheat, which I enjoy but are especially tough to get right. And they didn't look especially promising. But in the spirit of empiricism, we took them home, toasted them up (no way were they fresh enough to tackle raw), and dug in.

                                                        Suffice to say, these bagels weren't worth walking down the block for, much less driving cross-town. The flavor was OK (though lacking salt or any tang from malt, IMHO). But the texture and density was hockey-puck-like. No loft or moistness inside whatsoever, and not much in the way of glossy, chewy exterior. A far cry from my Platonic form of a bagel- namely, Ess-a-Bagel on 2nd Ave in Manhattan, which makes bagels so warm and moist they shred the paper bag they are kept in *cries*. More realistically, they are definitely inferior to Big City Bagels in Hillcrest and not appreciably better than the "bagels" sold at major chains.

                                                        So, where next in the SD bagel quest? I've heard rumors of H&H bagels being available at a deli in La Jolla, can anyone shed any light? Also, when I Googled "H&H bagels San Diego", I came up with something that appears to be a distributor, Bagels and Bytes in Miramar. Anyone feel like investigating and reporting back?

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: fatty_mouthfeel

                                                          Most Lang's bagels are sold to their commerical customers as par-bakes and they're actually pretty good. They used to have a small retail outlet at the front of their baking oepration up on Kearny Mesa, not sure if they still do.

                                                          My bet is the bagle(s) you got at Windmill Farms was at least day old if not more.

                                                          1. re: fatty_mouthfeel

                                                            I feel your pain. We brought a bag of Ess-A-Bagels home with us from NYC. Out here I have simply given up on them. Nobody makes a decent bagel in this town. Brooklyn Bagel downtown would be considered an inferior bagel in NYC, but for San Diego it's acceptable if you are in the area and really craving one. I had my first (and last) bagel there in August, and it's down the hill from me - in other words, I'm not even moved to drive 10 minutes to get one. I also live near Big City Bagels, and my last visit there was in 2009.

                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                              Murray's in Greenwich Village are awesome.

                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                lol right there with you Josh. People at work said I was weird for having my GF stuff her carry on bag with bagels when she comes back from NY. Sad that people in San Diego think a donut shaped piece of toast is a bagel.

                                                            2. Brooklyn Bagel, in the East Village section of downtown at 10th Avenue and Island, uses an oven and kettle boiler that was brought over from the East Coast. It is a traditional bagel, not one that comes from a pizza oven. Big fan of their onion bagels. They sell bialys as well.


                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: El Chevere

                                                                Interesting. I was not impressed by their bagels at all. I thought they were too big and somewhat bready. They are closer to a real bagel than anything else I've had here, but I still don't think much of them.

                                                              2. I'm online and inside a Starbucks (in Santee) and the chalkboard above the cash register has the words "Try our New York Style bagels."

                                                                Looking at the tray in the pastry case, they look like NY bagels.

                                                                1. In Oceanside there is I Love Bagels cafe,they boil their bagels,offer a pretty decent bialy , as well as products from back East (they're from N.J.). In the Home Depot center off the 78. Closest I've found to what Iam missing in the area.

                                                                  1. No one has mentioned Bagel Club in Downtown and Big City got a passing mention, but no real discussion.

                                                                    1. Try Busy Bee Bagels on La Jolla Blvd. Ten years ago (when I first moved here) they did boil their bagels, because you could see the kettle from the display case. Don't know if they still do and my taste buds just like going to the same old place. I ate my first bagels at H&H and Barney Greengrass 40 yrs ago. Busy Bee is the only place in SD I eat bagels.

                                                                      Busy Bee Bagel
                                                                      6861 La Jolla Blvd, San Diego, CA 92037

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: pickypicky

                                                                        Yes, Busy Bee boils their bagels. Right now it's my #1 choice.

                                                                      2. Finally made it to Brooklyn Bagel and, sadly, not impressed. Not noticeably better than a major-chain bagel in flavor (too sweet, no tang) and texture (too dry).

                                                                        I will try Bagel Club and Busy Bee Bagels. And one of these days I will follow up on these H&H in San Diego rumors.

                                                                        Scott, I think that Big City is the best nearby bagel option I've found, it tends to have a better texture than some of the others. But I don't think it's anything worth writing home about.

                                                                        Meanwhile, I travel to the Bay Area pretty frequently, and there's been a lot of buzz lately about this new place in Oakland called Beauty's Bagel Shop. They're selling their stuff at Saul's but are about to open their own bakery in Temescal. Still far away, but I get there more often than I get to NYC...

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: fatty_mouthfeel

                                                                          Thanks for the info including the info on Beauty's in Oakland. I'll have to check them out next time I'm visiting the East Bay. I used to get my bagels from Manhattan Bagels on 4th St. in Berkeley as did Saul's Deli.

                                                                          I tried the bagels at PL Bagels a few weeks ago. They were boiled, the texture was good but the flavor was just ok. I still prefer Busy Bee.