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Roland's Bagels > Real Bagesl in SF (Finally)

Finally made it to Roland's Bakery last Sunday to try their supposed bagels. Well, I'm happy to report that Roland's does in fact have REAL bagels. I had an everything bagel with cream cheese. Delish... Grabbed the last onion biali to go cuz it just looked too amazing not to snag. Couldn't be happier to have this place in SF, let alone right in my hood!

Went back this morning for round two. Definitely not a fluke. These are really good freakin bagels. A bit crusty on the outside, but not overly so, and soft, doughy goodness on the inside.

If you're a fan of real bagels and know the difference between a real bagel, and bagel-shaped bread, then you really must do yourself a favor and get over to Roland's immediately.

422 Haight St
(between Webster St & Fillmore St)
San Francisco, CA 94117

(415) 896-4925

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  1. I tried it out yesterday afternoon. Picked up a couple of sesame and a couple of onion bagels. To this former east-coaster they seem like the real deal as well. They are "more dense" and consequently "chewier" than the House of Bagels, which I felt were the best available until trying these.

    1. I've been hearing good things about Roland's, glad to have your report here. I need to get in there for the bialies.

      Roland's Bakery & Cafe
      422 Haight St, San Francisco, CA

      1. loved the Morning buns on Sunday! the Danish were just going into the oven and looked lovely, topped with raspberries... the wisp of sweetness in the bagel may be malt... the breakfast menu entices!

        1. Stopped by this AM to get an onion and poppy bialy w/ cream cheese. Kinda crusty, but chewy enough and good flavor. Also tried what I call a morning bun, nice chew and crust again. Roland was sitting outside, thanked me. I said I was happy to see the vat of boiling water on the stove for real bagels.

          1. Breakfast is VERY GOOD... we had the California Omelet and the Corn Beef... with a danish and iced coffee this morning. Being picky about omelettes, we were very pleased with this one - it's cooked just the way we like it, not overdone — a tasty balance of flavors. The corn beef with potatoes, spinach and fried eggs is thick slices of corn beef with a generous portion of buttery potatoes - and perfectly over easy eggs.
            Parking is easy on this end of lower Haight.

            1. These are very good bagels. These are definately artisan bagels. But ... these are not NY bagels.

              Someone on yelp said they reminded them of Montreal bagels. I've never had those and they don't seem to match that description.

              You know, instead of putting Roland's in a category, I think they will star as being an original.

              One of the items to me that was fabulous was the assagio ... um ... roll? ... bagel?

              It doesn't have a hole in it but I think I finally found something I like more than Cheeseboard's cheese rolls. They are softer and they have black pepper in them ... lots and lots and lots of black pepper. I think I could be addicted to them.

              Walking in I took one look at those bagels and thought immediately 'Nope. not NY bagels": Too large, not shiny enough, too artisan-looking. But they looked good. Good enough that I bought one of each.

              The half of the onion bagel I tried confirmed it wasn't a NY bagel. Crusty, but not the right type of crust. But good. They are not quite the right density. But they are definately NOT an embarrasing pretender like Noah's. These are good in their own unique nitch.

              Oddly enough, I bought a round of bread that sort of looked like a sourdough loaf and that tasted EXACTLY like a NY bagel. The chew was right on the crust the bread density was bagel-true. I recommend it. They will slice it if you aski.

              They have bags of day-old bagels ... six bagels for $4.

              Yelpers were going on about the wonderful croissants. They are good but I like croissants a bit crispier and flakier.

              The thing it seems to me about Roland's is that while they are not updating anything, they are not recreating classics exactly. Take the Philly cheesesteak. They use jack cheese. However, they were making one while I was there and it looked really, really, really ... really good.

              They also have pizza bagels (not mentioned on the online menu). Your choice of bagel, 3 toppings and cheese.

              The quiche looked really good so I bought a piece for the weekend.

              I tried the coffee which is their own blend ... I forget who roasts it for them. There was some griping about it on yelp, but they got down the typical East Coast roast.

              They seem like really nice people. On Thurs-Sat they reopen at 8pm and stay open until 2pm. There's a bar next door and it seems they send sandwiches over to people in the bar. One night they are open until 3am, but I forget which it is. They serve breakfast at all times, so if you are looking for a Denver omelet at 1am, this is your place.

              They said they work working on a special late night menu. Lots is still in development. No cakes, cream puffs, canoli, or pies yet but they are in the works.

              I liked them. They are different ... in a good way.

              3 Replies
              1. re: rworange

                rw, that black pepper roll sounds wonderful. I am on a never-ending search for savoury pastries and so far the winner for me is the ham and cheese edifice from Acme :-). Might the one at Roland's have asiago in it? If so we are going to have to check it out as that is the SO's favourite Italian cheese.

                1. re: grayelf

                  the asiago bialy is indeed addictive; heated and served with cream cheese :D

                2. re: rworange

                  Maybe the sweetness mentioned by Cynsa reminded the Yelper of Montreal bagels, which have a bit of honey added to the boil (and use no salt at all). If they really are Montreal bagels, I'm there!

                3. Yep, wonderful bagels - and we picked up an almond croissant to see if he is a baker too, and they are wonderful - great croissant texture, and just perfect almond filling. Our son loved the jalapeno bialy - this place is great. The bagels definitely have the right texture and Roland is so nice.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Martha Copeland

                    I really liked the bagels too (well, "bagel", as in the plain bagel I tried). It did have a hint of sweetness - perhaps a Montreal-style touch of honey was added as mentioned above - but it was definitely better than Noah's and the mediocre bagels found all over SF.

                    1. re: Martha Copeland

                      An April Tablehopper report gave an overview of Roland and his background, including

                      "It’s a project from owners Philip Roland and Michael Green, who met in the baking program at City College. Roland’s background includes working at Sweet Inspirations, his Escape from San Francisco Bagels in Willits, and recently some part-time work at Mission Beach Café. Roland, an East Coastie, is going to be offering hand-rolled specialty bagels from a water bath......"


                    2. Any sightings of mini bagels - every now and then I have to get some for a brunch menu. Sort of hard to find - IIRC House of Bagels has them and Noah's does also ( and oddly enough the mini bagels at Noah's are of a totally different texture from their regular puffy ones)

                      2 Replies
                      1. Frankly, we were disappointed with these bagels, although it's probably a bit of an "expectations can only lead to disappointment" scenario. The bagels aren't bad, but I don't think they live up to the hype. They are, for one, too large -- almost as if they were flattened out too much. The crust is decent, but the interior reminded me too much of Noah's, although admittedly not as "fluffy."

                        What was most perplexing was that when my wife went in and asked for a dozen bagels, they looked at her like she was from outer space (her words). Also, at 10:00 on a Sunday, they were out of most varieties.

                        We'll stick with House of Bagels on Geary and the day olds from the shop on Townsend between 2d and 3d.

                        15 Replies
                        1. re: Jeff

                          Which is why I said that with one look it was clear they were not NY bagels. At $1.75 per bagel, I'm sure few people are ordering by the dozen for $21. I think they can be appreciated for what they are ... again a sort of artisan original ... but for me if I wanted a real bagel fix it would be Berkeley Bagel.

                          They toast up nicely. The sea salt was good.

                          1. re: rworange

                            I believe they charged us $1/bagel, and threw in the 13th free. Still too much.

                            Whatever they're charging, it shouldn't come as a surprise that a patron would say "I need a dozen . . . ."

                            1. re: Jeff

                              I think there's not that much of a "bagel culture" in SF compared to NY, which may explain why they don't expect people to roll in asking for a dozen to go.

                              Based on their menu, they seem to see themselves more as a cafe, a place to come in for breakfast, lunch, or a pastry and coffee. The bagel is apparently one of those pastries.

                            2. re: rworange

                              !.75 a bagel? My god! Mollie Stones doesn't even charge that much!

                              1. re: chipman

                                According to the menu that's with butter plus tax tip and I assume health surcharge.

                                1. re: wolfe

                                  A toasted bagel, buttered for 1.75? That doesn't seem outlandish.

                                  1. re: chipman

                                    In NYC you can typically get a bagel with eggs, cheese and maybe even bacon for around $2.50. So yes, for a buttered bagel that's pretty expensive. A plain Bagel should be under $1 (Lot's of places out east throw in some butter for say 10 cents over the cost of the bagel).

                                    I stopped by there the other day and it seemed quite expensive to me.

                                  2. re: wolfe

                                    I paid $1.75 for a cold, unsliced, untoasted tossed in the bag bagels. It was good -- i liked the crispness -- but way too large for a real bagel. And way too expensive, IMO.

                                    1. re: margieco

                                      Thank you. I was beginning to think I was ripped off ... or the price went up after 11 pm. Regular uncut, nothing on it bagel $1.75

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        1.75 for an untoasted unbuttered bagel to go is highway robbery.

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            Bigger does not necessarily mean better. Indeed, bigger portions are not exactly what this country needs. I'd rather have a normal size at an affordable price.

                                            And good lord, do we really need "artisan" bagels? I'm not even sure what that means. Assuming it means "made by hand," as Wikipedia suggests (see below), most bagels that don't come from a grocery store probably are made by hand.

                                            An artisan (from Italian: artigiano) is a skilled manual worker who crafts items that may be functional or strictly decorative, including furniture, clothing, jewelry, household items, and tools. The term can also be used as an adjective to refer to the craft of hand making food products, such as bread, beverages and cheese.

                                            1. re: Jeff

                                              I thought they were expensive but better when they were old! The texture got more chewy after sitting a half-day. They plain bagel tasted like it had whole wheat in it. For a hippy bagel it was wonderful.

                                2. re: rworange

                                  The two staff people behind the counter were dysfunctional when I was there, so nothing would surprise me. There are no prices posted or labels for the products which compounds the problem.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    Looking at their menu, they list a bagel at 1.50, a bagel with butter !.75, and a bagel with cream cheese at 2.50. Melanie is probably right in her conclusion.

                              2. We went this Saturday and got three bagels (plain with cream cheese, poppyseed with garlic spread, and everything with lox). The bagels were good, but certainly not the New York-style bagels I remember from my youth. The flavor was better than you get from any other bagelry around here, but they were not even close to chewy enough to compare with NY-style bagels.

                                The pastries looked delicious, and I liked the fact that they were of a more reasonable size (smaller) than you usually see in bakeries around here. I'll have to try them sometime soon and report.

                                1. Due respects to SF City College, but its baking program is not likely to turn out makers of real New York bagels. If Phillip Roland's bagels taste good and are worth the price, Buy them if you enjoy them and if they are worth the price.

                                  "New York Bagel" is just a label without much meaning. If you ask me, you can't even find "real" New York bagels in New York these days.

                                  Foodie semiotics needs an overhaul. We're too hung up on labels and concepts that are empty of meaning.
                                  New York bels

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Xiao Yang


                                    I've been a little flip in some replies. I got over that these were going to be NY bagels the minute I took one look at them. However, I have been enjoying them over the past couple of days for what they are. I think the price is a little steep ...maybe $1.25 would be the better price.

                                    NY bagels, whether they still exist anywhere today, were just so great. I've been wondering lately if I found a real NY bagel whether I'd even like it anymore.

                                    However, let me repeat this ... that bread they sell tastes more like a NY bagel than anything I've tried for years. I wish I asked what they call it, but it had the crust covered with seeds and stuff like a bagel. It just looks like sourdough. The bagels I am enjoying. Every time I have a slice of that bread ... with cream cheese ... I'm loving it.

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      Does anybody in SF sell real lox rather than nova?

                                      Real old-fashioned bagels have been extinct in Manhattan for a generation, but you can get them in Brooklyn. I had one last time I was in New York and it was great.


                                  2. Read somewhere Roland's has bialys? anyone try them? I miss Kossars but can't afford to ship them to SF.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: sharkfin

                                      Here's what I posted above in this thread.

                                      The bialys here are crustier and bigger than Kossar's. The onions are toasted here and not the rehydrated dried type that Kossar's uses. Also available in asiago and cheddar & jalapeno flavors.

                                    2. I went to try them and I can't say they are better than Noah's, just my opinion.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: walker

                                        most of the bagels i've tried on this coast lack the chewiness in the crumb combined with the firm, glossy crust that i associate with traditionally made (boiled, then baked) bagels. even the ones made in the local Jewish bakery (Grand in Oakland) by that method are too bready. i'd given up on finding any, but a visit to Brick Lane Beigelry in London's east end (they're only about 25 p. there--excellent bialys too) revived my hopes. the closest i've found here, for 80ç, are in Alameda at the Boogie Woogie Bagel Boy. (the 'artisan bakers' there is an Asian family i think) i can only vouch for the whole wheat, seeded or plain, and the pumpernickel, and plan to try the rye if they're ever available when i get over there.

                                      2. SFoodie is reporting that Roland's is closed, at least temporarily. I never made it out!


                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: abstractpoet

                                          The landlord kicked them out yesterday--7 a.m., all the employees outside, the door gated and chained. Their new space @ Hayes & Gough due to open in April.
                                          Now what will I do for fantastic morning buns in walking distance to Lower Haight?

                                          1. re: plainfood

                                            stop by Broderick and Fell at the Falletit Market for good (not Roland's) Morning Buns in the bagel bins between the Produce & Meat sections

                                            Falletti Foods
                                            308 Broderick St, San Francisco, CA

                                            1. re: Cynsa

                                              Any updates on a possible re-opening?

                                              1. re: mrs bacon

                                                Roland's Bagels SFoodie reports its resurfaced at Terra Bakery and Cafe on Hayes.

                                        2. i just had a REALLY good chewy crusty homemade bagel at Mission Beach Cafe on 14th and Guerrero...also a crusty custardy cannelle(sp)......

                                          Mission Beach Cafe
                                          198 Guerrero St., San Francisco, CA 94103

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                            I worked at mission beach that how sf started to taste my bagels and from there the buzzzzzzzz started and Rolands became known in the lower ht what is mission beach charging for there bagels