It’s accepted knowledge that New York City has great bagels and Los Angeles has great tacos (and celebrity sightings), right? In truth, Los Angeles has long been able to boast great Jewish food.
It was with this in mind that I sat down over buttered sourdough toast, scrambled eggs and steaming mugs of hot coffee with TV producer, writer and comedian Dan Gregor, a New York transplant to Los Angeles, to ask a very important question: Are there good bagels in LA? The answer was: absolutely, although Gregor, and many others, have strong opinions about which one is best, and why. He ranks Courage at the top, followed by Belle’s and then Maury’s.
For many years, the narrative has persisted that only New York City has the right water to make the best bagels, but this isn’t true. The key to great bagels is far less about the water, and more about quality ingredients, a high gluten level in the dough, hand rolling, and the boiling and baking process. In California and beyond, there are many bagelries committed to doing bagels “the right way.”
Here’s a list of the absolute best bagels we could find throughout Los Angeles. This article was put together with the bagel expertise of 70 Faces Media staffers including Deborah Kolben, Jacob Gurvis and Isabella Armus.
Many of the top-ranked bagel operations in Los Angeles only opened fairly recently, in the past 5-10 years. But Brooklyn Bagel Bakery, which started in 1953, is the exception — and the old-school favorite. They feature bagels in more than 25 different flavors, from all the classics to a mouth-watering onion-cheese variety. Perhaps most importantly, it is rumored to be the only place where Larry David gets his bagels. If that’s not the ultimate endorsement, I don’t know what is.
What started as a pop-up at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market several years ago is now a full-fledged bagel operation located in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Maury’s features a New York-style bagel that is soft and chewy. Their menu includes all the classics you crave from a bagel shop, in addition to more unique ingredients, like wasabi tobikko roe, smoked trout salad, and cultured cashew cream cheese for the vegans. One staffer described Maury’s as “absolutely perfect,” and believe me: Our staff knows bagels.
Known for their Montreal-style bagels, Courage is considered one of the top bagelries you can find in Los Angeles. As one of our West Coast contributors phrased it, they are “the celebrity of LA bagels.” They are known to feature beautiful California produce as part of their bagel sandwiches, but the lines can be very long, so be warned.
Beloved LA food critic Jonathan Gold wrote about Wexler’s: “If there is a better version of lox and bagels in Los Angeles, I have yet to taste it.” Wexler’s made a name for themselves with their spiced house-made pastrami, classic deli sandwiches and impressively thin cut smoked salmon. They have two in-person locations (Santa Monica and Downtown), though you can also order their bagels, smoked fish and meat through Goldbelly.
Like many others on this list, Belle’s started from the ground up: from home baking to pop-ups to, finally, their own shop. They pride themselves on using good, simple ingredients to create the best product possible. Their beet cream cheese made with beets, lemon and dill is not to be missed, or check out their “PEC:” pastrami, egg and cheese on a bagel. The bagels are glossy and have great chew.
Some enthusiastically tout Yeastie Boys as their favorite, while others love to hate on it, but regardless, it is consistently rated one of the best bagels you can find in Los Angeles. Yeastie Boys actually started as a roaming bagel truck back in 2016 and now has 5 trucks with a regular weekend schedule, which means you’re never that far away from a Sunday good bagel fix. You can get a classic bagel and schmear or one of their more unique creations, from their “Reubenstein” (their version of a classic Reuben on an everything bagel) to their PB&J on a blueberry bagel or a vegan bagel sandwich with roasted pepper spread, tomato, onion and sprouts.
Bagel & Slice may seem a little gimmicky at first, with their promise of New York-style pizza and bagels done right in the heart of LA, but their bagels are legit, with the right combination of crispy exterior and chewy interior. Bagel & Slice is basically the menu of my dreams (pizza and bagels), plus they operate with some lofty goals in mind, seeking to serve affordable food, use sustainable ingredients and pay a fare wage.
With two locations in Burbank and Sherman Oaks, Hank’s may not be the most conveniently located (unless you are me, and your family lives in Burbank) but their hand-rolled sourdough bagels are not to be missed. There is a special flavor each day of the week, and I would highly recommend their salty pretzel bagel or rosemary bagel when they have them, and also their house-cured gravlax. These definitely aren’t quite NYC bagels — the bagel is much airier, and less dense and chewy than a typical New York bagel — but they are delicious nonetheless.
Modern Bread & Bagel is already well known as a gluten-free bakery and cafe, which started in New York City and has since been named one of the best bagels in the city, gluten or no gluten. Their Los Angeles outpost is no different, already making it onto other “best bagels of Los Angeles” lists, and delighting anyone with a gluten intolerance. Modern Bread & Bagel is also certified kosher.
This family business has been running out of its original location on National and Sepulveda since the early 70s (though has since opened two additional locations). It’s a rare spot that serves up straightforward, high-quality kosher bagels and challah with flavors from sesame to a swirly neon rainbow bagel. Their products are always fresh, with a proper chew to fluff ratio, and can be topped with cream cheese, fish, or even an omelet. The real crowning achievement of The Bagel Factory is their top-notch catering service, making this carb plant the perfect choice for a very hungry crowd of bagel purists — it won’t disappoint.
Bagel Broker doesn’t offer crazy flavors or sell bagels out of a food truck, but they have been producing consistently good-quality bagels since 1987. They are a favorite among Los Angelenos for no-frills bagel and schemer, and they also cater, so they’re perfect for all your lox platter needs.
If you grew up in the Valley, Western Bagel was probably a staple of your childhood. After all, Western Bagel has been producing great bagels since 1947! With 11 locations, the company is the largest bagel manufacturing organization on the West Coast, and also ships nationwide.