Food & Drink

San Francisco’s Best Bagel Stores

April 24, 2011 8:46 AM

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Bagels displayed at a delicatessen. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

Bagels displayed at a delicatessen. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

Growing up in San Francisco, I hadn’t yet tried bagels from New York, but my nascent taste for these holey, doughy creations didn’t prevent me from realizing San Francisco had something special to offer when it came to bagels. Perhaps it was the ubiquity of Noah’s or the fact that I could get my personal favorite, the slightly sweet bagels from the Marin Bagel Company at the Tower Market up the street from my house. Today, Tower Market has been renamed and no longer sells bagels from Marin Bagel Company, and Marin Bagel Company no longer operates out of its San Rafael storefront, but it’s still possible to find them, if you know where to look.
houseofbagels San Francisco’s Best Bagel Stores

House of Bagels uses real malt syrup and they boil their bagels before baking them on a stone hearth, unlike most San Francisco competitors which opt for the cheaper, less hands-on steam oven variety. (houseofbagels.com)

House of Bagels

5030 Geary Blvd
(between 14th Ave & 15th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94118
Neighborhood: Outer Richmond
(415) 752-6000
House of Bagels

House of Bagels is a old-time San Francisco staple. My grandfather remembered these bagels having the consistency of bagels in New York for good reason: House of Bagels uses real malt syrup and they boil their bagels before baking them on a stone hearth, unlike most San Francisco competitors which opt for the cheaper, less hands-on steam oven variety. Of course there are many newer, hipper bagel shops in San Francisco these days – storefronts that offer better service, ample seating and artistic décor – but these bagels are still the best in the city.  I recently learned House of Bagels merged with my beloved Marin Bagel Company (which now only sells wholesale), and these two companies share the same delectable recipe.

Noe Bagel

3933 24th Street
(between Noe St & Sanchez St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
Neighborhood: Noe Valley
(415) 643-9634
Noe Bagel

Although a steamed bagel may not satisfy the purist, Noe Bagel does have some inventive options that make it worth a visit, including a bagel baked with pesto and another with sundried tomato and onion. Noe Bagel prides itself on its freshness (although you can get a great deal on eight day-olds for $2.50) , the staff is friendly and the store has a nice, neighborhood feel.

Holey Bagel

3872 24th St
(between Sanchez St & Vicksburg St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
Neighborhood: Noe Valley
(415) 647-3334
Holey Bagel
Another staple of Noe Valley and the San Francisco bagel community, Holey Bagel has been in business for 30 years (although ownership changed about four years ago). The bagels are nice and crispy browned on the outside with the right amount of density on the inside – a testament to their boiled, not steamed status. Holey Bagels also offers some tasty, inventive sandwiches and smears and cracks open real eggs for their breakfast sandwiches – not the artificial stuff you get at many cafes.

Noahs Bagels

10 locations
Noah’s Bagels

With 10 San Francisco locations, there is likely a Noah’s near you. You won’t get community activism at Noah’s, nor will you have the satisfaction of supporting a local business, but you will get reliability and decent food. Keep in mind, Noah’s revels in the efficiency and cost effectiveness of steaming, not boiling, their bagels. This is not the place to go for tradition, but it is the place to go for a gigantic, fluffy bagel.

The Posh Bagel

266 Sutter St
(at Grant Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94108
Neighborhood: Union Square
(415) 951-0133
The Posh Bagel
Slightly smaller but equally as fluffy as Noahs, there is nothing extraordinary about these bagels, but they are still delicious with the house-made jalapeno cream cheese.  The service is reliable and friendly. This is a good place to drop in on if you’re starving after a day of shopping at Union Square.

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