- Contrary to popular belief, there are great bagels in Los Angeles –
- We tried three of LA’s favourite bagel spots to determine which one is our favourite
- The three contenders are Yeastie Boys Bagels, Courage Bagels, and Brooklyn Bagel Bakery
Following is a transcript of the video.
Sydney: People always say that Los Angeles has terrible bagels. I’m a former New Yorker, and it’s my mission to find the best bagels in LA. I know that there are good bagels in LA. We just have to find them. To help me in my mission of finding the best bagels in Los Angeles, I’m bringing my friend Evan Fox who owns Yeastie Boys Bagels to show me where the best ones in the city are. Evan’s going to take me to his truck, Yeastie Boys, we’re going to go to Courage Bagels in Silverlake, and we’re going to go to Brooklyn Bagels in Westlake.
We’re here to eat bagels!
First up, we’re heading to the Yeastie Boys truck parked outside Alfred Coffee in West Hollywood. This is the famous Evan Fox. He owns Yeastie Boys, which is right behind me.
Evan: Sure do.
Sydney: So tell me how Yeastie Boys came about.
Evan: So in 2014, we were just making bagels out of our apartment and just for fun. It was like, “Let’s start a band,” and we did, and we started kind of taking them to people around town to see what they think. People dug it, and they’re like, “Yo, we should do Coachella.” So I got in contact with them, they’re like, “Yep, great idea. Let’s go.” Week after that, we got our first truck, and then we’re now, two trucks later.
Sydney: So like, what gives you the authority to take me around LA and show me the best bagels the city has to offer?
Evan: I think I know what I’m doing.
Sydney: Yeastie Boys trucks go all over the city serving their giant bagels loaded with delicious toppings. They offer classics like lox and cream cheese or more hearty options like bacon, gooey cheese, and egg. Then there are some slightly more, let’s say, wild options like this one made with pastrami, fried eggs, melty cheese, and turkey. But before we try their bagels, let’s talk a bit about what makes a good bagel in the first place. You can hear the…
Evan: Yeah, baby.
It’s got that shell, you know? You want to hear the, you want that shell.
Sydney: So tell me, like, when you were developing this recipe and developing your bagels, what were you looking for? What was your hope?
Evan: I knew I wanted a chewy inside, and I knew that I wanted it big for sandwiches. So see these little bubbles right here? That comes from the gas convection oven that we use as well as the proofing time, which is very important when you make a bagel, cold proofing like you do pizza. Any good bagel will have that. Plus boiling them, those three things, most crucial component.
Sydney: I’m learning a lot.
Yeastie Boys makes its bagels at Diamond Bakery on Fairfax in LA.
It’s a legendary institution that’s been around since 1946 slinging bagels, pastries, and more. The bagels are 5 ounces each and remind me of what I can only describe as the best of both worlds between a Montréal-style bagel and a New York-style bagel. But more on that later.
So you have perfected the sandwich bagel?
Evan: Yeah, honestly, historically you go to a bagel place, and you get veggie cream cheese, and there’s like two pieces of carrot and a scallion in it.
Sydney: Uh huh.
Evan: And it’s like, wait, why don’t we just add veggie cream cheese, turkey, bacon, fried eggs, sprouts, tomato? It’s just fun, you know? Yeah, I wanted, like, a bagel sandwich.
Sydney: That’s what I need, like, on a Saturday or a Sunday morning.
Evan: Hangover life, big time.
Sydney: Absolutely. Well, we’ve talked about bagels. I’m starving.
Evan: Let’s eat.
Sydney: Let’s eat.
Evan: Look at that.
Sydney: And that is some cream cheese, those are some lox. That’s what’s up, and poppy seeds, you can’t beat it. I love the texture that you get with poppy-seed bagels.
Evan: Me too.
Sydney: It’s got, like, the right amount of bite to it. A lot of lox in here as well. You know what’s up. You know what you’re doing. I’m glad you’re taking me on a bagel adventure because you’re the guy.
Customer: I mean, we just moved down the street, and we see this truck all the time, and this is my second time, so definitely going to become loyal to the bagels.
Evan: A lot of people like cream cheese on both sides, bottom and top. Dude, just 2 to 3 ounces of cream cheese is way more than enough. If you’re doing top and bottom, it’s too much for me. At least that’s my taste.
Sydney: I agree.
Evan: You know what I’m saying?
Sydney: Yeah, it’s not about the cream cheese. It’s about the bagel. Although there are people that are cream-cheese fiends. I do know many people who would happily say that cream cheese is their favourite food. I’m looking at you, Charlie Weisman.
Charlie: True story, cream cheese is my favourite food. I’m excited to talk about it.
Sydney: I’m back in New York already.
Evan: Oh, yeah.
Sydney: What I really love about these bagels is that the bottom also is like a pizza.
Sydney: Like pizza crust on the bottom. This is delicious. You know what’s up.
Evan: Thank you.
Sydney: So please show me all the other bagels that I’m missing out on.
Evan: Let’s go crush it.
Sydney: And let’s prove that LA has awesome bagels.
The next day, I met up with Evan at Courage Bagels in Silverlake.
We’re here to get the best bagels ever.
All right, so it’s Sunday.
Sydney: You left your truck.
Evan: Yeah, I left my business.
Sydney: To come here.
Sydney: And eat Courage Bagels.
Evan: Worth it.
Sydney: Absolutely, so they are set up at Broome Street General Store, which is really kind of bougie, and everything in there’s really expensive, but I also want to buy it.
Evan: $US70 candles.
Sydney: $US70 candles, but you can also get really delicious bagels. I’m really, really excited to try these ones. I am a big Montréal-style-bagel fan. How do you feel about Montréal-style bagels? Evan: My favourite style. Sydney: Really?
Evan: Yes. It’s… So for sandwiches no, but for just everyday bagels and bagels and cream cheese, just eating them, 100%.
Sydney: Can you explain to me what the difference between a New York-style bagel and a Montréal-style bagel is?
Evan: For sure, for sure, so the New York-style bagels are fat, plump, chewy. It’s almost like a mini Neapolitan pizza. They’re so fat and plump. Montréal, they’re usually boiled in honey, so they’re a little sweeter. They’re artisan. They’re much thinner and crispier and crunchy, and it’s almost like you have to really sit there and enjoy it.
Sydney: Yeah, what he said. Partners Arielle Skye and Chris Moss offer farm-fresh toppings like heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and labneh for their Montréal-style bagels.
Arielle: I lost my job, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I wanted to do something. And I worked for a really crappy company, so I was like, I need something like real and pure and like with my hands. And that just turned into bagels randomly, and shortly after that, I started selling them on my bicycle around the neighbourhood. And then last summer, we got into a farmers market, and now here we are.
Chris: She’s obsessed with the history of bagels and bread in general, which is so fascinating. So she started reading to me from this book, and in this book it was talking about how bagels represent Jewish courage, which we both, like, love. And right when she said that, I was like, “That’s the name, Courage Bagels.” There’s no commercial yeast, so they’re all wild-yeasted, and we kind of adhere to principles of baking that are probably thousands of years old. You know, flour and water left out to collect the natural bacteria and yeast that are in the air and on people’s hands and in the flour itself. It makes for a much more digestible bread or bagel in this case, and it also makes the flavour incredible.
Sydney: The texture, we get this really crisp almost like a glassine crust, but then inside it’s tender, and it’s chewy, and it’s really flavorful. Sydney: The thing that really sets these bagels apart for me though is that you can get them slightly burnt. I know, it’s kind of weird, but it’s super delicious. The one thing New York bagels definitely don’t have is fresh produce like this. Fresh tomato, fresh cucumber, the onions even smell good.
Evan: Like, where do get a tomato like this?
Sydney: Not in New York, that’s for sure.
Sydney: All right, let’s go for it because I’m dying. It’s so crunchy.
Evan: Yeah, it’s really good.
Sydney: Mmm-hmm, like, I love how it’s burnt. It’s a little nutty, and the labneh is just, you know, it’s really mild and nice and, like, light I think compared to traditional cream cheese.
Evan: They must put some lemon juice in here too.
Sydney: Mmm-hmm, this rules. It’s so good
Sydney: This is California for me.
Sydney: Holy cow.
I think these are some of the best lox I’ve had in LA.
Evan: I was just going to say that.
Evan: Where is this from?
Sydney: I don’t know. I didn’t even ask. I just saw lox, and I said, “Yes, give me lox.”
Evan: Lox aren’t like prosciutto, don’t call me. Got to be paper-thin like this.
Sydney: You can call me. I’ll eat any lox. Thanks for leaving your truck today to come.
Evan: I know, worth it.
Sydney: Crispy, crunchy, Montréal-style. Much different than the other bagels we’ve had. I love it.
Our last stop on this bagel tour is Brooklyn Bagel Bakery. The shop opened in 1953, but it had to close in 2015 due to a wall collapse in the original space. In 2018 though, it made a triumphant return and has gotten back to cranking out some of LA’s favourite bagels.
Customer: I’ve been coming here since 1982. Every day I would come, and one Saturday I came, Saturday night, and they would open after Shabbat at 8 p.m., and I would see the fire on, just started the oven, and fresh bagels in half an hour, one hour. Not too many people can do as original as they can do here. It’s unbelievable what they do.
Sydney: Their production facility makes thousands and thousands of bagels for both the shop and for wholesale.
The bagels are slightly smaller than what you might find in New York, but they definitely have more of an old-school feel than other places we’ve tried. I have not had these bagels yet.
Evan: Let’s try ’em.
And it’s got that nice tap that you want to hear.
Evan: Yeah, oh wow, dang.
Sydney: I love poppy seed. The texture is so good.
Evan:You’ve got to try this.
Sydney: Yeah, let’s trade. Here, take the other half of mine.
Sydney: Oh yeah, yeah, what are we doing?
Was not expecting that.
And you know what else I like about this is the size.
Evan: Three-and-a-half-ounce bagel, that’s what’s up.
Sydney: Right size.
Evan: The reason I really like these.
Evan: Sometimes when you toast it, the chewiness, like, is gone.
Sydney: Yeah, and that’s a thing in New York, like you don’t toast the bagel.
You don’t toast them.
So here they make them hot, so they’re doing that, but it has that chewy texture. I like the crunch on the outside.
Sydney: The other thing that I love is the original sign that they have with the original prices. A quarter for a bagel, 25 cents.
Evan: How you gonna have a baker’s dozen for $US2?
Sydney: It says if you buy $US59 worth of bagels in cash, you get a free dozen.
Evan: Ready for that.
Sydney: I think that we’ve done a pretty good job eating here today. And these bagels are pretty great.
Evan: I agree.
Sydney: Yeah, right size, good chew. Different method than what Evan uses, so it’s kind of fun to see how LA has different kinds of bagels, and great to see that they have reopened and kind of saved this legendary business.
Evan: This is such a beautiful spot. It’s an institution for sure.
Sydney: The time has come. We’ve eaten some of LA’s best bagels, and now I have to pick my favourite one.
First up, Yeastie Boys.
So the thing about Yeastie Boys is that they’re the best version of, like, a New York-style bagel meets a Montréal-style bagel. And I’m from New York, but my mum’s also Canadian, so it combines my two favourite things. The Yeastie Boys bagels are big enough and, like, hefty enough for you to be able to load them up with whatever toppings you want. I’m talking cream cheese. I’m talking bacon. I’m talking lox. I’m talking cheese.
Next, Courage Bagels.
Courage Bagels are more of the Montréal-style bagel. They’re on the other side of the spectrum of bagels that we’ve tried in this experiment, if you will. They’re really crispy on the outside, nice and chewy on the inside, but there’s a ton of little air pockets of dough, and that comes from the natural-yeasted dough that they use. And so there’s little pools that you can fill up with cream cheese or labneh or whatever other toppings you want, and I really, really liked that.
And finally, Brooklyn Bagel Bakery.
They’re definitely more of like an old-school-style bagel. It reminds me the most of New York of all the bagels we tried. They make a slightly smaller bagel, which is kind of nice if you’re not looking to eat a giant sandwich and you just want some cream cheese, some lox. Nothing fancy, Brooklyn Bagel Company is perfect for that. It’s definitely the place you would go to grab a bag of bagels to bring to the office. There’s something for everyone in LA, and I think that after seeing all the different bagels that we tried, nobody can say that LA doesn’t have good bagels. We’ve proven that they do.
If I have to pick a favourite, it’s gonna be Courage Bagels.
I know, I’m sorry, but they’re Montréal-style. I have a soft spot for that. It’s my personal favourite. Everyone else I’m sure has a preference. But for me, it’s gonna be Courage Bagels. The reason I loved Courage so much was because the outside’s really crispy, and the inside is really light and airy. It’s not heavy. It’s not dense. And I love that they give you the option to buy a burned bagel because I love that really nice depth of flavour you get from burning something just a little bit. And their toppings are premium. I mean, like I said, the heirloom tomatoes, the nice olive oil, the sea salt, the labneh, the za’atar. They run the gamut of interesting ingredients, and bagels are all great, but when you add something unique like that, it just takes it to another level.
I hope we’ve shown you that LA has awesome bagels. We’re having kind of like a bagel renaissance in Los Angeles right now, so I hope you go try some of them. Let us know if we missed anywhere, and enjoy.
Paul, come here.
All right, so Paul and I are going to eat some more bagels, right, buddy?
He also wants to go find some dogs. OK, bye.
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