The Best: Delicious bagels and great schmears served out of a literal hole-in-the-wall. Might Not Like: The service is on the slower side because the bagels are made to order, and they are not exactly obese bagels, but they taste like real bagels.
I am not a dyed in the wool New Yorker, but I did grow up kind of NYC adjacent, and I got to spend a fair amount of time in The City. There is just something about that city. The hustle, the sounds, the people, the food. Let me say that again. THE FOOD. While I don’t really miss the freezing cold air that rockets between the buildings and the spaces between your ribs during the winter months, I do miss pasta and pastrami and cheesecake and bagels. I miss the delight that is wandering into a dark, hidden door and emerging after an amazing meal. I miss the underground feel of the dining scene and THE FOOD. LA has been a culinary adjustment for me, and no matter how great some foods are, there are others you always miss.
Bagels in their mass production have become a shadow of their former selves. They can be purchased on shelves and in most coffee shops, and with the hole in the middle and a healthy helping of schmear, they look ok. But they are so often not what a bagel was meant to be. The bubbly exterior, the chewy interior, the slightest crunch, the perfect tug of teeth to dough. The flavor, the bagelness. If all this talk of bagels has you wanting to learn more about this humble bread, Slate has a great article.
As a displaced Northeasterner, I was thrilled to find Belle’s Bagels. They have delicious bagels with holes in the centers and they are served out of a literal hole-in-the-wall. Camped out in the BurgerLords spot that serves out of the window of the Hi-Hat music venue in Highland Park, these bagels are legit. They are chewy, they have the slight crunch, they are tasty, and they almost take me back.
You can order one of their simple bagels made with quality ingredients like Central Milling Flour and topped with a variety of delicious schmears from the Sierra Nevada Cheese Co. or if you walk more on the vegan side, they have what people say is a great cashew schmear. You can also order a bagel sandwich with lox or avocado or the special, which is usually awesome looking. It’s a simple menu done well.
After your order, you stand around on the sunny LA sidewalk with a collection of hipsters and kids and other people in search of perfection. And sometimes you have to wait quite a while, which does cause some people to twitch a little because while LA does not have icy rocketing winds, we do have this little thing called the scorching sun of death that shines down and singes the ends of our eyelashes. But if you’re clever, you can stand under an awning that is just down the block until they call your number. And then you can go back to your car and blast the air and eat your bagel and fall in love.
This place is the definition of hip. I think it’s trendy…I mean there are usually quite a few people there. It’s not spendy, but the bagels are a little on the smaller side, so the ratio of bagel to dollar is a little disadvantageous.