Seattle is in the midst of a bagel boom, with big names such as Rubinstein Bagels either ramping up production or opening more outlets.
Even bagel evangelist and New York Times food columnist Kenji López-Alt declared recently that the Emerald City boasts a bona fide bagel scene, telling The Seattle Times earlier this summer that the best spots here, such as Rachel’s Bagels & Burritos, Rubinstein Bagels and Loxsmith Bagels, “are just as good as the best bagels in New York.”
That pronouncement would have gotten Seattle laughed at three years ago. Remember when folks complained that our bagels are actually buns in disguise? No crackly crust. No chewy interior or pushback.
Well, the influx of legit bagel shops in the Seattle city limits has given our returning morning commuters and brunch crowd plenty to chew on.
Looking for a bagel reminiscent of those in the Big Apple? The dense version at Rachel’s Bagels & Burritos in Ballard hearkens to those malty, New York City-style bagels. Or maybe you prefer the distinctive sourdough tang of Rubinstein’s.
If you’re of the school of thought that bagels can only taste great when they get caramelized with lye, there’s Loxsmith Bagels.
Those who prefer hot-smoked salmon can revel in Old Salt’s take in Fremont.
Below is a bagel bulletin of all the bagel shops that are expanding in Seattle. (Sadly, Mt. Bagel, a favorite of many Seattleites, isn’t opening a storefront as rumored, so you have to be quick on the draw come high noon every Monday to score a delivery order on their website.)
Rubinstein Bagels near the Amazon campus is arguably the busiest bagel shop on weekends, and with office workers gradually returning, owner Andrew Rubinstein said business has picked up, “20% percent on weekdays from where we were earlier this year,” and “we are starting to see a comeback of commerce.” Rubinstein doubled the size of his sandwich assembly station and soon will add a second baking shift to keep up with demand, he said. By mid-September, he will expand with an outpost in the heavy foot-traffic area of 15th Avenue East on Capitol Hill, in the former Wandering Goose space.
Loxsmith Bagels, the beloved pop-up, has fulfilled the wishes of its fans by offering bagels and lox every week now after renting space during the day from the dive bar Nacho Borracho on Capitol Hill. There’s also a plancha grill station to make bodega-style egg sandwiches. Loxsmith has expanded with two dozen different flavors such as nori-sesame seed. Loxsmith currently opens Thursdays-Sundays, but owner Matthew Segal will add more hours and days of operations once he finds more kitchen help. The long-term goal, said Segal, is to set up bagel stalls near light rail stations.
In Fremont, Old Salt, which was meant to be a temporary pandemic pivot, has become such a hit that this pop-up is sticking around for good. Old Salt, which makes some of the best smoked fish in Seattle, is run by the team behind Manolin seafood bistro. Old Salt will continue to share space with Manolin, with the daytime dedicated to bagels and lox; come evening, the dining room shifts to Manolin’s seafood menu. Old Salt will also expand with an outpost in Ballard near Rupee Bar next year, management said.
The coho lox on an everything seasoning bagel at Old Salt made our food critic’s best sandwich list earlier this year.
Earlier this summer, Porkchop & Co. pivoted to focus more on bagels, even renaming the cafe Rachel’s Bagels & Burritos. The Ballard restaurant used to sell out by 10:30 a.m., so co-owner Paul Osher streamlined the menu and purchased more ovens and kitchen equipment, while sacrificing part of his dining space to expand his bagel production area. The good news is Osher now cranks out enough bagels to last until closing time.
Westman’s Bagel and Coffee has plans to add up to two more locations, but owner Monica Dimas is mums on the exact addresses.
The popularity of bagels has also created a demand for bagel sandwiches. Among the first to take advantage is Bagelbop, which set up a counter in Pike Place Market, hawking breakfast egg sandwiches and crab melts to the downtown office workers and tourists. The stall offers 15 different toppings, from poppy seed to asiago, with bagels from the Seattle Bagel Bakery.
Many bakeries and neighborhood cafes make their own bagels these days. Little Lago Grocer in Portage Bay has doubled its bagel production to meet the demand. In Ballard, the wood-fired oven bistro Samara has found a side hustle, selling onion bagels on weekends.
What’s your favorite bagel shop in Seattle? Tell us in the comments!