Seattle Dining Guide

Seattle Bagels: A Field Guide

Because a good everything bagel is everything.

By Allecia Vermillion Published in the Fall 2020 issue of Seattle Met


Once upon a time, Seattle had a startling lack of bagels. And then...that changed! Which is a wonderful thing. Now, folks have been known to conduct actual conversations wagering whether Seattle's bagel scene can rival that of New York City. Which, okay. Let's not be ridiculous about this.

Committed fans of the Northeast's particular breed of bagel won't starve, exactly, in our corner of the world. But some of our best bagels also benefit from Seattle's talents with sourdough. Or from our serious stakes in the art of smoking salmon. Folks who appreciate the "Must See TV" charm of french toast– or pesto-flavored bagels have their bases covered, too. Along the way, Seattle also said goodbye to a few bagel greats. Or goodbye for now, at least—Mt. Bagel is staging a comeback.

One local baker recently signed off on an email to me, "Happy to be another tile in the Seattle bagel and pizza mosaic." A mosaic—that feels like a good way to look upon our current carb-based riches. And so, here are the best parts and pieces of Seattle's no-longer-new bagel scene.

Bagel Oasis


The dining room may look like an Einstein’s that time forgot, but the soul of a New York deli lurks in the counter's many bagel baskets. Bagel Oasis has been here since 1988, boiling and baking and earning fierce love that deserves to transcend the neighborhood. At their best, bagels are crackly on the outside, soft and dense within. (The shop makes a sourdough bagel, a separate creature from its mainstay varieties, even bialys.) A staggering list of sandwich options includes fancy omelets, deli classics, and stacks of lox. The relatively small “egg on a bagel” menu will reward you with a pitch-perfect BEC sandwich.

Ben and Esther's Vegan Jewish Deli

Capitol Hill

Few things capture the essence of Pike/Pine better than a Jewish deli where every last brisket sandwich and black-and-white cookie is plant-based. Since bagels are classically vegan, they fit right in, too. This Portland-founded chainlet has a dedicated bagel recipe, baked for them by the folks at Zylberschtein’s. Eight varieties are ready to be schmeared with house-whipped cream cheese, actually made from plant starches and refined coconut oil (aka no nuts). The flavor and texture can pass muster, even with omnivores. Bagel sandwich options include plant-free versions of (carrot) lox, steak and eggs, and a BEC that does a reasonable job harnessing the basic charms of a NYC bodega.

Blazing Bagels

Bellevue, Ravenna, Redmond, SoDo

Seattle’s homegrown bagel chain opened in 2001, an era of bagelry that was all about flavors. Four funkily industrial shops fill wire display baskets with 30ish options that range from french toast to pesto to rosemary; categories on the menu include “Cheesy” and “Meat Topped.” These bagels have a fan base, for sure, one that perplexes bagel purists.
Poppyseed and sesame seed bagel

Eltana: Bagels aren't straight Montreal style, but they do see the inside of a wood-burning oven.


Capitol Hill, Wallingford

They’re not Montreal-style bagels, exactly, but these slender little numbers do share some characteristics. Eltana boils its bagels in honeyed water and fires them in a wood-burning oven, a prep that allows poppy or sesame seeds to coat the entire surface, not just the top. The result is slightly fatter than a true Montreal ring, with a dense crumb, its architecture more apodment than open-air. Eltana’s bagels also benefit from a menu of spreads that plug into Levantine flavors, like a bright combo of red pepper and walnut, harissa hummus, or honey almond cream cheese. Since the pandemic's onset, the company has supplemented its shops with a neighborhood delivery service. 

Little Market at Portage Bay

Portage Bay

Thanks to bagel aficionados Melissa Santos and Sean Keeley for shining a light on the daily bagels at the grocer formerly known as Little Lago. Even under the new name, it remains a great Italian-leaning market that also dispatches pizza, pastries, and gelato. Are the bagels an outlier? Yes. Are they golden on the outside, bubbled with those tiny blisters? Also, yes. Clearly baker and co-owner Chaney Steinway knows her way around gluten. Each bite crackles like a potato chip; insides are softer than the fluffiest dinner roll. Steinway makes a few flavors a day, including most of the basics, plus a salt and pepper version that’s a nice swerve on the cacio e pepe bagel trend.


Beacon Hill, West Seattle

A brick-and-mortar location on Beacon Hill will open soon. Until then, Matthew Segal sells bagels and bagel sandwiches for pre-order and pickup on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings in West Seattle. Loxsmith acquired a fan base during its popup days, especially for anything that involves his lox, hot-smoked salmon, ikura, and other cured fish. More to come on Loxsmith once it settles into permanent quarters.

Old Salt Fish and Bagels


During the pandemic, the staff at seafood-focused Manolin chose bagels over burgers for their pandemic pivot—why shake a tambourine when you can take up the violin? Chef Liz Kenyon invested tons of trial and error in a bagel that's chewy (occasionally even crunchy) on the exterior, and soft inside. Today, Old Salt is a permanent fixture inside Manolin, with a focused menu of five bagel flavors and five schmears. These are solid bagel specimens, but no surprise—the kitchen is very good at smoking fish. Any sandwich or spread that involves hot-smoked salmon or cold-smoked cod wins the day.

Oxbow's "soft but not bready" bagels come in eight flavors, including classic poppyseed.

Image: Amber Fouts



Sea Wolf Bakers, one of the town’s most esteemed breadmakers, has opened a meditative bakery in Montlake, a bagel-baking kin to their original spot on Stone Way. Oxbow fills its baskets with eight types of bagels, including salt, cinnamon raisin, poppyseed, and a restrained everything flavor where fennel seeds dominate the conversation. The kitchen even makes a pumpernickel, the delightfully underrated curmudgeon of bagel flavors. The doughy erudition that defines Sea Wolf also defines these bagels. A bit of sourdough helps achieve that elusive “soft, but not bready” texture. Sturdy exteriors crunch rather than crackle. Eight spreads include peanut butter and various cream cheeses, including a warming version with Calabrian chilies.

Rachel's Bagels and Burritos: Za'atar on a bagel? Brilliant.

Rachel's Bagels and Burritos


Bagels became such a thing at the former Porkchop and Co. brunch destination that owners Paul Osher and Raquel Zamora changed the name and just…went with it. The restaurant still operates as a (busy) counter-service spot, dispensing darker-hued bagels in flavors like za’atar or togarashi or cherry-poppy, not to mention the classics (everything bagels make up about 50 percent of the kitchen’s bagel output). The menu of add-ons is ample—huckleberry or black truffle cream cheese, everything chili crisp, lox. But a lineup of 10 bagel sandwiches does the heavy lifting for you; combos like roast pork loin with avocado, cucumber, hummus, and sumac onions make it clear, this place used to be a full-on restaurant.

Rubinstein Bagels

Capitol Hill, South Lake Union

In four short, schmear-filled years, Andrew Rubinstein went from an accomplished painter to our town's eminent purveyor of fine bagels. And from popups to two humming stores, with another in Redmond due to open in April. Driving this burgeoning empire: a bagel that's chewy on the outside, with a soft interior and just a whisper of sourdough, for structure. A baker's dozen flavors include all the classics as well as flexes like cacio e pepe or chocolate and cherry. Plus a ton of sandwiches, in breakfast and lunch iterations.

Westman's Bagel and Coffee: Flavors like cinnamon-currant are uncommon but not excessive.

Westman's Bagel and Coffee

Capitol Hill, University District

Monica Dimas’s Capitol Hill walk-up serves nine types of bagels, plus some classic sandwiches centered on lox or avocado or whitefish salad. But this is the house the BEC built. It’s the thick pillow of egg and the marigold-yellow cheddar that stretches into melty strings that has people lining up on Madison in pajama pants on weekend mornings and jockeying for a yellow stool in the world’s tiniest open-face dining room. A new location in the University District has those same soft, chewy bagels, the same lines, and four proper walls (but no seating area).

A stack of Seattle bagel goodness.

Zylberschtein's Delicatessen and Bakery


Josh Grunig has boiled and baked a neighborhood anchor inside a tidy, semi-suburban Pinehurst strip mall. Zylberschein’s is a sort of deli-bakery hybrid, serving croissants and chopped liver on rye—and lots and lots of bagels. They’re rolled by hand (thus the varied shapes) with glossy, dark surfaces and chewy innards. The kitchen has expanded beyond its original repertoire of the classics, adding cinnamon raisin, garlic, onion, pumpernickel, jalapeno, and (trend alert) cacio e pepe to the lineup. Most sandwiches here are of the non-bagel variety, but the kitchen has staples like lox, whitefish, and egg-and-cheese at the ready. Bagels can sell out fast, but a bagel delivery club born during the 2020 shutdown is still going strong.

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