Top 6-17: Bagels in Boston
Whether you’re looking to shake up your Sunday brunch routine or you want to start carb-loading early for the Boston Marathon a few months early, Very Local has your number. We’ve tried many of the bagel places in the area, and here are some of our favorites.
New York. Montreal. Boston?
Sure, the 617 might be best known for clam chowder, Indian pudding, and Sunday roasts. Over the past few years, however, a series of small-batch bagel shops have risen – like yeast, you might say – around the Greater Boston area. Whether you’re looking to shake up your Sunday brunch routine or you want to start carb-loading early for the Boston Marathon a few months early, Very Local has your number. We’ve tried many of the bagel places in the area, and here are some of our favorites.
📍186 Winthrop St, Medford, MA 02155
At the head of the pack is Goldilox, a bakery that opened in the fall of 2019. After testing their bagels at home and putting together some pop-ups, Lindsay Gaudet and Ed Thill took over a storefront on the Medford Hillside that’s open for take-out three days a week.
The bagels from Goldilox have a slightly sweet flavor that contrasts with both the standard bagel toppings and the monthly specials. The dough bakes up into a pleasantly light round that is still dense enough to support your favorite sandwich fillings. While you can make a delicious sandwich on these bagels, they’re also great on their own with cream cheese or the spread of your choice.
Black Sheep Bagels
📍56 John F. Kennedy St, Cambridge, MA 02138
Walking through the doors of Black Sheep Bagels in Harvard Square can feel like stepping into a time machine. The leafy green decor and quirky sheep decorations look like something you’d see in the Cambridge of the 1970s. Their unusual bagel varietals and new versions of classic sandwiches (care for an avocado toast on a za’atar bagel?) have a California-crunchy quality that’s similar to the healthy fare that many mid-century Cambridge restaurants made.
The bagels are a bit on the dense side to support the toppings on their open-face sandwiches. Black Sheep balances the sweeter taste profile of bread with a more savory flavor, which complements the toppings and fillings. If you’re looking for a great sandwich bagel, Black Sheep is the place to go.
📍100 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02108
If you’re in the Financial District and looking for a good breakfast or lunch option, check out Levend Bagelry. The distinctive crackling crust of their bagels allows toppings like salt and everything to seep into the dough, and the delicious umami flavor – which comes in part from the use of sourdough culture – is a nice complement to sandwich offerings like smoked salmon.
Levend is the brainchild of Bolton native Alex Jong, who was disappointed in the frozen bagels and local chains available to Boston residents. The entrepreneur perfected his bagel recipe and sold his wares at pop-ups and farmer’s markets. When the Boston Public Market opened in 2015, Levend Bagelry was a natural fit for the market. If you’re picking up bagels in person, make sure to watch the employees roll and boil the dough–it’s fun to see how bagels get made!
Better Bagels Boston
📍83a Seaport Blvd, Boston, MA 02210
The bagels made by this hole-in-the-wall bakery might remind you of a Kaiser roll. The swirled crust, with its flecks of cornmeal, and the chewy, layered insides give it a hybrid bagel/roll feel. Better Bagels’ bagels have a subtle, savory flavor, and their toppings don’t overpower the toppings and sandwich fillings. While they have a somewhat squishy texture, the fillings stayed in place.
The bakers behind this low-key bagel shop made a name for themselves in the 2010s as the bagel suppliers for various high-end local restaurants. Their standalone storefront opened in the Seaport in 2017, where they sold out their grand opening weekend and have done great business ever since.
📍421 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02445
If you want a real throwback, head out to Coolidge Corner for Kupel’s Bakery. This bakery opened on the site of the local chain Bagel King, and has been serving up traditional New York-style bagels and kosher baked goods for over four decades.
The dough has a savory, yeasty flavor that borders on the bland, and some of the flavors of the toppings tend to overwhelm it. The dough strikes a satisfying medium between airy and dense, making this a great sandwich bagel.
📍1796 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140
This small bagel shop has come a long way in the past nine years. Owner Mary Ting Hyatt started selling homemade bagels at the Brookline sandwich shop Cutty’s, developing unusual and delicious flavor combinations (honey-rosemary cream cheese on a salt bagel, anyone?) before opening a standalone bagel shop in Cambridge’s Porter Square.
The use of a years-old sourdough starter gives Bagelsaurus’s bagels a pleasantly umami flavor that compliments the house-made cream cheese, and the crackly crust gives toppings a good grip without overwhelming the flavor of the dough. The texture of the bagels, however, falls solidly in the airy category, which means that some of the fillings might fall out. (The delicious smoked salmon tasted just as good eaten out of the bagel wrapper as it did on the bagel.)
While these six bagel shops represent some of the best bagels Boston has to offer, they only represent the tip of the iceberg (bread-berg?). Did we miss your favorites? Sound off on Twitter or join us in the comments!