A panel of tasters in the SF Chronicle Food Department just conducted a taste test of 10 of the Bay Area's more respected bagel shops, and they conclude that we do, indeed, have good bagels to show for ourselves out here. (Ahem, SFist made a similar assessment back in 2016.)
The latest bagel-judging roundup coincides with the June 15 opening of Daily Driver in Dogpatch, the expansive new bagelry that also makes its own European-style butter Jersey milk cream cheese for smearing on the bagels. And the tasters conclude that Daily Driver's wood-fired bagels are, indeed, excellent, though they take third place in the ranking, with tasters saying they have "a great chew and crust."
First place is actually shared by two spots, one that's been operating in Oakland for several years and one that is just one year old. Beauty's Bagels, which draws long lines at their two shop in Oakland's downtown and Temescal district for their wood-fired beauties, gets praise for complex flavor and "levain-like texture." (Notably, Beauty's was also SFist's #1 back in 2016.) And SF's one-year-old Pearl 6101 in the Richmond district, also wins top honors, with the tasters saying the bagels have "supreme crustiness and malty flavor."
The news isn't as great for the ever-expanding Wise Sons Bagels, which come in 8th place and which they say (and I'd have to agree here) are "solid yet unspectacular."
Marla Bakery's bagels rank a bit higher at 7th, though they're criticized for being bland; and "a random Cambodian-owned cafe" in Emeryville called Dee Spot takes 4th place, and gets praise for "great texture with a crisp exterior."