Two new bagel purveyors — Schlok's Bagels and Midnite Bagel — are opening brick-and-mortar shops at long last in San Francisco, adding to the growing and increasingly well respected West Coast bagel pantheon.
It wasn't that long ago that transplanted San Franciscans who came from the East Coast — specifically New York — lamented long and hard about how impossible it was to find a decent bagel in the Bay Area. There were theories about how the water in Manhattan must just be that much more perfect for producing the ideal bagel, or maybe it was something in the yeast.
The New York Times sent shockwaves through the food-media realm last spring when it deigned to assert that California now makes the best bagels in the country. (I've yet to find a bagel anywhere that compares to Absolute Bagels on the Upper West Side of Manhattan... fight me.) And it cited as examples Boichik Bagels in Berkeley and Midnite Bagel, the pop-up and delivery-based bagel business launched in 2019 by former Tartine head baker Nick Beitcher.
Now, as Eater reports, we only have to wait a few more months before Midnite Bagel will have a brick-and-mortar home in the Inner Sunset — though you can still order bagels for delivery or pick some up at Bi-Rite or Rainbow, and Beitcher has a production facility already up and running at 23rd and 3rd streets. Midnite Bagel has inked a lease for the former Tea 4 You space at 646 Irving Street, which Eater broke the news of last month.
Beitcher says it will be a "small, no-frills bagel shop" after a brief remodel inside — and bagel baking is going to continue at his commissary kitchen, with fresh bagels delivered to the shop a few times per day.
There will be bagel sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, babka, "everything" cookies, and coffee, and Beitcher is promising one sandwich inspired by one he first had growing up in New Rochelle, NY — with egg, cream cheese, and jelly.
Sooner than that opening, as soon as the next week or two, you can expect to see the opening of Schlok's Bagels in the NoPa neighborhood. Schlok's announced its move last spring to a brick-and-mortar location at 1263 Fell Street, and as of last week, they've confirmed that some inspections are already done and they're prepping for an imminent opening.
"We're officially on track for a February opening," they said on Instagram.
Co-founders Zack Schwab and James Lok (the brand name is a combo of their last names, you see) have a fan base built from their pandemic-times pop-up at The Snug in Pac Heights, where they took orders and doled out bagels and bagel sandwiches through a window.
The small shop on Fell Street, just off Divisadero, looks like it could also have a window situation — or else it will just be a small counter-service operation next door to Hahdough Bakery, around the corner from Falletti's.
Unlike Midnite Bagel, which uses sourdough starter in a very West Coast vein, Lok favors conventional yeast for his bagels at Schlok's. And, he and Schwab have previously said they "want to have a small menu, and do the things we do really really well."
So that's a lot of new bagelry action in just a couple of months! And the competition should give established shops Wise Sons and Daily Driver a run for their money.