Are bagels just round pieces of bread? Of course not. Are they just bland donuts? Absolutely not. Embarking upon a bagel tour of Berkeley yields wild new revelations about bagels on the West Coast that any East Coaster will be able to appreciate.
The most well-known bagel place in Berkeley is Noah’s New York Bagels, which is right near campus on Telegraph Avenue. You may or may not know that Noah’s was actually started in Berkeley in 1989. If you’ve ever been to the location on College Avenue, congratulations, for you have visited the site of the original Noah’s Bagels! Noah’s then expanded to the location on Solano Avenue, and then to the location on Telegraph and Durant avenues.
Each Noah’s site imports preboiled dough then freezes it until it is time to make the bagels. According to the Berkeley shift manager, Dejenae Gillespie, every morning at 2 a.m., bakers take the dough and roll it into the archetypal “bagel,” then put it in the proofer for an hour and 45 minutes. Then the bagels are put into the oven, where they are steamed for 30 seconds then baked for six minutes to create the fresh bagel that you eat.
Besides Noah’s store, bagels abound in Berkeley at some more hidden places that serve just bagels on and around Shattuck Avenue, including Lox Stock & Bagels on Allston Way and Bagel Street Cafe on Center Street. But many of these stores get their bagels from Noah’s. In fact, according to Gillespie, Noah’s supplies bagels to several cafes around Berkeley, including K’s Cafe, Caffe Strada, the Drunken Boat and the Bancroft Hotel. Noah’s corporate company, Einstein Bros. Bagels, also owns Manhattan Bagels on Fourth Street.
Other delis and coffeehouses that sell bagels use the strategy of getting bagels from other larger bakeries besides Noah’s, most of which are located in San Francisco. Cafe Blue Door and Cafe Milano on Bancroft Way both get their supply from New York Bagels in San Francisco, while Cafe Clem on Kittredge Street gets its bagels delivered from Semifreddi’s Bakery in Kensington, Calif.
However, not all establishments import their bagels. The Bagel Street Cafe is one bakery in Berkeley that makes its bagels on the premises. This family business in the Bay Area has plenty of different specialties, from strawberry to asiago spinach.
Whether imported or not, bagels are all over Berkeley in plenty of different shapes and sizes. Even if Noah’s may supply bagels to many of your go-to spots, niche bagel shops are just waiting to be found throughout Berkeley.