There are few things that pair as nicely as fresh bagels and a leisurely weekend morning. Try to name a more comforting duo, I’ll wait. Belle’s Bagels, a New York meets Montreal style bagel shop that operates Thursday-Sunday mornings out of the front window of The Hi-Hat on York, has become an underground staple of Highland Park’s brunch scene, simultaneously capitalizing on the hangover-erasing power of a warm bagel sandwich and rectifying LA’s dire need for house-made bagels that can stand up to their east coast counterparts.
Belle’s Bagels was brought to life by Nick Schreiber and JD Rocchio, two east side locals who grew up together and are dedicated to making bagels that they describe as “elevated comfort food.” They pride themselves on hand-rolling all their bagels in house, and their ultimate MO is a sense of “bagel revivalism,” which means keeping the traditional bagel from the neighborhood bagel shop alive and thriving, while adding creative updates and incorporating fresh ingredients that are locally sourced. The idea behind the shop, which grew organically from a wildly popular neighborhood pop up in La Perla bakery on Figueroa, was to fill a noticeable blank in LA’s robust food scene: no one was making a must-have bagel, the kind that bridges the gap between traditional comfort food and modern creativity, that feels both warmly nostalgic and freshly unexpected.
Fast forward a year or so and Belle’s is generating a buzz that is well-earned and well-deserved: their bagels, which go for $1.50 a pop and $17 for a dozen, are warm, chewy masses of dense dough, un-toasted yet encircled by a satisfyingly crispy crust. The menu tacked to the right of the to-go window offers a variety of intriguing schmears, including beet, scallion, and even cultured cashew for all those vegan bagel lovers out there. To be honest, their bagels are made with such care that all you need is a thick layer of schmear and you’re good to go. But that does not mean you should sleep on their bagel sandwiches, which are packed with perfectly balanced flavor, updating classic styles with deliciously surprising twists. Crispy salmon skin and hot pink beet schmear giving tangy texture to the Loxsmith, and a glorious mess of smashed avocado piled with cucumbers and radishes and blanketed in hot sauce makes up the vegetarian North of York. They also offer the McB, a classic crowdpleaser that shows they have a lox bagel down to a science, and the nap-inducing Westlake, piled high with pastrami and crunchy coleslaw.
A bagel from Belle’s is a small yet satisfying way to treat yourself for making it through the week, a delicious toast to the weekend that doesn’t break the bank. Everything on Belle’s menu clocks in at under $10, and remaining accessible and affordable continues to be a priority for them. Think of it as the warm, fresh ingredient you didn’t even realize your weekend morning routine was missing.In a city where a relaxing weekend brunch can often morph into a frustrating dance of circling the block looking for parking and waiting to be seated while everyone in the restaurant seemingly photographs their food instead of eating it, Belle’s Bagels is blissfully low key. Since Belle’s relinquishes their window to new neighborhood transplant Burgerlords once the sun goes down, the marble counter that runs along the outside of the building has become something of a hot spot, with people enjoying bagels and coffee (which, at $2.00 a cup, might be the best deal in town) in the morning and burgers and fries in the evening.
They start churning out fresh-from-the-oven bagels at 7 AM on Thursday and Friday and 8 AM on Saturday and Sunday, and don’t stop until they’re sold out for the day (which almost always happens, usually somewhere around mid-afternoon). For those weekend mornings when you accidentally sleep in until noon, you can follow along on their Instagram or Twitter to stay up to date about whether or not they’ve sold out for the day. They also sell their bagels, schmears, and lox in take-home bulk sizes, so you can indulge in the restorative powers of their bagel revivalism from the comfort of your own home.