As with most iconic foods, the exact origin of the bagel is largely unknown and highly debated — mostly because ring-shaped bread has been made by a variety of cultures for centuries. However, the earliest known appearance of what resembles the modern-day bagel first appeared in 1300s Poland as obwarzanek, a braided ring of dough that’s boiled, sprinkled with seasoning and then baked.
The bagel migrated from Eastern Europe to the United States during the 19th century, where it was primarily found in Jewish immigrant markets, but didn’t make it into the mainstream world of baked goods until the 1970s. Since then, bagels have exploded in popularity across the nation — and now you don’t need to travel to New York to nab a good authentic one. As former New York City resident Tejal Rao wrote in a controversial article for The New York Times: the best bagels are in California.
Sonoma County should be no exception to the West Coast’s bagel boom, so here are 12 places to grab the finest bagels in the county and celebrate National Bagel Day on Jan. 15.
Healdsburg Bagel Company
Using quality ingredients to create traditional New York-style bagels, Healdsburg Bagel Company owner Drew Ross and his team churn out made-to-order batches of fresh bagels daily. The handmade bagels come out soft with a crisp outside and loaded with flavor, like the generously-coated everything bagel or the cheesy pizza bagel. Fresh HBC bagels can be found at Big John’s Market, various local farmers markets and can be delivered right to your door as part of the bakery’s Bagel Club program.
417A Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-239-2310, healdsburgbagelcompany.com
Serving up great bagels since 1979, the modest Grateful Bagel sites in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol are local hot spots for a quick breakfast sandwich or midday bagel bite. Favorites include the pesto bagel with a simple schmear, the Harvest Bagel with cream cheese, avocado, tomato and cucumber, and the Wild Boar, a classic ham, egg and cheese combo on a cheesy jalapeño bagel.
631 4th St., Santa Rosa, 707-535-0570, grateful-bagel.cafes-usa.com
300 S. Main St., Sebastopol, 707-829-5220
Grossman’s Noshery & Bar
This New York-style deli located in Santa Rosa’s historic Railroad Square district has a diverse menu of Jewish cuisine, including, of course, freshly baked bagels that are perfectly toasty and chewy. Try the simple yet elegant salt bagel with a house-made scallion cream cheese schmear or the Brooklyn Bagel Sandwich with lox, cucumber, tomato, sliced onion, schmear and dill on a toasted everything bagel.
308 Wilson St., Santa Rosa, 707-595-7707, grossmanssr.com
Café des Croissants
For a tasty, affordable bagel to-go, swing by the Café des Croissants drive-thru in Rohnert Park. There are a variety of cream cheese spreads and bagel sandwich combos to choose from, such as the Hummus Among Us with local hummus, cucumber and other fresh veggies on a pesto bagel, or the popular Loxy Lady with lox, capers, tomatoes, onions and cream cheese.
450 Raley’s Town Centre, Rohnert Park, 707-791-4139, cafedescroissant.com
New York Bagel
For a proper New York-style bagel in a small town shop, look no further than New York Bagel in Rohnert Park’s Park Plaza Center. With a vast assortment of bagel flavors and add-ons, it’s hard to go wrong with these dense, chewy bagels generously topped with your favorite fixings. Local favorites include the jalapeño cheese bagel with bacon and eggs or a plain cream cheese spread, and the Manhattan Grille on an everything bagel stacked with melted Monterey Jack cheese, alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes and scallion cream cheese.
6400 Commerce Blvd., Rohnert Park, 707-588-0414
Sonoma Valley Bagel
With three locations and a host of bagel options to choose from, Sonoma Valley Bagel has something for everyone. Bagels here are traditionally made: kettle-boiled then baked for a hearty crunch and soft chew. The pizza and cinnamon sugar bagels are kid favorites; the spinach parmesan and sourdough bagels are great for those who prefer slightly more sophisticated bagel sandwiches.
130 Stony Point Road, Santa Rosa, 707-578-7005
1451 Southwest Blvd., Rohnert Park, 707-793-9990
350 Rohnert Park Expressway W., Rohnert Park, 707-585-8095, sonomavalleybagel.com
The Bagel Mill
The Bagel Mill combines traditional bagel-making techniques with quality ingredients to create organic sourdough bagels, ensuring a great chew full of flavor every time. A fan favorite is the marble rye bagel, which pairs especially well with the house-made green olive cream cheese spread. The pesto bagel is another crowdpleaser, as it’s flavorful enough to be eaten on its own and heightens any sandwich option you prefer, such as the Classic Lox spread or the loaded Spicy Turkey Club.
212 Western Ave., Petaluma, 707-981-8010, thebagelmill.com
Noah’s NY Bagels
With a wide assortment of freshly baked bagels, schmears, sandwiches and catering options, Noah’s is a local one-stop-shop for a quick bagel fix. Standouts include the gourmet challah and six cheese bagel, which pairs well with the signature Breakfast BLT sandwich with thick-cut bacon, eggs, spinach, tomato and parmesan aioli.
375 S. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma, 707-766-9651, noahs.com
Mama Mel’s Bread
When it comes to hearty wholegrain, gluten-free, vegan bagels, Mama Mel’s is the cream of the crop. Its New York-style bagels are made with gluten-free flours and are steam-baked for a golden crust and chewy bite. The three-seed bagel contains a blend of organic chia, sesame and poppy seeds, giving the bagel a mild nutty flavor and satisfying crunch. Other favorites include the robust onion bagel and the naturally sweet blueberry bagel.
Order online for pick-up at Mama Mel’s Kitchen in Petaluma or find Mama Mel’s baked goods at the Santa Rosa Community Farmers Market on select Saturdays. Mama Mel’s also supplies its gluten-free bread and bagels to various locations across the county.
431 Payran St., Building C, Petaluma, 707-595-0980, mamamelsbread.com
Inspired by his grandma Ethel’s homemade, traditional Jewish comfort food, Nicolas Abrams set up a bagel shop in Petaluma that delivers organic sourdough bagels all over the Bay Area. Combining traditional and refined bagel-making techniques with local ingredients — such as Lagunitas beer, used in the boiling process — Ethel’s Bagels churns out wholesome, flavorful bagels that are delightfully chewy with a crisp exterior. While all the bagels receive praise, the standouts are the classic Everything Bagel and the innovative Black Pepper and Parmesan Bagel. And don’t miss out on the house-made Oy Vey cream cheese schmears.
Homegrown Bagels in Sonoma has been serving fresh bagels with a great chew and a firm, golden crust since 1978. With a healthy selection of bagels, spreads and creative bagel sandwich options, the fun bagel combinations are endless. For a farm-fresh delight, try the Veggie Sandwich on a tomato basil bagel. If you prefer a good hunk of protein in your bagel sandwich, go for the Petaluma Meltdown with grilled chicken breast, bacon and mozzarella on a classic sesame seed bagel.
201 W. Napa St., Suite 21, Sonoma, 707-996-0166, homegrownbagels.com
This Cloverdale restaurant serves up a unique combination of great-tasting tortas, birria and bagels. Make your own bagel sandwich at the bagel bar, which has over a dozen different bagels to choose from along with various spreads, meats, veggies and cheeses. Or order a bagel sandwich off the menu, like the regular go-to Hot Mess Bagel with egg, ham and cheddar cheese on a bagel of your choice.
512 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale, 707-669-5044
Andy’s Donuts & Bagels
Locals may come to this unassuming strip mall shop for the rich donuts and fritters, but its bagels are not to be missed. The spicy jalapeño cheese bagel is the hands-down fan favorite here, often filled with cream cheese or made into an egg sandwich.
1784 Piner Road, Santa Rosa, 707-541-0877
My Friend Joe Coffee
The ideal bagel spot for the weary college student, My Friend Joe across from the Santa Rosa Junior College campus serves up large, filling bagel sandwiches for folks on-the-go or in need of a study break. Using bagels from Grateful Bagel on 4th Street and adding a generous amount of fresh ingredients, there are a variety of satisfying bagel sandwich options to choose from. A local favorite is the Pesto Manifesto on a cheesy pesto bagel with turkey, provolone, pesto, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and peperoncini.
1810 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-843-4966
Cafe Aquatica in Jenner is a charming place on the coast for breakfast or lunch. While this quaint coastal cafe may only have one bagel sandwich on the menu — the savory Smoked Lox Bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon, greens and everything seeds on a toasted bagel — you can craft your own bagel from the modest sidebar menu. An open-faced bagel topped with avocado and a poached egg is a delicious, filling breakfast, or try the vibrant beet spread and roasted portobello mushrooms on a gluten-free bagel, courtesy of Mama Mel’s Kitchen.
10439 Highway 1, Jenner, 707-865-2251, cafeaquaticajenner.com