It turns out that looking for the best bagels in Austin wasn’t too difficult: there are only a handful of bagel shops to consider! Austin has a pretty developed food scene, but, surprisingly, there aren’t very many bagel options. (Probably because we’re so busy stuffing our faces with breakfast tacos.) I decided to set out and try all the bagels in Austin in a side-by-side taste test so I could confidently share with y’all where to eat the best bagels in Austin.
I love all the bagels: melty bagel sandwiches with drippy eggs and crisp bacon, toasted everything bagels with cream cheese, and all the creative “Austin-y” tastes like brisket schmear. But I decided, for this taste test, that I would get rid of all the frills and try plain bagels side-by-side. I loooove a bunch of yummy toppings on my bagels, but it’s hard to do an accurate taste comparison…almost any bagel will taste amazing if it’s sliced open, toasted, and covered with cheese and sausage and eggs. So, I went around town, picked up plain bagels at four different shops, and then brought them home so I could taste them untoasted and toasted.
I taste tested the four most popular bagel options in Austin:
- Rosen’s Bagels, which doesn’t have a store front but caters to lots of shops in Austin like Biderman’s Deli and Wham Bam Bagel truck, and Tiny House Coffee
- Wholy Bagel with two locations
- Nervous Charlie’s, a new kids on the block with their popular storefront on N. Lamar
- Rockstar Bagels, the OG east Austin bagel company.
Here’s what I found:
- Rosen’s Bagels were the best all-around quality. Tiny microblisters on the outside, a thin crust, and a perfectly dense and chewy interior.
- Wholy Bagel was a pretty darn close second. The inside of this bagel was just a tad fluffier (less chewy), and the crust was slightly thicker than Rosen’s bagel.
- Nervous Charlie’s was the squishiest – good for sandwiches. Look at the picture below, and you’ll see the Nervous Charlie’s bagel squashes down the most when I bite into it. While this isn’t ideal in a textbook perfect bagel, it does make a great bagel for a sandwich. Just like with burgers, I don’t want to bite into a bagel sandwich and have all of the fillings spill out the other side; the bagels at Charlie’s prevent this from happening. If Wholy Bagel was a bit too fluffy, Nervous Charlie’s was not quite fluffy enough. (Rosen’s was the perfect in-between.)
- Rockstar Bagels was a clear fourth place finisher; the crust was thick and the crumb lacked the dimension from the first three options. I’m being very picky – this is still much better than your average Thomas bagel from the grocery store.
There are a few more options than what I listed above, so I’m going to mention all of them below! You can use the map at the top of the page to find one near you.
Where To Eat Bagels In Austin
1. Rosen’s Bagels. Tom Rosen started Rosen’s Bagel Co. in 2017 when he realized that there weren’t many great bagels in Austin. He alkalizes the boiling water to make it similar to NYC’s water (but doesn’t change the water in the dough – apparently that doesn’t make much of a difference.) The result? A beautiful, chewy bagel with perfect microblistering on the outside. Rosen’s don’t have a brick-and-mortar (yet…), but Rosen’s Bagels are available all over Austin. Biderman’s Deli is one of the biggest stores to sell Rosen’s, but you can also find them at Tiny House, Patika, Wham Bam, and Brew & Brew. Or order them online at Rosen’s Bagels website. | WEBSITE
2. Wholy Bagel. This shop was opened by a New Jersey-native in 2010 (since then it’s changed ownership.) Bagels are prepared every night using a secret recipe dating back to 1919. One of my favorite parts of Wholy Bagel is the wide selection of flavored cream cheese options! (Not for the bagel purists, but for those of us who just wanna have fun!) 4404 William Cannon Dr, Austin and 3637 Far West Blvd, Austin | WEBSITE
Also see: the best breakfast tacos in Austin
3. Nervous Charlie’s. Everyone in Austin is obsessed with this place. I know this because there’s always a line out the door on Saturday mornings. (COVID update: order online for a contactless pickup at the tent outside the store.) Owner Chris Cunningham, who grew up on Long Island, opened this Austin bagel shop (named after his dog!) in 2015. The dough is sent straight from NYC and baked in the shop. The bagels and cream cheese are completely satisfying, but kick it up a notch by trying one of their bagel sandwiches, like “The Longhorn:” Taylor ham, 2 fried eggs, breakfast potatoes, cheddar cheese, and Charlie’s hot sauce. 5501 N Lamar Blvd, Austin | WEBSITE
4. Rockstar Bagels. Founded in 2009, Rockstar Bagels is the OG bagel store in Austin. They partner with cafés and grocery stores all over the city, so the bagels are pretty easy to find, even if you don’t live in east Austin. Rockstar bagels are boiled and baked fresh every morning and available at the walk-up window in East Austin. (*COVID update: order online for a contactless pickup at the blue tent outside the bagel shop.) 1900 Rosewood Ave, Austin | WEBSITE
5. Wham Bam Bagels. This pink food truck on South Congress is hard to miss, and the bagel sandwiches are perfect. Nothing crazy or too “out there,” just really really good breakfast sandwiches on some of the best bagels in town. They start with Rosen’s bagels, and then make their sandwiches out of high-quality ingredients, like 44 Farms roast beef. I love how customers can customize every part of the breakfast sandwich, all the way down to exactly how you like your eggs cooked: over-easy, over-medium, scrambled, etc. 4329 S Congress Ave, Austin | WEBSITE
6. Biderman’s Deli. If you’re looking for a good Jewish-inspired deli in Austin, Biderman’s is your place. They use Rosen’s bagels and have a full menu of sandwiches. Try the bacon and avocado, or the lox deluxe sandwich for when you really want to splurge! 3742 Far West Blvd, Austin and 701 S Capitol of TX Hwy, Austin | WEBSITE
7. Big Heitz Bagels. This brand new bagel company in Austin is good. Like, really really good. They’re not included in the taste test above because they’re not quite as easily available (you have to order ahead and have them delivered) but they’re worth a little bit of planning. They have four flavors, and these bagels are thick and doughy. (Jalapeño Cheddar FTW!) WEBSITE
8. Swedish Hill Bakery. Even though it’s a big bakery with massive menu (croissants! cinnamon rolls! custom cakes!), the bagels are definitely not an afterthought here. Small, dense, chewy, and available as single orders or by the half- or full-dozen. Only three options (plain, sea salt, and everything) but you can get a couple sandwich options, like lox or a veggie bagel. Probably not the place to go if you want lots of flavor combinations with different bagels, schmears, and meat/cheese combos, but if you just want a beautiful patio to meet a friend for some good bagels, this is it. 1120 W 6th St | WEBSITE
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While I’m not a professional baker, I do love researching before I eat so I know what qualifies as “good” or not. This article by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (one of THE food writers of our generation) is a good starter. NPR writes about the importance of boiling the bagel. And Eater knows why New York bagels are all the rage – all over the country.