A bit of stigma exists around San Francisco bagels. Unless it hails from Wise Son’s or maybe Marla Bakery, it usually doesn’t hold up to the classic New York bagels. Whatever the cause, I’m afraid it’s true. There is just something a little different about the bagels out West. And if you’re looking for a decent bagel with lox, forget about it. Unless you’re willing to spend $10 to $12 on a round little impostor, you may be better off just waiting until your next visit to the East Coast.
But just when I had lost all hope, I found the what I had been looking for in the most unlikely of places.
Gus’s Community Market, which opened on Harrison Street in the Mission in 2015, is a homey little San Francisco grocery store that grew out of Noriega Produce and Haight-Ashbury Produce, founded by earlier generations of the Vardakastanis family. (Tragically, Konstantinos “Gus” Vardakastanis was killed in a hit-and-run in September 2017.) Specializing in local sourcing and fresh produce, Gus’s also has cute little cafes in the front of their stores. And among squeezed juices, acai bowls, and other breakfast-y items, there is a hidden gem: $5 lox!
That’s right, a lox bagel of your choice for five dollars. I’m not sure there’s a better-priced smoked salmon sandwich anywhere in San Francisco, New York, or all of the United States. The bagels are delivered daily from House of Bagels on Geary Street in the Richmond every morning, and although they are not quite the same as those hailing from the East, they get pretty damn close. Warm and soft on the inside with a nice smooth crust, these are some of the best bagels in the city.
For the price of a cafe mocha at Blue Bottle, you can get any bagel at Gus’s with onion cream cheese, capers, and a generous pile of smoked salmon, which in today’s overpriced food climate, has got to be one of the best deals in town.
Gus’s Community Market, 2111 Harrison St., 415-431-9300 or gussmarket.com