Wise Sons bagels (Fillmore, SF)

Bagels are one of the more controversial food topics, especially among opinionated NYers. Let the discussion begin about Wise Sons new bagel shop!

I’ve sampled their bagels twice at Wise Sons 24th St. Deli. Both times, the toasted everything bagel was great in an open faced sandwich with smoked salmon, capers, red onions, and housemade cream cheese. They’re smaller than the gut bomb size now typical in NY, which I consider a plus. The seeds, etc. are distributed well on both the top and bottom of the bagel, so you get a layered texture contrast from the crisp onions, cool salmon and cream cheese, soft crumb, crunchy crust, and grainy seeds, etc.

It’s difficult to compare these to, or make conclusions about, the new breed of “artisan bagels” such as 20th Century Cafe, Marla Baker, or Shorty Goldstein’s. Does the Fillmore location continue to bake throughout the day? The bagels at the 24th location were baked off site, so needed to be toasted to be enjoyed. The cold sesame bagel wasn’t very enjoyable, but not as leaden as other artisan bagels I’ve had in SF. It’s tough to judge a cold or reheated bagel.

Toasting is fine for a sandwich, but the crumb loses chew and the toppings lose fragrance. The constant baking at Montreal’s 24 hour bagel shops, where the sesame toppings’ flavor is unbelievable, or Oakland’s Beauty Bagel, make them my top pick for bagels. Cold bagels I had on a recent trip to NY (E.g. Bagel Hole) were disappointing by comparison.


One of the advantages of not giving a shit about what anyone from New York thinks about anything is that I can enjoy bagels whether they meet New York standards or not (SPOILER: they won’t). Will check it out.

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So tired of hearing about what anyone from NY thinks about bagels. So so tired…


Was up an about fairly early so I stopped in this morning. They open at 8:00 AM, and the line at 8:20 AM was about 30 minutes long. I am usually not a line person, but having biked all the way to Fillmore and having already had my coffee, I figured I’d give it a go. Who knew people in SF get up this early? I think part of the reason for the line is that people were making complicated orders (bagel for here + sandwich + 6 bagels to go + drinks + schmear to go) to try everything on offer.

Saw some hot sesame bagels go by just as I was about to order, so I got one of those with a scallion schmear. The crunchy texture of the bagel was great, the schmear was creamy and nicely flavored, if a little warmer/softer than I like. Downside: some bites the bagel itself had a weirdly acrid flavor–maybe some of the sesame seeds got over-toasted? Not sure.

Overall it’s nice to have around, and I could see myself stopping in once the lines die down. In the meantime, I think Beauty’s are probably a little better.

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Rock on! The baking of bagels throughout the day makes me excited to venture to the Fillmore location (after the initial crowds die down)

You may be tired of hearing what New Yorkers have say about a food they grew up with, but what you’re saying is no different than saying that you’re tired of hearing what Chinese people have to say about XLB, or what Italians have to say about fresh pasta.


A NY Times piece http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/07/26/magazine/why-is-it-so-hard-to-get-a-great-bagel-in-california.html?referer=&_r=0 , which discusses Wise Sons, is typical of bagel conversations with NYers— a sense of superiority about NY bagels, and an unwilling to acknowledge the decades-long quality drop in NY bagels. (I say this as a NY native)

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At least the NY hounds (or maybe some?), I recall, acknowledged the decline. Dont know about the general public.

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I went here this Sunday at around 2pm. They were all out of bagels and only had bialys left. Had a smoked salmon sandwich on a bialy, untoasted, with cream cheese, capers, red onion, and tomato. Also added a pickle. The sandwich contents were quite good. Tomato was especially nice. I liked the bialy as well though it was a little on the hard side. I’m a bagel/bialy newbie. A bit expensive at ~$14 total. Looking forward to trying the bagels once things calm down a bit.

As an ex-pat Canadian from Montreal, I’ve been looking forward to the opening of this place for months (albeit with expectations realistically adjusted) but the lines that I witnessed last Sunday were insane. I walked by just before noon and the wait looked to be a solid hour… who waits in line that long for bagels!!!

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I’m getting a little off-topic here, but…there’s this whole culture of standing in lines for shit that seems to have popped up in the last 5 or 10 years, and it’s just completely incomprehensible to me. I mean, people stand in long lines for coffee, which is just nuts. I mean really, It’s. Just. Coffee.

I see a long line someplace, I say fuck it I’ll go somewhere else. Life’s way too short for that kind of aggravation.


Hours: 7 am - 3 pm
No lines at 7 am. No wait at the register to order. one person ahead of me waiting for their order to be packed. I was in and out in under 10 minutes with my half dozen bagels $10.

Easy early morning street parking on Fillmore.
Street sweeping 3-days a week from 6 am to 8 am on Tues/Thurs/?

I also got in line last Saturday at 8:10am and couldn’t believe I was way out the door. Unfortunately, my dog started barking once I was about to get inside so we left.

I ended up going to the ferry building’s farmers market where there is a wise son’s stand outside selling their bagels. The man told me they share the same bagels from
Fillmore! I didn’t wait in any line at all either. The smoked salmon sandwich on a toasted everything bagel was delicious, but too small for my taste. It was $13 and I was not full at all. The quality of the salmon was amazing as well. I would come back to the Fillmore location once the lines die down.

$13 for a bagel lox and cream cheese?!?!?

What the hell San Francisco.

Yeah, that was my reaction. The economic cleansing of the city proceeds apace.

The smoked salmon plate, with rye, at Swan Oyster Depot is over $17, and the salmon at that outdoor vendor at the Saturday ferry building market is also expensive. Another comparison is NY’s Russ & Daughters where a bagel and lox is $12

Due respects to Wise Sons, but I don’t think they have a Russ & Daughters level cachet yet. Maybe in another 100 years.


Exactly and there’s a huge difference… you’re paying for the quality and cut of fish at R&D. Wise Sons has a decent lox plate (and I know because I had it for breakfast this morning) but it’s apples and oranges to Russ & Daughters. Frankly, I’ve had better smoked salmon from my neighborhood Whole Foods, on occasion. It should also be acknowledged that most everything in this city is currently overpriced.

Btw, I’m pretty sure that I had a WS bagel this morning. I ordered in and requested one of their house-made bagels in lieu of a bialy and I got a poppyseed, which didn’t really do it for me. It’s was big, dense, doughy and lacking flavor. Maybe it’s better toasted but color me unimpressed. Again, I’m from Montreal and bagels aren’t a “thing” for me. It’s like French bread in Paris. I guess I’m a hard sell for SF bagels but I think this is much ado about nothing.

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I’m not from Montreal (but close) and I’d rather have a black or white St. V or Fairmount bagel than any NY bagel I’ve ever had. Wasn’t Wise Sons selling Montreal-style bagels from Beauty’s Bagels in Oakland at one point?


Well I have never had a bagel in NYC, but here’s my two cents. I picked up half dozen from Wise Sons at the Jewish Contemporary Museum. Everything bagel included salt, which I didnt love. Sesame bagel was excellent. Between WS, Beauty’s and Authentic Bagel Company, WS had my favorite texture. Good the next day too, but Im sure eating a day old bagel is unheard of in NY.

I think toasting increases topping fragrance, no? Toasted nuts taste nuttier, wouldnt the same be true for sesame seeds, etc?

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