CULVER CITY, Calif. — Los Angeles and New York have many healthy rivalries, but there had never been a question about which had the best bagels — until now. 

Zach Liprorace is among a handful of California bagel makers who may have just started a bagel battle between the two coasts. Liprorace fired the first bagel bullet last year when he opened Pop's Bagels in Culver City. He named the shop after his grandfather — a New Yorker — and set out to make a different kind of bagel that was less dense than the bagels in New York but still chewy. 

What You Need To Know

  • There’s always been a healthy rivalry between New York and Los Angeles, but when it came to who makes the best bagels there was never a question

  • Zach Liprorace, along with a handful of other California bagel makers, may have just started a bagel battle between the two coasts

  • In March the New York Times declared that "The Best Bagels Are in California (Sorry, New York)"

  • That very same day, Liporace's phone was ringing off the hook, he doubled his staff and his business grew 250%

His secret?

"Really good high gluten flour, both malt powder and malt syrup," Liporace said. "Not being this white piece of bread, but more like a little bit brown-tinted from the malt. To me, that's the big bagel flavor all in."

Soon his business took off as people stood in line to get their hands on his mouthwatering bagels.

His signature item is the Bacon Avocado Cream Cheese Bagel. It would likely be considered blasphemy on the East Coast, but it is his bread and butter in California.

"It's one of the top sellers," he said. "There's no bagel-shaming here."

He was so busy when a New York Times reporter called to interview him about California's bagel boom that he did not think much of it until he opened up the newspaper a few days later. The headline read: "The best bagels are in California (Sorry New York)."

"As I'm reading it, my knees buckled," Liporace recalled. "It was just this incredible experience ever."

Liporace's picture was prominently displayed in the article. The reporter described his bagels like this: "That exterior is light and wonderfully crackly with a definite crunch." 

The next thing he knew was his phone was ringing off the hook. He doubled his staff, and his business grew 250%.

"We ran out of everything by noon," he said, laughing.

Liporace's grandfather died in 2017 before he ever was able to see the store named after him, but his presence is palpable in every bagel made.

"I have a little softer side to me, but then I do have an edge from New York, and my grandfather gave that to me," he said. "He'd be super proud of me right now, I'm sure."