Bagel pop-up Loxsmith Bagels — which has been praised by famous cookbook author J. Kenji López-Alt — is opening a cafe and bakery across the street from the Beacon Hill light rail station at the beginning of April.
Owner Matthew Segal’s bagels, with their dark-brown, blistery crusts and chewy, flavorful interiors, have drawn long lines at his pop-ups for the last few years— as has his wild king salmon lox and his creations that fuse elements of New York deli food and various Asian cuisines, like bialys made with toro (tuna belly), ikura (salmon roe), and uni (sea urchin).
Segal worked as a sushi chef when he first moved to Seattle and became obsessed with lox when his attention turned to bagels. During his research trips to New York, he learned the cold-smoked fish the city celebrates is normally made with farmed salmon. So he decided to perfect his own lox recipe, using wild king salmon from the Pacific Ocean, which is normally more flavorful than the farm-raised variety.
“I got crazy about salmon,” he says. “I’ve always been fish-centric.” Segal started to think of himself as a craftsman, or smith, of lox.
Lopez-Alt recognized Segal’s dedication to smoked fish and dough when he moved to the city and told The Seattle Times last year that Segal’s bagels are some of his favorite in the city, rivaling the best in New York.
Though Loxsmith Bagels has had extended residencies at Capitol Hill bars Nacho Borracho and Montana, the Beacon Hill cafe, scheduled to open early April, will be its first permanent location. For now, Segal is making bagels out of a commissary kitchen inside of Georgetown deli Harried and Hungry, where he’ll sell bagel sandwiches and lox on Saturdays and Sundays starting March 5 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. In May, Segal will move bagel production to a space next door to the Beacon Hill cafe, and customers will be able to watch the dough get shaped, boiled and baked while waiting in line or from the street outside. Segal is crowdsourcing funds for the new space with an online campaign offering pre-orders of menu items to people who donate through March 2.
The cafe’s menu will be similar to that of his pop-ups: 20 types of bagels, including four everything bagels (plain, whole wheat, egg, and pumpernickel), lox and smoked sablefish, and breakfast bagel sandwiches with eggs, bacon, and ham. Expect more Asian-inspired bagel dishes, too, with ingredients like kimchi, gochujang, and raw hamachi (Japanese amberjack), to be served with a seaweed bagel. It will also serve coffee and babka made with orange, rose petals, chocolate, hazelnuts, and pistachios.
Lines at Segal’s pop-ups have often been prohibitively long in the past, and he believes he’ll finally meet demand with the permanent cafe. In the summer, Segal will build a greenhouse where diners can eat bagels surrounded by chives and scallions growing in pots on his 1000-square-foot patio (there will be a few tables inside the cafe, too).
Segal hopes the cafe will be the start of his Seattle bagel empire and wants to open more shops in the area as soon as possible. “I’m just going to keep on doing what I’ve been doing, which is being creative and focusing on fish,” he says.