Bethesda Bagels- Navy Yard, Washington DC

 The traditional with all the extras $8.50
An Egg & Everything bagel with lox, cream cheese, red onion, tomato, capers, lettuce & sprouts. 

Our main reason for visiting Washington DC was sadly, an absolute fail. For weeks I had watched the cherry blossom forecast with childish anticipation. Even my laptop was amused, revealing that my top search for late February had been the Washington ‘cherry blossom watch’ website. Experts of the Sakura had predicted a surprisingly early peak bloom but an unforeseen cold snap in the weather put a spanner in natures plans. With our accommodation already booked, we decided to go and say hi to Abe anyway.

The blossom tree’s around the tidal basin & the Potomac River were originally gifted from Japan in 1910 to honour the strengthening friendship between the two nations. For anyone who know’s their history, I find this kind of awkward considering what occurs some 30 years later. The cherry blossom festival in DC attracts thousands of visitors every year, so I was shocked and elated to find out only this week that the best display of flowers is actually much closer to home. Branch Brook park in Newark, New Jersey boasts 5000 cherry blossoms tree’s, the largest number in one place in the whole of the United States. 

When we visit other city’s and have time for a bagel, we try our hardest to get recommendations from the locals. On our trip to DC we went one better and got our bagel recommendation from a Jersey local! This translates to ‘she knows what shes talking about.’ When we approached our tour guide about the best place to search out a bagel, she blew out air in frustration. Not a good start. She claimed to have tried almost every bagel in the city and confirmed that Bethesda Bagels was the only place worth going to. 

DC has a wonderful Metro system that I can’t help but compare to New York’s subway. Every station we entered was a huge, artistically constructed, spotless, ghost-town. Not a single crazy homeless person in sight. Washington had clearly watched, learnt and taken note of London & New York’s mistakes. We took the train to Navy Yard, an area directly south from the gorgeous townhouses’s of Capitol Hill. Wide open windy avenues, modern glass buildings, an unfinished feeling, made it very different to the other parts of DC we had wandered through. 

Bethesda Bagels original location opened in 1982 on Bethesda Avenue in Bethesda township, Maryland. With two stores in Washington DC and a new one coming to Virginia this year, they’re an expanding brand. The store we visited lacked personality and organisation, even the workers seemed bored of taking orders. Whilst we waited I glanced down at the receipt; cream cheese, red onion, tomato, capers, lettuce & sprouts. Wait what? Sprouts? This caused a good 10 minutes of confusion because in my head I was picturing chopped up brussel sprouts. To make it even more confusing, I couldn’t remember the right name so referred to them as table sprouts which had Sahar in fits of laughter. The issue was only resolved when we unwrapped our bagels outside and saw they were just alfalfa sprouts after all. 

The bagel itself was pretty good, lots of capers which is rare, the addition of the sprouts was something new but I hate it when the decision is made to put lettuce into the mix. Of all the tasty ingredients out there and you add iceberg lettuce, possibly the most boring thing on the planet. If we wanted something healthy, we would have ordered a salad thanks. We’re consistently seeing that the further we travel from the tri-state area, the quality of the bagels (and the price)  just dips dramatically. However we will continue trying them wherever we travel just to see if we can find any gems! 

120 M St. SE, Washington, DC 20003

www.bethesedabagels.com