Despite packing mac and cheese-filled bread bowls since 2010, Daniel Dunietz, UCSB alumnus and founder of Dank Bowl Kitchen, is on a mission to bake the best bagels in I.V.
Yetz’s Bagels, coined after Dunietz’s nickname, opened inside Dank Bowl Kitchen just last week. Open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m daily — or until their fresh-baked bagels sell out — the pop-up caters to a breakfast and lunch crowd. Midday, the restaurant undergoes a menu switch, leaving Dank Bowl Kitchen to handle the evening shift.
The inspiration for Yetz’s Bagels struck last fall after Dunietz took a trip to the East Coast. “Anytime I visit family in New York, I purchase a dozen bagels from a local shop and pack them into my luggage to feed my bagel cravings for a week. I have always longed for a bagel shop in Santa Barbara that could simply come close to the chewy, crunchy heaven that is a perfectly baked New York bagel,” Dunietz said. “I had the epiphany that if anybody was going to create the perfect bagel it would have to be me.”
While the idea for Yetz’s Bagels was born recently, Dunietz has always been a bagel enthusiast. “I’ve been perfecting the ‘topping’ portion of a bagel since as long as I can remember. One of my favorite things to do as a teenager was invite friends over so they could try my bagel creations,” he said. But bagel making is more than just a hobby for Dunietz: as the son of Polish Jewish immigrants, he notes that the activity is embedded deeply into his family traditions and heritage.
Despite the many other breakfast joints in I.V., Dunietz claims the community is in a “bagel desert” and he’s the man to turn that around.
“I realized that if I couldn’t find a decent bagel in town I had no choice but to bake it myself, and set out on a mission to produce a bagel that would rival even the most established New York bagel shops,” Dunietz said.
So what makes Yetz’s Bagels different? The answer lies in the process.
“From the moment the yeast and the flour mix, our bagels are prepared with the utmost care and attention to detail in order to ensure the end product is mouth watering perfection. We don’t cut corners. We take every step in the bagel making process seriously and prepare them the same way they have been prepared for centuries, going back to my roots in the Polish Jewish community,” Dunietz said.
“I started hand-rolling the dough on my kitchen counter, tweaking the ratios, knead time, proof time, yeast type, boiling and baking times, basically every variable that you can imagine, continuously striving for the perfect bagel. After months of experimenting, I am confident my bagel is hands down the best bagel in Santa Barbara, if not the entire Central Coast.”
The menu has no shortage of handmade, New York-style options, offering plain, everything, poppyseed, sesame, garlic, onion and cinnamon crunch-flavored bagels. Their sandwich menu is limited, currently featuring only four options, yet comprehensive enough to satisfy any crowd. The Gaucho, Yetz’s Bagels’ most iconic menu item, features bacon, egg, cheese, pico de gallo and chipotle mayo or pesto aioli.
“I have a whole list of bagel creations that I think the IV community would love, but that will all come in time,” Dunietz said.
Following Dank Bowl Kitchen’s legacy of creative combinations, we can only anticipate Dunietz bringing exciting new topping options to the breakfast crowd.
What Yetz’s Bagels lacks in options, it makes up for in value. A single bagel with schmear costs $4.25 and a classic egg and cheese sandwich only costs $6. The most expensive item on the menu, The Deluxe — featuring lox, chive cream cheese, tomatoes, onions and capers — totals for $12. The same options (or similar, in regards to The Deluxe) at IV Bagel Cafe compare closely, costing $4.44, $6.99 and $12.76, respectively.
While the prices are similar, the quality is leagues apart. Prioritizing quality, Dunietz and his team take no shortcuts. Unlike other I.V. establishments, microwaved eggs are out of the question at Yetz’s Bagels. Cooked on the griddle and perfectly seasoned with salt and pepper, Dunietz serves up eggs that are fluffy, warm and — most importantly — fresh.
Yetz’s Bagels also offers a comprehensive drink menu, featuring unique choices like Honey Milk Tea, Caramel Cold Brew, Iced Matcha Latte, Lemon Drop Black Tea and Strawberry Basil Lemonade. Once again, Dunietz delivers reasonable prices: the cost for a 16-ounce drink ranges from $3.25 to $4.25. However, the drinks are pre-prepared in large batches, which prevents any customization.
Despite utilizing no advertising beyond an 8.5 x 11 inch “Bagels Bagels Bagels” sign posted in the store’s front window, Yetz’s Bagels is already drawing a hungry crowd. With Dunietz’s mouth-watering bagel recipe, word-of-mouth might just be all he needs to establish himself as the bagel mogul of I.V. Make sure to stop by earlier in the morning for the widest selection of bagels, as rising demand might leave your favorite flavor in short supply.
“I think that once you’ve tried one of Yetz’s Bagels, there is no going back,” Dunietz said. Visit the restaurant’s location on Embarcadero Del Mar to put Dunietz’s claim to the test.
A version of this article appeared on p. 8 of the January 18, 2023 version of the Daily Nexus.