Is the bagel hip-hop? The answer depends on what you add to it. Cheddar naturally helps. So does lox, the smoked salmon whose name is shared by the Yonkers rap group and a bagel sandwich at the Yeastie Boys truck.
If you’ve driven across L.A. in the last 18 months, you’ve likely seen the truck in front of Dinosaur Coffee, DTLA’s Stumptown or the Alfred Coffee in West Hollywood or Silver Lake. Last FYF, the Yeasties unveiled the Poppy St. Special, a tribute to Vince Staples featuring avocado and honey-chipotle cream cheese shmear on a poppy seed bagel with Swiss and smoked turkey, house-made onion jam and Kettle Chips.
A gold-plated A$AP Ferg bagel with gold flakes was discussed, but it didn’t manifest.
“I just love food and doing weird shit,” says Evan Fox, who co-founded Yeastie Boys in the spring of 2015 and bought out his partner earlier this year.
In an Election Day feat of one-upmanship, Fox collaborated with YG to give out free red “Fuck Donald Trump” bagels in Compton to those who voted.
“All we did was use dye — nothing crazy — but they came out so red it was basically bleeding on the paper,” Fox says. “YG’s mom rules. She’s a badass cook who hopped in our truck and started helping. We still have her little jam box — she left it there — and she has our apron. I need to give it back.”
Full of rapid speech, casual expletives and endearing enthusiasm, the instantly likable Fox is one of those people you feel within 15 minutes as if you’ve known forever. Wearing a beard, light jacket and plaid shirt, he orders up a bacon cheeseburger. Jack Black would play him in the movie.
The musical tie-ins wouldn’t mean anything if not for the exceptional quality of the bagels. The cream cheeses are homemade and savory. The bagels boast callipygian plumpness and chewiness rarely seen west of Brooklyn. They’ve already catapulted into contention for L.A.’s best.
It doesn’t hurt that the decal plastered on the truck quotes Outkast: “Sticking together like flour and water to make that slow dough.” A soundtrack of trap rap and Run the Jewels often blares when you order.
“My guys can’t cook without music that gets them amped,” explains Fox, whose father’s side of the family invented the Reuben sandwich.
The bagel’s hip-hop bona fides aren’t insignificant. It’s been name-dropped by everyone from Shaquille O’Neal to Action Bronson. On last year’s hit “Broccoli,” D.R.A.M. mentions an “acquired taste for salmon on a bagel/With the capers on a square plate.” The Beastie Boys cited picking up Bagel Bob’s on 2004’s “All Lifestyles.”
Raised in Phoenix, Fox acquired a taste for bagels in the Big Apple, where he worked as a music publicist for several years before relocating west. As a teenager and postadolescent, he sang in punk bands and started a label to release regionally famous groups such as Before Braille. His dream is an Operation Ivy reunion at his truck. His No. 1 bagel-rap dream collaboration is Nas.
When asked “why bagels,” Fox’s answer is straightforward: “Because I wanted them so bad when I got here, and I couldn’t find shit.”
That problem has since been remedied. Besides a permanent pop-up at Alfred Coffee in West Hollywood, the truck has two more pop-ups planned for this week — one next to the Eightfold Coffee in Echo Park, the other at Bow Truss Coffee Roasters in Beverly Hills.
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“When you go to a show, it’s a full-body experience, and it’s the same with food,” Fox says. “When your favorite spot is on fire that day, it’s an experience. I live for that shit. There’s nothing better.”