Paul Osher is a self-proclaimed morning person.
"I really like waking up, getting to work, finishing up and going home," said Osher with a smile.
So it only makes sense Osher and his wife, Raquel, own a breakfast restaurant in the bustling heart of Ballard.
"Rachel's is a bagel and burrito spot. We make everything here from scratch. The bagels are baked off every morning. We're really proud of the product we put out," explained Osher.
Rachel's Bagels & Burritos is the product of a successful pandemic pivot. For some seven years, Paul and Raquel ran a popular brunch place called Porkchop & Co. Then, the lockdown hit, and Paul and his team found themselves with a rock-solid bagel recipe and a fridge full of unsold food.
"We had been planning on opening a bagel shop up the street," said Osher. "We knew we wanted to do that, so we kept going with the bagels. One of the cooks suggested doing breakfast burritos with the stuff in the refrigerators, so we started doing that and we've been doing it ever since. We started it on the first day of the lockdown and it still feels good."
Osher tells me he first started experimenting with bagels back in 2018, but it took him two years of tinkering with the recipe until he was satisfied with the product. Turns out all that R&D was worth it. The bagels at Rachel's have quickly earned a rep as among the best in the city.
"What I'm really proud about with our bagels is that we have a product that is crispy on the outside, chewy but still light on the inside and has a lot of flavor," said Osher.
The bagels come in a variety of standard and more unique flavors like za'atar and togarashi, available straight up, with a schmear or as a full-blown bagel sandwich. One of Osher's personal favorites is the Nino Art with wild-caught lox, scallion cream cheese, pickled jalapeño and avocado.
"My background is putting together a menu like a chef, so I'm never satisfied with having the same menu over and over again," explained Osher. "The other thing is I grew up going to a bagel shop that was like Baskin-Robbins. It had 30 flavors every day. So, between those two things, it's always been 'let's try this on the bagels, let's do this, let's do this sandwich, let's try something different this time.'"
Osher describes Rachel's as a collaborative kitchen, one where everyone has a voice. Most of the menu items are named after employees or friends. While the bagels certainly get plenty of much-deserved love, the top-selling item at Rachel's is, fittingly, The Raquel, the chorizo breakfast burrito.
"A good breakfast burrito is something that warms you up on the inside. It's a big hug in a tortilla," said Osher. "We've spent a lot of time trying to nail down that balance between the eggs, potatoes, the size of the potatoes, the cheese that we throw in. Everything has been a decision that we've carefully thought about. The result is something that is so comforting, so delicious, so satisfying and so big that I think they really just work."
Whether you're a morning person or not, a visit to Rachel's is the perfect way to start the day. Comforting food, made with care, that is - above all - absolutely delicious.
"We're not trying to reinvent breakfast or anything. We're just trying to give you something that puts a smile on your face, something that you eat and walk away feeling better."