Pearl’s Sourdough Bagels Shine

Allee and Oliver Cox own Pearl’s Bagels in Shaw. Photo by Alexander Padro, Courtesy Shaw Main Streets.

Fresh, hand-rolled sourdough bagels, sandwiches and spreads await you at Pearl’s Bagels (1017 Seventh St. NW). Owners Oliver and Allee Cox make the bagels daily from scratch with their favorite components of New York and Montreal bagel styles. They named the shop after their French bulldog Pearl. Locally owned and sourced, Pearl’s collaborates with other local businesses to make its menu even more distinctive to DC.

The owners moved to the District over a decade ago to work in the media industry. Having grown up in places where good bagels were easy to find, the Coxes soon discovered the lack of fresh bagels in Shaw and decided to make a career change. 

They began with a sourdough starter, a key component of any sourdough-based bread. “We were gifted a little piece of sourdough starter by a good friend of ours who got it overseas,” Cox said. “That same little sourdough starter is what is behind all of the bagels that we are still making to this day.” The sourdough gives Pearl’s bagels their tangy flavor compared to traditional bagels. Cox says that’s what sets them apart from “run of the mill” bagels.

In addition to the bagels, which are made from just six ingredients, then boiled and brick-oven baked, the shop offers a variety of sandwiches, many of which feature ingredients from other local businesses. They source chicken sausage from Shaw’s Puerto Rican restaurant Qui Qui, hummus from Little Sesame, greens and edible flowers from Little Wild Things and bacon and sausage from MeatCrafters, among other ingredients. Cox said he loves working with local businesses and sees these collaborations as an opportunity to minimize waste.

One of Pearl’s most popular menu items, the Pharmacy Special sandwich, holds personal meaning for the Coxes. When the pair met as interns at a news station on Nantucket, they frequented the Main Street Pharmacy, which served breakfast sandwiches. “Our first date,” Cox said, “was a trip to the local pharmacy to get a breakfast sandwich, so the name is a nod to where we met.”

Pearl’s Bagels is open Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Catering is also available. View the menu and order bagels online at

Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at