Sure, New York is the undisputed bagel capital of the world. Whether it's the water, the air, or something about the presence of the New Yorkers themselves, the city wins the title of Best Bagels.
But no matter how blessed with Brooklyn holy water each one might be, South Florida is the unofficial second home of not only New Yorkers but of the bagel -- and its close cousin, the bialy (the Yiddish word for that soft-baked -- not boiled -- Polish varietal that's missing the whole hole thing).
Some shops have perfect bialys, a vast array of homemade spreads, and dozens of bagel flavors to pick from. And depending on where you go, the bagels range from small and shiny with a paper-thin shell of a crust to fat, doughy, and fluffy.
Whether you like yours toasted and piled high with plenty of lox -- or stuffed with eggs, cheese, and bacon -- here are our picks for the best bagels in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Have an issue with our picks? Hash it out in the comments section, and let us know what we're missing.
10. Bagel Boyz
With four locations across Palm Beach County, the crew at this New York-style deli is well-versed in the rigorous bagel expectations of South Florida's numerous NYC transplants. And not to worry: The bagels here are indeed made in accordance with the typical demands. They're dipped in boiling water and then baked in a rotating oven to ensure that "crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside" feel that everyone craves. You can get any or all of the standard varieties, from cinnamon sugar to egg -- and even jalapeño cheddar. Bagel Boyz is located at 332 Banyan St., West Palm Beach; 561-670-2148, bagel-boyz.com.
9. Bagels With
Fresh bagels are the name of the game at this Delray Beach institution. The small eatery is known for its bagel sandwiches, especially. It might not be as "old neighborhood" authentic as lox and cream cheese, but the egg sandwiches are pretty damned good. (And no worries; they've got your lox too.) We all know appeasing Empire State ex-pats is no easy feat, but this breakfast/lunch spot does a good job of answering the question of whether any circular, boiled-and-baked treats have ever existed outside of the five boroughs. The bagel platters are especially popular. They include your choice of bagel paired with hand-sliced Nova or white fish salad and the typical fixings, like capers, red onion, cucumber, cream cheese, and tomato. Bagels With is located at 1732 S. Federal Highway, Delray Beach; 561-279-4799, bagelswith.com.
8. Boston Bagel Cafe
Every favorable bagel review has to reference New York in terms of "best" -- it's always Manhattan this or Brooklyn that. Just try that line at the Boston Bagel Café. Sure, the name says New England, but the café is pure Fort Lauderdale, locally owned and operated; there's actually not an original location in Boston. The bistro has no shortage of bagel flavors. There are about two dozen in total, from the standards (poppy seed, pumpernickel, onion) to the more gourmet varieties (spinach quiche, jalapeño cheddar, wild berry). Of course, plain bagels are no fun -- not when cream cheese comes in flavors like honey walnut raisin and Dutch apple cinnamon. Either way, if your order's more than seven bucks, there's free delivery. Just think, you could have your newspaper and breakfast delivered to your door. Boston Bagel Cafe is located at 964 NE 62nd St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-771-7221.
Flakowitz co-owner Robert Pirozzi's father bought the original from Mr. Flakowitz himself in Bronx, New York. Although that store sold a long time ago, Priozzi later opened a similar concept in Boca Raton he dubbed Flakowitz's Bagel Inn. In 2009, the second Boynton Beach location -- also a restaurant and deli open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- was featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and today has expanded to include a third shop in Wellington. According to Pirozzi, a team of ten bakers is hard at work each day cranking out dozens of hot, fresh, handmade bagels and bialys as well as authentic, New York-style Jewish classics. Flakowitz is located 7410 W. Boynton Beach Blvd., Boynton Beach; 561-742-4144, flakowitzofboynton.com.
6. Bagels &
The bagels at this Boynton Beach deli/restaurant are good. So good, you have to pay extra to have them sliced... 'cause they aren't about to stop and do it for you. Can't you see that line is getting longer and longer? The super egg is the way to go here. Of course, no matter what route you choose, the goods are made daily on premises and can be slathered in butter or house-made cream cheese in a variety of flavors. The main attraction? What really demands attention are the bialys, which come plain or accented with onion and poppy seeds. Bagels & is located at 6613 Boynton Beach Blvd., Boynton Beach; 561-732-9595.
5. Brooklyn Water Bagels
It might be a chain, but Brooklyn Water Bagels knows that if you're going to specialize in something, you better do it right. Known for its authentic Brooklyn product, the Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. has a few tricks up its sleeve: It never deviates from its old-world artisan recipe and even has its own water. This means that the dough is made fresh onsite daily and that each bagel is formed by the restaurant's automatic forming machine and then carefully shaped and placed by the baker. The bagels are then boiled, seeded by hand, and baked fresh in the traditional Brooklyn way. Most impressive is its "Brooklynized" water, a proprietary water treatment system called Brooklyn Water Works that replicates the natural composition of the water found in the Catskill Mountains, which -- in case you hadn't heard -- is the reason most people claim NYC bagels are the best. It's used in each restaurant, ensuring you'll always "taste the difference." Find them in Delray Beach, Boca Raton, and Hollywood -- and coming soon to Coral Springs and Fort Lauderdale. Visit brooklynwaterbagels.com.
Broward County residents swear by Sage, a longtime favorite for fresh bagels and bialys in Hallandale. A traditional Jewish deli without any of the unnecessary schmaltz, this bagel shop has been a neighborhood institution since the 1970s. Hand-cut lox, homemade matzo ball soup, and fist-sized piles of shaved brisket, pastrami, and corned beef piled high in overstuffed sandwiches would make any bubbe proud, while a special section of the menu comes with a stamp of approval from the local rabbi. Sage is located at 800 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Hallandale Beach; 954-456-7499, sagebagelanddeli.com.
3. Bagel City South
If you want to get a handle on the character of Boca Raton, just head over to Bagel City South. It's not the century-old bagel recipe, the Nova Scotia salmon, or the chopped liver that this busy deli offers. Nor is it the patrons, who are so dependable that servers know their orders by heart. Nor is it the servers themselves, who've been working there so long they've watched customers' kids grow up. No, it's the sign posted in the window: "No dogs allowed in chairs." Under them, yes, but not in them. Because whatever Boca Raton is -- which includes a place where canines are treated as well as children -- it's clearly not Paris, where people are so pup-nutty that they actually have tiny chairs made for their poodles. Arrive here early in the day and you'll be lucky enough to grab a bialy or two -- they sell out rather fast. Lucky for us, this is one of the only few of the places you can find a proper version of these doughy delights. Try the special cream cheese flavors, including avocado or blueberry, which rotate daily. Bagel City South is located at 6006 SW 18th St, Boca Raton. Call 561-393-5383, or visit bagelcitysouthbocaraton.com.
2. Way Beyond Bagels
Walk into this Delray Beach, lime-green market of Jewish delicacies and you'll find the place lives up to the name. In one deli case, a baker sets out rainbow marzipan bars and rugelach in apricot, berry, or chocolate. Nearby, another Way Beyond Bagels' employee doles out servings of smoked fish and preps bread for a pair of chopped salads. But the bagels here are the hallmark. They're so delicious that the former pastry chef of the French Laundry and Bouchon has written about them. Kettle-boiled and then baked, the rounds offer a crispy crust and chewy, aromatic interior. In flavors beyond standards, there's veggie, cinnamon crunch, sourdough pecan, and seven-grain. Pick up a dozen to go, with a selection of cream cheeses from early morning to late afternoon, as fresh rounds are baked hourly.There's a good range of flavors from sweet (cinnamon crunch) to not-so-sweet (Russian pumpernickel) and the savory (spinach everything). All are made with identifiable ingredients: fresh spinach in the veggie and real cinnamon in the, well, cinnamon, for example. Fresh bagels are pumped out all day, so you don't have to worry about gnawing on a chew-toy-like round just 'cause you get your bagel craving late in the afternoon. Way Beyond Bagels is located at 16850 Jog Road, Delray Beach. Call 561-638-1320, or visit waybeyondbagels.com.
1. Bagel Snack
Family-owned and -operated since 1972, this New York-style eatery and deli has been serving the people of Pompano Beach (especially the Palm Aire neighborhood) for more than three decades. In 1992, current owners took over and have been continuing to deliver the restaurant's cooked-on-premises bagels and bialys to snowbirds and locals ever since. Bagel Snack features bagels in all the traditional New York varieties: plain, poppyseed, sesame, rye, pumpernickel, onion, and garlic, but you won't find anything as sacrilegious as jalapeño or cranberry in the big plastic bins. They make bagels the old-fashioned way: First they boil 'em; then they bake 'em. Pick your favorite flavor and you'll get chewy, not doughy, bagels with a crust that requires teeth but won't break one. Bagel Snack also has the only decent bialys in South Florida and fresh cream cheese that will make the prepackaged stuff taste like paste. Bagel Snack is located at 1237 S. Powerline Road, Pompano Beach. Call 954-974-4564, or visit bagelsnack.com.
Nicole Danna is a food blogger covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.