Toasted, piled high with lox, plain, or crammed with meat/cheese/eggs, the bagel is a perfect vehicle for all of our culinary dreams. It's also a hotly debated item, not exactly on par with the great pizza debate of '11, but contentious nonetheless.
Below are ten great sources for bagels in Broward and Palm Beach. As always, please let us know what we missed in the comments section below (noting that "There's no such thing as a good bagel in South Florida" doesn't really count as an answer).
Using a recipe picked up in New York, this "sixth borough" bagel shop uses the kettle-boil method to prepare its rounds with a crispy crust and chewy interior. There's a good range of flavors from sweet (cinnamon crunch) to not-so-sweet (Russian pumpernickel). 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.
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 demand. 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 to jalapeño cheddar.
The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co.
Ask any New Yorker and he'll tell you -- sometimes at great length and with more conviction than warranted -- that NYC is home to the best bagels in the country. Nay, the universe! This chain lays claim to using the so-called "secret" ingredient that makes the New York-born bagel head and shoulders above those found anywhere else: the water. It uses a patented water-treatment system to duplicate the city's H2O, and admittedly, the finished product is delightfully crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, just as it should be.
This breakfast dive is known for friendly service and a menu that's easy on the wallet. The best bet is to incorporate your bagel into a full-on breakfast: The bagel sandwich with two eggs on a buttered bagel will help you fulfill your daily cholesterol count, particularly if you pair it with bacon, ham, or sausage and a side of home fries or grits (all that for less than $6). You can also keep it simple with a bagel and peanut butter or with the South Florida go-to, with sliced Nova and cream cheese.
OK, so the bagels at this mini chain -- there currently are three locations in Palm Beach County -- are good. But what really demands attention are the bialys, the flat cousin of the bagel. These Polish baked treats are one of the more popular "and..." items alluded to in the restaurant's enigmatic name. Either 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.
Flakowitz Bagel Inn
This bustling diner won't be earning any bonus points for its updated dining room or sparkling appearance anytime soon. Regardless, the bagel sandwiches -- with egg, cheese, and/or a choice of greasy meat -- at this New York-themed breakfast and lunch destination hit the spot. People-watch with Boca's most boisterous cotton-tops and a pretty steady group of regulars. In a hurry? Grab your dozen bagels at the walk-up window, and be sure to try the sesame seed.
Makebs Bagels and Deli
There are nearly 20 kinds of bagels on the menu at this West Palm Beach deli, but one of the best bets is a toasted everything with cream cheese, lox, tomato, and sliced red onion. If sweet is more to your liking, there's blueberry, cinnamon raisin, or chocolate chip. And then there's the long list of breakfast and/or lunch sandwiches, tons of which are available on your choice of bagel. The Neil Diamond 'wich is an everything bagel topped with salami, ham, and provolone, while the Madonna is a plain bagel with roast beef, roasted peppers, and... wait for it... virgin olive oil.
Bagels With Cafe and Deli
Appeasing Empire State ex-pats is no easy feat, but this Delray Beach 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, with 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.
As is demanded of any bagel worthy of mention, these are made on-premises every day. You've got your standards -- garlic, sesame, and cinnamon raisin -- but a few hard-to-find species like the white-Russian and the bialy (a flat, holeless Polish cousin to the bagel) also show up. The everything bagel is a crowd favorite and can be paired with smoked salmon for the quintessential NYC-in-Florida experience. Specialty bagel platters use the baked goods as a foundation for dishes like the salmon bagel bruschetta (veggie cream cheese, salmon, arugula, and olive tapenade) or smoked salmon club.
Pomperdale New York Style Deli
You're in good hands with these veterans of traditional deli fare and all things New York deli. Speaking of NYC staples, the fish platters with bagels and sliced fixings are a good go-to for breakfast or lunch at this Lauderdale landmark. Is it enough to satisfy a bona fide "New York is home of the best bagel" cheerleader? Perhaps not, but then, good luck with that mission.
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