6 Bagels Beyond Belief

Plain Sunday morning? Try a bagel that’s anything but.

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A bagel, in all its boiled, bland glory, is the ultimate blank canvas. Pave it with particles, flatten it, slather it with the wildest cream cheese, and it's still, at heart, humble. The Charlie Brown, the Ziggy, the Dilbert of breakfast foods. But with the right makeover, it might just be the life of the party:

French toast bagel 

“Beware,” said the fellow on line behind me at Goldberg's Rock'n Bagel Cafe (Harrison), “the bagels here all have holes in them.” (New Yorkers will do anything to jump the line). I persisted in ordering the French toast bagel: an egg bagel coated with egg wash, sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon that crisp up during baking, then hit with powdered sugar. The result is a donut-like punk rocker in this Rock'n bagel world. Serving suggestion: grill with butter.

Puffed-up bagels 

Who makes the tallest, fluffiest bagels in the county? It may well be The Bagel Loft (Tuckahoe), whose bagels are startlingly lofty, and so swollen that the hole is a memory. The store, next to the Crestwood Metro-North station, boasts old-fashioned, water-boiled, and hand-rolled bagels, omelets, pancakes, daily soup specials, and a large selection of sandwiches, with plenty of sunlit seating.

The Bagel Dog

 Tucked away on the children’s menu of Westchester Bagel Cafe (Scarsdale) is the Bagel Dog: a giant “pig in a blanket” of a Boar’s Head kosher hot dog wrapped in twisted bagel dough—as greasy and tasty as it looks. More obvious is the unusual selection of bagels up front, including marble (plain/pumpernickel) and "super onion" (an everything egg bagel, heavy on the onion). Across the street from the Lord & Taylor shopping center, the café is a favorite for Jewish specialties such as homemade knishes, smoked salmon, and pastrami sandwiches.

Party bagel

When is a bagel the life of the party? When it's the $20 “party bagel”: as big as a round loaf of challah bread, found at The Bagel Emporium (Armonk, Chappaqua, White Plains, Port Chester, Tarrytown), in plain or sesame, with cream cheese, lettuce, tomato, and sliced Nova lox. Even the regular bagels come in uncommon varieties such as sun-dried tomato, blueberry, and cinnamon-raisin English muffin.

Maple bagel 

“Try our scrumptious new maple bagel,” reads a sign at Village Square Bagels (Larchmont). It’s made with maple syrup, and its plain appearance belies a serious maple wallop. If you can't get to a stack of pancakes—well, I am sorry. But combined with the right cream cheese (and perhaps some hand-cut Nova), this might make for an interesting Sunday morning.

Jalapeño cheddar bagel and bagel pretzel 

Chili-heads, if you think a bagel is one big bland lost opportunity, you might just change your mind at Lenny’s Bagels (Rye Brook) when jalapeño slices hit your taste buds in the AM. Pretzel fans will find a new species to try: pretzels made with bagel dough—better than a salt bagel any day. I’m sure there must be salt bagel fans out there, as for some reason stores continue to make them.



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