READER'S PICK: On most weekdays and Saturday mornings, college students, kids, soccer teams and suits all flock to Bruegger's for the best bagels in town, boiled and baked on the premises. The chewy exterior contrasts with the warm, soft interior, slathered with your choice of rich cream-cheese concoctions (ranging from milk chocolate chip to salty Atlantic salmon). The key to Bruegger's success is a tried-and-true process that starts with dough (trucked in each morning) kettle-cooked in boiling water, and then baked to perfection. The glass wall of the kitchen gives your mouth plenty of time to water while you wait in line.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Einstein Brothers, 4708 E. Sunrise Drive. A few years ago, if you were to ask a seasoned New Yorker where to buy a decent bagel in Tucson, you'd have met with an incredulous stare, followed by a few choice words about the oxymoronic nature of your inquiry. The bagels served by the Einstein Brothers, Melvyn and Elmo, don't quite have the football-like chewiness of their east-of-the-Hudson counterparts, but they come pretty close, certainly close enough to stand up to a witticism on the menu: "People are like bagels, many varieties, but basically they're all good." At Einstein Brothers they come in many varieties indeed -- 21 at last count, with more on the way, ranging from your honest onion to a weird little chocolate-chip honey-grain concoction that'd send a New Yorker into a conniption fit. Pile on lox and a little shmear, bite down, and rediscover the theory of relativity.