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Best Bagels

Brueggers Bagel Bakery
Four Locations

READERS' PICK: Brueggers is a chain. It's everywhere from Boise, Idaho, to the Big Apple. But don't hate them because they're bountiful. Brueggers is totally and completely obsessed with freshness (unlikely for a corporate conglomerate, but true). Brueggers' bakers stir that boiling cauldron of glistening dough constantly throughout the day. You can see for yourself by glancing through the kitchen window while waiting in what's almost always a fast-moving line. There's no need to be concerned about the freshness of a Brueggers bagel. Besides the baking regimen, the popularity of the product ensures those wire bagel-bins are routinely replenished with every variation, from sun-dried tomato basil or cinnamon-raisin to traditional pumpernickel and seeded varieties. Don't forget to ask for the Seventh Heaven card: Buy six-dozen bagels and the seventh dozen is free. (They also have individual bagel punch-cards.) And if the humble bagel and cream-cheese spread doesn't suffice, try one of the ample sandwich innovations, like the peanutty Thai Kwon Do with tasty chicken satay, sprouts and tomatoes.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Here's God's honest truth about bagel connoisseurship: Like knowing a good knish when you taste it, you're either born into it or you're not. The most Jewishy of bagels will resemble the ones from Manhattan. They're not soft. They're not made with pumpkin or sun-dried tomatoes. They're not small. The Jewish bagel has a hole which allows light to pass through, and it's chewy but not hard--sort of analogous to al dente pasta. Listen, we didn't wander in the desert for 40 years just to bite into a puff ball or a knot of dough that cuts the roof of our mouths. Newfangled bagel joints may come and go, but The Bagelry (two locations: 2707 E. Broadway; and 2575 N. Campbell Ave.) is the only place in town where you can get a truly Jewish bagel. Mazel tov.

Case History

1998 Winner: Bruegger's Bagel Bakery
1996 Winner: The Bagelry

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