The Great Phoenix Bagel Report - (long)
Who doesn’t like bagels? Well… me, cause I’m sick of them now. But I don’t consider the individual battles, but the long-term gain. In this case, it’s an education about all the bagels around the valley. I’ve tried to do my best to keep my own personal preferences out of this and stick with descriptions. Inevitably we’ll hear about “air bagels” and how such and such NY style is not NY style… and don’t even think about letting a Canadian in on the conversation. I’ve heard NYers debate with themselves what real pizza is (what’s so special about NY anyway?). If people from the same city can’t agree on what is “authentic,” I have no reason to hold a Phoenician outlet to those standards. I just want something that pleases me. In most cases I got a plain bagel, toasted, which some form of cream cheese. Typically plain or veggie. Occasionally I changed form, and I try to note those times. Some descriptions are more verbose… it depended on my mood at the time. A short description does not mean it was a bad bagel though.
IMO, the good news is that as long as you stay away from chains and places that don’t focus on bagels, then you’re gonna get something good, and driving all the way across the valley to visit a particular place is unnecessary, unless that’s your thing. I hope this helps all to find their favorite bagel spot. I know this isn’t exhaustive, but I’m exhausted, so I'm sorry if I left out your favorite.
Chompies – This was my first Phoenician bagel. I’d heard so much about chompies being THE bagel in town, I figured this was the place to start. I got mine at the Greenway location. The interior of the restaurant is amazing. It’s loaded with spreads, smoked fish, meats and pastries, including black and white cookies. Oh the harmony. The bagels have a thick crust, with some crunch and not considerable blistering. The interior was pretty dense and definitely chewy with a basic flavor.
3202 E Greenway Rd # 1281, Phoenix, AZ
9301 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ
1160 E University Dr, Tempe, AZ
220 S 9th St, Phoenix, AZ
NY Bagels and Bialys – This is another place I heard good reviews about. These were pretty similar to chompies, except a slightly crisper bite. The interior was chewy and dense, with a slightly yeastier flavor than chompies.
6990 E Shea Blvd # 109, Scottsdale, AZ
Lock, stock, and Bagel – This is a very different bagel. Some may even reject it being called a bagel. The interior was very light, nearly roll like, except that it could keep it’s structure, rather than smooshing as you bite. The outside was very blistery and certainly the crispiest of all the bagels I tried. They were also larger than any others.
7353 N Via Paseo Del Sur # 450, Scottsdale, AZ
Karsh’s – Karsh’s doesn’t toast the bagels or apply cream cheese. The just have packets you can get for a quarter or so. They had a plain flavor with a moderately dense, and very chewy interior. The crust was soft and chewy, but not at all crisp.
5555 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ
Back East – Medium thick crust with some chew and crispiness on the edge. Medium dense interior with a lot of chewiness. These have a unique flavor. I think they use more malt extract in the dough and they almost certainly boil them in considerably alkalized water, which lends to their pretzel-like flavor.
1628 E Southern Ave # 2, Tempe, AZ
D.J.’s – good, but unremarkable. Uniform texture throughout, not crispy or cruncy. Good chew.
13693 N Fountain Hills Blvd, Fountain Hills, AZ
Bagel Bakery and Deli – This poorly named joint serves up a quality bagel with a crisp bite and firm dough. I was convinced to try their eggnog bagel which was delicious. It was probably just an egg bagel with nutmeg. When I returned for a plain bagel I found a sign that suggested that, in confusing legal terms, suggested that the tenant was a deadbeat and would not be around any longer. Let’s all hope no harm has befallen him.
Safeway – I promised a grocery store bagel, so I went with Safeway. They had a medium chew and were slightly sweet. Naturally, they didn’t toast it. The crust was thin and nearly indistinguishable from the rest of the bagel.
Many valley locations
Einstein’s – These had a very soft, slightly chewy, but doughy interior. This one smooshed as I bit into it. The crust was chewy, but not at all crispy. Although it wasn’t my purpose to judge cream cheeses, I went with the sun dried tomato cream cheese and was very pleased. It would be great on a sandwich.
Hot Bagels – Chewy, medium thick crust, with a slightly crisp crust. The interior was interior soft and chewy. They had a basic undeveloped flavor with no sweetness.
6030 W Behrend Dr # 115, Glendale, AZ
Bagel World – Bell/16th? The taste of these was really great. It was well-developed and slightly sweet. The interior texture was also a little unique. It was slightly “holier,” but not necessarily light, much like an English muffin bread. I presume they use a wetter dough than many. The crust had parts that were crispy, but for the most part it was pretty run of the mill, which is a shame, because the rest of the bagel was quite good. Their cream cheese application was a little haphazard. With tax this came in at 2.04 making it the cheapest bagel and cream cheese I’d had.
1107 E Bell Rd, Phoenix, AZ
Kashman’s – smaller than most. Dense crumb with medium chew. Plain flavor. Good amount of toppings. Only sightly crispy. Good color. Medium thick crust. Good amount of cream cheese. I visited them at noon so it may not have been as fresh as possible.
23425 N Scottsdale Rd # 6, Scottsdale, AZ
32531 N Scottsdale, Scottsdale, AZ (not sure about this one)
Big Apple Bagel – Goodyear – Huge red flags entering this place. Lots of different food option, many of which look branded (like the infamous kronos gyro, not that they served these). It looks very much like a chain, and the worst harbinger, they also serve smoothies. Normally any place that serves X/smoothies, means I won’t like it. The service here was absurdly slow and inefficient, but they may be new. The bagel crust was crispy in parts, and chewy in parts. The crumb was medium light with a plain, but well-developed flavor. Their veggie lite cream cheese was outstanding. It was very different than the standard scallions and carrots chopped up in cream cheese. I could have been convinced the cream cheese was not lite, but I checked the ticket and it was right. The best part was that the cream cheese was actually seasoned. It tasted like the flavor of veggie crackers, which is to say, it had some umami to it.
965 E Van Buren St # 121, Avondale, AZ
WOW bakery. I expected an artisan style bakery when I came here, but it was a cramped bagel shop, with a very limited selection of other breads. The bagel was light colored, and quite doughy with a little chew to the crust. No crispness. The texture was about medium.
5115 N Dysart Rd, Litchfield Park, AZ
Hot bagels and deli - Another small place. This one was very busy… always a good sign. I asked for whatever was fresh, toasted. My server didn’t understand why I’d want a warm bagel toasted… some just don’t get it. I expect these bagels aren’t boiled. The crust was light and crispy and fairly thin. The crumb was medium-light with some structure so it didn’t give in, like doughy bagels. The flavor was very yeasty, making me think that they don’t rest the dough for a very long time to develop natural flavors.
13706 W Bell Rd, Surprise, AZ
Bagel Gourmet – All the bagels here were very light colored. Like Karsh’s these were fat with almost no hole. The flavor of this one was plain and the crust as neither crispy nor especially chewy, almost indistinghishable from the crumb, which was a little chewy. This bagel had a great toast to it. It was evenly golden brown throughout, rather than having black edges and a pale middle.
16845 N 29th Ave # 3, Phoenix, AZ
Bruegger’s – Very dense with nondescript flavor. It was desnse enough that it has the large, oblong holes from where layers of dough folded over each other. Very lightly toasted. Not an especially crispy crust with a medium thickness.
1038 S Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ
721 N Arizona Ave # 1, Gilbert, AZ
4929 W Chandler Blvd # 3, Chandler, AZ
Bagel Nosh – This was a light bagel with a doughy crumb and a very sweet flavor. Not sweet like a Hawaiian sweet bread, but very sweet for a doughnut. Medium-thin crust with not much chew.
1112 N Higley Rd # 101, Mesa, AZ
4855 E Warner Rd # 12, Phoenix, AZ
835 W Warner Rd # 109, Gilbert, AZ
2950 S Alma School Rd # 1, Chandler, AZ
Wildflower bread – Holy cow. Haters of big bagels BEWARE! These are huge. I have a medium sized, but rather dexterous, male hand. If I curl the tips of my widespread hand I would just be holding it. The crumb was very light. Nearly the density of a bolillo. It was not chewy at all, but maintained it’s structure well. The crust was thick, crispy and brown. These are almost certainly not boiled, but baked with some steam to give a sligt gloss. The cream cheese had much more character. It was tangier, and even had the flavor of sheep’s milk. I would like to know where they got it.
15640 N Pima Rd # 7, Scottsdale, AZ
6428 S Mcclintock Dr # 104, Tempe, AZ
3111 W Chandler Blvd, Chandler, AZ
2805 W Agua Fria Fwy # 6, Phoenix, AZ
3425 E Baseline Rd, Gilbert, AZ
16059 N 82nd St, Scottsdale, AZ
1380 N Litchfield Rd # K1, Goodyear, AZ
Big city bagel – Another unique one. I would say the texture of this bread was slightly dense, but more like “thick”. It’s sort of the texture of the sandwich bread of someone who can bake, but doesn’t do it a lot. I’m guessing that their was a little fat in the dough. Slightly moist with a yeasty flavor. The crust was very slight, with a little chew and the bagel as a whole looked rather hand formed.
15680 N Pima Rd # E1, Scottsdale, AZ
A.J.’s – Unlike other grocery stores, they’ll toast and schmear the bagel for you. The bagels are medium sized, and after toasting have a little crispness on the crust, but no chew. The interior is a little doughy and a little chewy. There was some taste to them that I couldn’t place. I think it reminded me of the flavor of a salty English muffin, but with a completely different crumb of course.
New York Bagels and Deli – They’re stuck in a very corporate looking strip center next to the Deer Valley Air Park. The bagel was a pretty average size and slightly fat. The top was very crispy with a medium thickness crust. The crumb was light and didn’t quite hold up it’s structure, although it was certainly not doughy. The flat portion of the bottom was very crispy/chewy. The taste was pretty basic, developed, and slightly salty
1515 W Deer Valley, Phoenix, AZ
Beyond Bagels – CLOSED!!! I can’t repeat what was said when I discovered this after driving to chandler from my place of the north end of the 101.
New York Bagel Café – These fat, glossy bagels had a great, well developed flavor. The crust was a little crispy and chewy, without requiring a battle to bite through them. The interior was a medium density and a little chewy as well. They gave slightly under the pressure of biting, but held there form pretty well. As an additional note, they add green chilies to their veggie cream cheese, which rounded out the flavor perfectly.
1070 E Ray Rd # 11, Chandler, AZ
Atlanta Bread Company – I hadn’t been here for anything since officially becoming a “foodie” or CH or whatever you want to call it. I remembered loving their breads, and not a few lunches made up purely of the bread intended for a bread bowl. I was shocked at how run-of-the-mill it felt since I used to adore it. They had two cinnamon raisins left and a whole wheat, which was my choice. Oddly, they used their brick oven to toast the bagel. I’m not sure if this is standard protocol or not, but it turned out an uneven, but good toast. The bagel itself was a standard bready bagel with an essentially indistinguishable crust.
1475 W Elliot Road, Tempe, AZ\
16495 N Scottsdale Rd # 5A-1, Scottsdale, AZ
7530 W Bell Rd, Glendale, AZ
Hmmm... i was afraid of that question... let me give some categories.
My most likely bagel - Chompies - It's very convenient to me and very good. Plus, they've got lots of other amazing stuff.
My favorite for a NY style bagel - NY Bagels and Bialys - They're just right on, plus they make stellar bialys.
My Favorite - Lox, Stock and Bagel - Hardly "authentic" but absolutely incredible. They're light, but have a solid structure and a ridiculously crispy crust. These shouldn't even be called bagels. They should be a new bread.
A chain to look out for - Big Apple Bagel - Not "Big City Bagel." They've got about 25 locations around the country. There's the one listed above and one in Anthem. For a chain they were great.
All in all, I discovered that you'll get a good bagel at any place whose intention is to make bagels, and isn't an enormous chain *ahem-stein.* Also, there's no bagel worthy of making a ridiculous trip for, unless that's your thing.
sorry, i meant to, but forgot about them, but i remember thinking there was another out there I needed to try. I would have added more, but I'm moving in a couple weeks and i wanted to get this up. Maybe I'll stop by there on my way out of town, but chances are slim I'll make that drive between now and then.
No, I should have made a note about that. I cut and pasted from google, so those addresses may be questionable. You'll definitely want to verify them before going. I'd recommend calling too, as i went to a few places that had shut down, even though websites were up in two instances.