I love a good bagel in the morning, and there is nothing better than a warm, crunchy bagel to start my day. I don’t know about you, but there is just something about the combination of that crunchy crust and a soft, warm interior that can take a miserable morning and quickly turn it around. But with so many places to go for a bagel in Tampa Bay, how do you know where to go for the best bagel?
To help, we did the research for you and built our list of the Best Bagels in Tampa Bay so that you have a handy guide for where to go for your next bagel fix. Hopefully, if you have a favorite bagel spot in the area already, it’s on our list. If it isn’t, maybe we’ve found you a new bagel stop on your way to work.
But we had to start with the all-important question that every Epicurious person asks. What exactly makes a bagel a good bagel? Hopefully, knowing that will point us in the direction of the best bagel we’re looking for.
So, let’s start there, shall we?
What makes a good bagel?
For some, the question about what makes a bagel a good bagel is almost as thought-provoking as asking what is the meaning of life? While some can say without a doubt what makes a bagel a good bagel, we feel that the best bagels have a combination of the following five trademarks that can make just about any bagel, a good bagel.
Except for those frozen, store-bought bagels, they shouldn’t exist at all.
The Crust – The crust of a good bagel needs to have a crunchiness to it, covered in tiny micro blisters that only show up on bagels that have been boiled first and then baked. These tiny blisters give the bagel a huge, satisfying crunch.
Texture – The texture of a good bagel should be soft and chewy inside the crunchy shell. If you pick a piece off, which should not be easy to do, it will still retain some moisture and not feel dried out. Good bagels will return to the original position right away after your press on them.
To Toast, Or Not To Toast – That is the question. For many, the idea of toasting a fresh bagel is sacrilegious. If you’re buying fresh, hot bagels first thing in the morning from a good bagel shop, there should be no need to toast a bagel for your morning breakfast. However, if you’ve bought a dozen or, let’s be honest, two dozen to take home, and you want that warm, crunchy goodness, a light toasting is ok.
Boiled or Baked – The way a bagel shop prepares their bagels can have a major impact on the flavor and appearance of a good bagel. When bagels were first brought to this country by immigrating Jewish people, they boiled and then baked the bagels. Many bagel shops still prepare their bagels in the traditional method.
However, there are bagel shops out there that choose to simply bake their bagels like a loaf of bread. For some, this can be a preferable bagel. Either option is a good one; it comes down to personal preference.
Well, now that we know what to look for, we can head out and find the best bagels in Tampa Bay. With all the bagel shops in the Tampa Bay area, we knew we were going have to spotlight only the best, and we believe our Top 5 are your best choices out there for a quality, tasty bagel.
18 Bagels Co.
Among the reviews we read, one of the major things that set 18 Bagels Co. apart from the competition aren’t the bagels at all. It’s the eatery’s coffee ice cubes. People can’t stop raving about them. Touting a full menu, you can stop in for lunch or breakfast and load up your favorite bagel flavor with your favorite combination of meat, cheese, and veggies. Take it from us though, any bagel with jalapeno cheddar cream cheese will provide you with a savory, spicy way to start the day!
College towns across America have always been havens for good, tasty, and most importantly, cheap food. This is no exception when it comes to the bagel creations coming out of Bagels Plus. Located less than a mile from the University of South Florida, Bagels Plus offers a multitude of breakfast and lunch options that aren’t extremely expensive, making it a good place to stop for a quick bite to eat. Described by some as a hidden gem, it may not have a drive-thru like a lot of newer establishments, but it’s more than worth it to park your car and walk in for all of that goodness.
New York Bagel & Bean
For many people, New York Bagel & Bean is a must-stop when they’re on their way to work in the morning, and it’s no surprise to see why they feel that way. Affordable prices, a welcoming atmosphere, and friendly staff are all hallmarks of a great bagel joint. Open seven days a week, New York Bagel & Bean definitely has a feel of a place where the locals hang out and catch up over a warm bagel sandwich and a hot cup of coffee. With offerings of salads and sandwiches for lunch and dinner available certain days of the week, it could become your new go-to.
In a lot of areas, national chain stores tend to pop up all over a region, pushing the local shops out. This isn’t the case with Brandon Bagels, a neighborhood shop that the locals cannot get enough of. Between the authentic New York-style bagels and homemade cream cheese, it keeps the customers coming back. Make sure you get there early though, they can sell out quickly and will stop making more. Better yet, if you’re in a hurry, call ahead, and they will make your order for you to pick up.
Big Apple Bagels
While Big Apple Bagels is a franchise, it is locally owned bringing their customers some of the best bagels in the area. Providing a small, cozy, little place for lunch between friends or, if you’re working on your next novel, Big Apple Bagels will make you feel like you’re at home. And if you’re hungry, the wide array of bagels, sandwiches, and muffins will calm that craving you will definitely have.
What Are The Best Bagels in Tampa Bay?
The Best Bagels in Tampa Bay is obviously a subjective topic. Everybody has their own opinion of what makes a good bagel and which bagel shop is their favorite. Hopefully, your favorite appeared on our list. If not, then we’ve done a good job giving you options when you’re out and about.