On my last morning visiting a friend in the New York City area, she went and got a sack of bagels from her favorite bagel shop. They were warm and chewy – pretty much the proverbial bagel the Big Apple is suppose to be famous for. A few weeks after returning home, I got to wondering if I could get a similar experience in Charlotte – a city more knowledgeable about biscuits than bagels. Turns out, I can.
Here’s what I found at City Deli and Bagel Co., Owen’s Bagels, and Poppy’s Bagel’s & More.
New York City Deli and Bagel Co.
1421 Elizabeth Ave., (980-207-3325)
Like all the bagel shops I visited, NYCDBC makes it’s own cream cheese spreads. Dorris Cross (customers call her “Dee”) has a jalapeño cream cheese that goes great on the Everything bagel lavishly coated with poppy and sesame seeds. Cross says she likes to educate her customers on all-foods New York. But once you try her cinnamon raisin bagel with the honey walnut cream cheese, no further lesson on anything is required. The combination of the bagel and cream cheese reminded me of carrot cake. I got there around 8:30 a.m. so the bagels were still warm, which made my experience all the more sublime. But if you can’t make it that early, Cross will toast the bagel for you.
Poppy’s Bagels & More
2921 Providence Rd., in the Providence Plaza. (704-366-8146)
It’s been almost four years since Ron Rippner opened Poppy’s. A Long Island transplant, Rippner moved to Charlotte with the intention of working in the banking industry. But the bottom fell out, so he thought he’d try his hand at bagels. His staff makes the bagels from scratch. The result are these puffy (but not airy) bagels which are pleasantly chewy with a bit of a crunchy exterior. The bagels are hearty. You’ll need a good 10-15 minutes to finish one – if you can finish it at all. Half of my blueberry bagel with blueberry cream cheese went into a bag to eat later. What I had left of my plain bagel with salmon spread (generous amount of smoked salmon is mixed in with a full-fat cream cheese) made a great lunch.
The bagels are sold in 18 area Harris Teeters.
2041 South Blvd., Suite G. (704-333-5385)
You almost have to know exactly where Owen’s is in South End because you really can’t see it as you navigate this particular stretch of South Boulevard. Pam Sbordone, the general manager at Owen’s, says they get a lot of their customers through word of mouth and social media.
The signature move at this nearly 10-year-old spot is steaming the bagels. This makes the bagels ultra soft, but still chewy. That warmth also means the cream cheese melts into the bagel. The bacon ranch (nice pieces of bacon along with scallions) on the Everything bagel is outrageous.
Owen’s gets it’s bagels from the Rockland Bakery in Nanuet, New York. Sbordone says some people say the bagels in New York are better “because of the water.” Ron Rippner says he’s had native New Yorkers tell him his bagels “are better than the ones they get in New York.” All I know is the next time I need a sack of bagels to serve out of town guests, I have a great selection of bagel shops to chose from.