Bag a Bunch of Bagels

Twin Cities bagels, revealed, celebrated, or mocked mercilessly, depending on which paragraph you read

Offenses against humanity: None. Except that it's going to be impossible to drive through Uptown once they put up those huge condo towers behind Zeno. What? I know it has nothing to do with Zeno, I'm just saying. I also think things from the Design Within Reach store look a lot better in the catalog then they do in person. Yes, I'm done now.


The Brothers' Deli, 50 S. Sixth St., Skyway Level, Minneapolis; 612.341.8007
Bagels: Brothers' also air-freights bagels in from H&H, so everything I said about Zeno's bagels also holds for Brothers'.

D'oh! St. Paul Bagelry boasts the best of the homegrown crop
Jayme Halbritter
D'oh! St. Paul Bagelry boasts the best of the homegrown crop

Location Info


Crossroads Deli & Bakeshop

2795 Hedberg Drive
Hopkins, MN 55305

Category: Restaurant > Deli

Region: Hopkins

Weight: Excellent, especially if you get your bagel toasted with lox and cream cheese for $5.39, or extra-extra stuffed for $9.09, which grants you an all-access-pass to the pickle bar filled with New York deli classics like pickled beets, three-bean salad, half-sour pickles, and the works.

Extra points: I saw a trio of sexy business blondes, you know the type, with the $300-an-hour colorists and the Tahari suits? Anyhoo, each and every one of these well-Pilates'd beauties was lustily tearing into an overstuffed New York deli sandwich. Is there a secret rebellion brewing against the anorexic twerps of InStyle, and In Touch? Oh Lord, please make it so.

Offenses against humanity: None.


Cecil's Delicatessen, 651 S. Cleveland Ave. S.,
St Paul; 651.698.0334
Bagels: Really awful. I called up St. Paul's most venerable and beloved deli just to check whether they made their own bagels, although I was quite sure they didn't. They do. And I wish I'd never asked. When I visited I got pale, Wonder Bread-like bagels. If you take one between thumb and forefinger, and slowly pinch, your fingers will readily meet and have only a millimeter or two of bagel between them. That just ain't right. They also taste floury and uncooked.

Weight: Marshmallowlike.

Extra points: Nice blintzes, excellent grilled sandwiches, fresh, hot potato latkes whenever you want them. A St. Paul institution.

Crime against humanity: I feel like I'm kicking puppies, saying something bad about Cecil's. Whatever possessed me to write about bagels, anyway? And all I had to do to not make trouble for myself was shut up and stay home. Will I never learn?


Bruegger's Bagels; multiple locations
Bagels: Good, especially when compared with the other chains. A few years ago when I did my last bagel roundup, I found Bruegger's to be the absolute bottom of the barrel, making bagels I remember as floury pucklike objects. I don't think I'd been there since, but in 2004 the Vermont-based chain went through an ownership change and reinvigorated itself, and it's now much improved.

Weight: Good. The Bruegger's bagels I tried had telltale teensy blisters on the outside, meaning that they were misted with water before baking to give the crust a nice chew, an extra effort that I both recognize and appreciate. They're not as distinct and personality-plus as the St. Paul Bagelry bagels or the H&H imports, but in my roundup I found Bruegger's to be the best of the chain-bagel bagels.

Extra points: Spend as much time in bagel chains as I have, and it becomes clear that these businesses are at war with their product. You can almost hear the focus groups whining, "Bagels are too hard, and they hurt my teeth. I would like them to be more like toaster strudel. Without carbs." Kudos to Bruegger's for making their super-soft non-bagels a different product line: the puffy, pouffy, balloonlike square bagel.

Crime against humanity: What is xanthan? Why is it in so many things, including my tub of Bruegger's onion and chive cream cheese? It sounds like a place Klingons live, or possibly a musical instrument from the Caucasus. Oh, don't tell me xanthan gum is a microbial desiccation-resistant polymer prepared commercially by aerobic submerged fermentation, I can Google things too. I just don't want to.


Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, 7230 Valley Creek Rd., Woodbury; 651.578.1922
Bagels: Puffy, soft, and flaccid.

Weight: Just hefty enough to be recognizable as a bagel.

Extra points: A friend of mine dropped by while I was examining some bagels and, misreading the bag, asked, "What's Cheesy Peak?" at which point I replied: "It's pronounced Cheesy Low." Hoo boy! That was a good one.

Crimes against humanity: Numerous. First, Chesapeake is the number-one bagel source for bagels with glossy frosting and multicolored sprinkles. You could get a chocolate-frosted bagel bite ($.59) that looks like an éclair. You could get a blueberry bagel topped with frosting and purpleish candy doohickeys. Or, if you're completely insane, you can pay $1.89 for a cranberry-orange frosted bagel knot, a Big Mac-sized knot of bready, underdone bagel dough topped with a greasy lid of sugar icing. I did this. It kind of reminded me of getting one of those pans of cinnamon rolls from the grocery store and spreading the icing on a cold pizza crust, and it kind of reminded me of the last time I got shocked by a light fixture and fell off my ladder.

The second major problem at Chesapeake is that far too many bad, cafeteria-trendy ideas from the last 20 years live on here. I mean, don't even think of going to another restaurant on earth when you want a Cordon Bleu melt on a croissant, your date craves a Baja chicken wrap with ranch dressing, and you both want to wash it down with some Cheeseburger Deluxe soup. I think the highlight of my visit was the Fargo-like moment when, at the only other occupied table, a woman suddenly shrieked, "Jeez, you got a lotta friends with problems!" Or, it might have been when I threw out the iced knot.

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