Bagels are somewhat of an anomaly. The preparation work is bizarre (boiled dough?), and the calories, even without butter or toppings, are alarmingly high. However, the euphoric satisfaction is real, and so too are these GTA bakeries that churn out oven-toasted goodness by the dozens. Whether you take it with a schmear of cream cheese, a side of capers and lox, or untoasted and unadorned (weirdo!), before your next morning commute or work lunch, you must stop in to any one of these fine establishments.
St. Urbain Bagels | various locations
Billed as the best in the city, this famous Toronto brand earns its reputation by specializing in authentic Montreal-style baking. Always fresh, and always baked on the premises, these bagels are too good to describe. Visit their legendary location at St. Lawrence Market (in operation since the early 1990s), or take a quick run up to Bathurst & Steeles—well worth it.
Bagels On Fire | 2248 Queen Street East
Beaches residents have yet another reason to celebrate. This new, unassuming storefront is home to a husband and wife duo, and their massive wood-burning oven that turns dough into buttery batches of crispy-chewy magic. Spoiler alert: the bagels, though baked to perfection, are rarely, if ever, actually on fire.
Schmaltz Appetizing | 414 Dupont Street
Those in the know will recognize this hidden gem as the quaint carriage house behind Fat Pasha—purveyors of fine foods with a distinctly eastern flair. Connected in more ways than one, Schmaltz Appetizing is a delicious supplementary breakfast companion that features an equally robust fish menu ideal for piling onto one of the many varieties of signature doughy concoctions. Cater your next function with an exhaustive selection of Jewish delicacies.
Nu Bügel| 240 Augusta Avenue
This Kensignton Market mainstay has a simple, yet satisfying philosophy when it comes to bagels: stay fresh. Each savoury morsel is dutifully manufactured in house: the dough is boiled in honey water, then dressed in an array of mouth-watering ingredients (poppy, sesame, onion, coconut, etc.) and finally baked to perfection.
Gryfe’s | 3421 Bathurst Street
If you can manage the inevitable long lines, this midtown emporium will surely leave a lasting impression on even the most seasoned bagel connoisseur. There is very little glamour to this no-nonsense, cash-only bake house — the owners choose to reserve all of their love for the doughy goods — and regulars, understandably, have no complaints.
(Photo by Julep67 via Flickr)
Bagel House | 1438 Yonge Street
Another quality shop specializing in the Montreal method, The Bagel House, which operates out of four GTA locations (and one in Mississauga), is steeped in tradition. Having honed their craft in numerous Montreal establishments, these owners brought their tried and tested technique to Toronto in 1999, and the rest is history. Choose from a variety of signature cream cheeses, or build a sandwich out of a selection of fresh fish or meats.
What-A-Bagel | various locations
Don’t let the franchise format fool you—there is quality and tradition in each and every What-A-Bagel bite, from the far-flung 905 to the dirty downtown T.O. That’s right, with twelve locations to serve, this premiere family-run bagel business is surely familiar to all breakfast connoisseurs. BONUS! What-A-Bagel has got you covered on your birthday: Buy 6 bagels and get 6 FREE.
(Main photo by Chris Goldbergvia Flickr)