End East Coast Bagel Snobbery

Photo by Matthew Piel
The Place: Market Bagels (1525 First Ave., 382-4297)

The Hole: A plain bagel, an everything bagel, and a tub of salmon cream cheese.

The Shit: You hear it from almost every Emerald City dweller who's spent time on the East Coast: "There are no good bagels here."

Holey Shit will explore whether that's true. If a bagel worthy of a New York Jewish mother exists in this city, we'll find it. And if no such thing is to be found, we'll at least tell you where to get a pretty good hunk of boiled carbs and schmear.

That brings us to Market Bagels. For years I've walked past its sign on First Ave., near Pike Place Market, featuring a bagel with wings. Like many stores in the market, it's a place I've meant to drop in on for years but never got around to.

On this first visit, I paused to read the lettering below the winged bagel. "The only thing unnatural is the size," it declares. Getting inside, the bagels behind the counter weren't exactly stunning in size. Nor was the selection extensive. That said, the basic flavors are all covered--onion, jalapeno, sun-dried tomatoes, blueberry.

Hoping to get a good cross-section of the shop's bageling ability, I selected a plain bagel and another baked with all the availabile savory toppings. For the most important touch, I picked up a tub of salmon cream cheese.

When it comes to bagels, you have to be brutally honest. With the experience of a few weekends in Manhattan behind me, I suspect that anyone who spent their college years eating them from a cart outside Central Park might be disappointed. It's hard to say exactly what the difference is. Maybe the crust-to-bread inside ratio isn't quite right. Perhaps it's just too soft on the outside, a little dry on the inside. Either way, it just isn't the same.

That said, Market's bagels aren't bad by any stretch. There's no skimping on the everything bagel toppings, and the cream cheese was fat-full and filled with chunks of smoked salmon. A thick layer of schmear on the everything bagel made for an ideal lazy Sunday-afternoon snack.

Maybe the answer to the Seattle bagel problem is to just accept that if you can't live without New York bagels, you shouldn't have left the East Coast. Get over it and enjoy what we do have.

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