In the MP3-playered, rhinestoned, jelly-braceleted years of the '00s, there was great fearmongering of many things, including bread. Bread was a big target for impressionable young girls, who were informed by magazines that eating one bagel is equivalent to consuming three to five slices of bread. Seems like a wild range, right? But to all who have ever been disappointed by an imposter that looks like a bagel, says it's a bagel, though is not dense like a bagel, that wide range makes sense.
Bagels are now, thankfully, no longer the food villain. It's hard to keep track of who the current one is, but hopefully, we have switched to a fuller understanding of health that doesn't involve a wholesale demonizing of things such as carbs. Bagels are largely incredible because of their condensed breadiness. But a real bagel is more than that. Much has been said about what makes a "real bagel," but one thing is for sure: All the places on this list have that ineffable real bagel quality.
The word "deli" is short for the German delicatessen, which can be traced to its Latin root, delicatus, meaning "giving pleasure, delightful, pleasing." As a place, delis definitely live up to that delectable etymology. Stein's Market and Deli in the Lower Garden District is a Jewish and Italian deli that invites you to revel in sensory overload. Among their bubble-lettered sandwich boards, cases loaded with cured meats and 50+ kinds of cheese, and shelves stacked with everything from Zapp's to wine, it's hard to find one focal point. For the purposes of National Bagel Day, we're going to keep our eyes on their selection of Davidovich Bagels. Enjoy their hand-rolled and kettle-boiled bagels in a minimalist way, with butter, or max out with a hearty schmear of Acme Whitefish Salad. 2207 Magazine St., (504) 527-0771, steinsdeli.com
Kosher Cajun Deli & Grocery
you're in Metairie, Kosher
Cajun Deli & Grocery is the New York-style deli that
is growing to be a rarity in NYC. You know, the kind of place with checkerboard
floors and matching black-and-white parchment paper that lines the red basket
in which your toasted rye Reuben is cradled and served to you, pickle and all.
"Best New York Deli in New Orleans!" the menu exclaims, and they're not wrong.
Bridging the two worlds, they offer a "kosher shrimp" po-boy that stands its
ground in taste compared to the taxonomic shellfish. Order a bagel and lox complete
with capers. 3519 Severn Ave., Metairie, (504)
Laurel Street Bakery
Uptown, there is Laurel
Street Bakery, a place that is devoted to the foundations
of food and community. The person behind the mini-utopia is Hillary Guttman. On
the bakery website, Guttman writes that after Katrina, she realized that NOLA
deserved "a bakery that serves the community and becomes part of it, not a
corporate box building that could be dropped anywhere else in the country."
That driving ethos is infused into their products and service, whether it's a
marble rye bagel or the house-made cream cheese. 2701 S. Broad St., (504) 897-0576, laurelstreetbakery.com
you need another reason to rejoice on a Friday, remember that the business week
is capped off by Friday-only house-made bagels at Bywater Bakery.
The place is a neighborhood staple that uses its walls to display the work of
local artists. Go in early to get one of their adventurous flavors, such as
asiago, jalapeno, or veggie. Make it a thing by turning your bagel into a
bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich to start the day off right. 3624 Dauphine St., (504) 336-3336, bywaterbakery.com
Humble Bagel bakes their goods in-house, and you can tell the difference. They designed their kitchen just so you could see the hand-rolling, kettle-boiling, mouthwatering process, and by some form of alchemy, they only need five ingredients to make their products: flour, water, cane syrup, salt, and yeast. Humble Bagel understands the importance of supporting local businesses, so they get what they need from nearby (Steen's is their cane syrup source, and their coffee is from NOLA roasters). Humble Bagel loves dogs. Humble Bagel loves your dog and invites you to enjoy their outdoor seating with your fur-baby. Humble Bagel is very humble about all this information, so we are bragging for them. Swing by and get one of all of their bagel flavors: plain, everything, cinnamon raisin, honey whole wheat everything, salt, poppy, sesame, garlic, onion, and whatever special they've got going that day. 4716 Freret St., (504) 355-3535, humblebagel.com