A Well Rounded Breakfast: Philly’s Best Bagel Based Sandwiches

Spread Bagelry, the Standard | Photo by Jason Varney

Spread Bagelry, the Standard | Photo by Jason Varney

Wanna know if someone has ever spent any time living in New York City? Just take her out for bagels anywhere outside the five boroughs and listen to her go on for days about how no bagels are as good as New York City bagels. But you know what we do have? Some of the best regional variations you’re going to find anywhere (and the exceptional breakfast sandwiches made from them), plus our own booming local bagel scene. Here are six operations that take a backseat to no one.

Spread Bagelry // This Rittenhouse destination bagel shop does Montréal-style bagels—which means they’re hand-rolled, boiled in honey water, then baked in a wood-fired oven in small batches all day long. The bagels alone are worth coming for (as evidenced by the morning lines that can run out the door), but Spread also does some excellent breakfast sandwiches, like the Standard (pictured), with egg, cheese and cherrywood-smoked bacon. 262 South 20th Street, 215-545-0626.

South Street Philly Bagels // And while we’re on the topic of giving the finger to the Big Apple, how about some proudly Philly-style bagels? This Queen Village shop has been open nearly 20 years (and just expanded with a second location at 1705 Chestnut Street), supplies a lot of local coffee shops and cafes, and focuses almost exclusively on making bagels. Granted, owner Michael Wagner learned the craft from his Brooklynite father-in-law (a member of Bagel Bakers Local 338, no lie), but his two decades here make these authentically Philly. 613 South 3rd Street, 215-627-6277.

Knead Bagels // For starters, the bagels are excellent. But what really sets Knead apart is what gets done with those bagels once they come out of the oven. They become round palettes for flavor combinations like a pastrami-spiced bagel with smoked chopped liver spread, or a black sesame bagel with kimchi cream cheese. And while the breakfast sandwiches are fairly standard combinations of eggs, cheese and meats, this Wash West spot also does creative lunch bagel sandwiches, like roast beef on a garlic bagel with asiago, pickled kale and a cherry pepper aioli. 725 Walnut Street, 267-519-9920.

High Street on Market // Baker Alex Bois has been getting nothing but love for the miracles he’s able to make of some flour, some water and some yeast in Old City. His breakfast breads are killer, and chef Eli Kulp’s ham-and-red-eye-gravy danish recently got the cover of Saveur magazine. But Bois’s bagels—small, weird and misshapen though they may be—are a unique and delicious way to start your day. 308 Market Street, 215-625-0988.

Philly Style Bagels // What would a burgeoning trend be without a half-secret, Instagram-announced wildly overpriced occasional pop-up component? Partners Jonathon Zilber and Collin Shapiro spent months working on their bagel recipe (settling, finally, on sourdough starter and a beer bath), but when they finally came to Pizzeria Beddia in Fishtown for a series of pop-up breakfasts, they sold out so fast (at $2.50 per bagel) that most people never got to taste the results. Still, these things are the real deal, so it’s worth getting up a little early to secure a good spot in line for the next pop-up at Beddia. 115 east girard avenue; no phone.

Kermit’s Bake Shoppe // Baked goods? All the time. But it’s weekends-only for the bagels at Kermit’s. The garlic and the onion bagels are the best (provided you don’t mind what they do to your breath), and while there are no breakfast sandwiches made with these super-crusty bagels, the Point Breeze Shoppe does offer a variety of spreads. (For those of you looking for a weekday breakfast, check out the hot pockets sold daily until 3 p.m. They’ll only run you $4, and the bacon, leek and cheddar is awesome.) 2204 Washington Avenue, 267-639-4267.

Originally published in the April, 2015 issue of Philadelphia magazine