A small part of my youthful days were spent as a bagelmeister in Queens, New York. The name of the place was Bagel World, and it produced thousands of hole-filled rolls each day -- mostly for wholesale to New York restaurants. We also made bialys and "bulls," which is the industry word for extra large bagels used for sandwiches (I haven't seen any bulls in Miami). The crew was entirely composed of African-Americans, and because my first name is the same as that of a certain confederate hero (although not to them) they called me "General" -- easily the best restaurant nickname I ever got tagged with, uneasy racial overtones notwithstanding (just kidding; it was done in good spirit). I'm pretty sure I had a point to make when I started this paragraph.
Now I remember: Bagel World made the most delicious, malt-laden, crisp-crusted bagels I've ever had -- meaning I know a good bagel when I see and taste one. The winner of our 2011 Best Bagels award was The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co., which does make a great specimen. These five will do as well.
Bagel Emporium & Grille
Its location across from the University Metrorail station has made Bagel Emporium a student hangout for years. They eat all sorts of dishes from the extensive menu, but during the morning hours most indulge in freshly baked bagels. Like all the places on this list, bagels are baked fresh daily and a full breadth of varieties are offered. All necessary accoutrements (cream cheese, smoked fish, etc.) are likewise available here and at the places below.
New York Bagel Deli
This company has expanded in recent years to Brickell, Biscayne, and downtown, but the original on Collins Avenue and 65th Street has been in operation for some 15 years.
Along with traditional varieties, New York Bagel Deli also proffers a dark, wheaty Mediterranean version with olive oil, sesame and poppy seeds, garlic and parmesan on it -- one of the better fancy-shmancy renditions around. Bagels are $1.19, a baker's dozen costs $10.99.
Bagels & Co,
North Miami-Dade residents have been swearing by Bagels & Co. for years. They cram into booths and sit over bagels-and-shmears at the Formica tables. Also on homemade blintzes, but let's not get off track.
Old school wait staff are friendly in an old school way -- we'll let you figure out what that means when you go there. But really, the reason this place won our Best Bagels 2009 is because they make an ideally classic bagel.
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Bagel Bar East
Talk about staying power: This bagelry first copped Best Bagels in 2000, and repeated the feat ten years later. New Yawkers squawk positively about this place, and not just because the crusty chewy sesame/poppy/onion/etc.bagels are also still hand-rolled, but also for the Sunday morning vibe at the counter, where folks have their bagel, cream cheese, Nova and coffee.
It is said that the W Hotel, Ritz-Carlton South Beach and Setai get their bagels from Bagel Bar East -- but you can grab 'em right here for a dollar per, or $9.50 a baker's dozen.
The Bagel Express
Henry and Maria Herzbrun have been rolling out fresh bagels to the Kendall community for over twenty years. All the main options are on the board, along with whole wheat and eight-grain varieties. The bagels are baked in the morning and often sell out before noon. These are bagels made the old fashioned way, with brittle bronze crusts and soft yeasty dough within. It's $1.35 per bagel, or $11.95 for the baker's dozen. Also: The Nova lox is hand-sliced. The Bagel Express copped our Best Bagels 2008 nod, and hasn't slipped a bit since.