When I'm in New York, I eat a lot. I eat everything I can get my hands on. I don't leave without seeking out great pastrami, some kind of smoked fish, and a bagel. You know what food I never, under any circumstance, look for in New York? Tacos. That would be like someone from Chicago going to Miami to eat deep dish.
So why would I expect to find good bagels in San Diego? I never have. While I am keen on the Montreal bagels imported by Mess Royale in Hillcrest, those are flown in, not baked on site.
1000 Island Avenue, East Village
Somehow, I missed Brooklyn Bagel. The East Village scratch bakery offers New York style bagels and bialys, and managed a fair impression of both. Without getting into discussions about the New York water table and authenticity, I'm just going to say these bagels sit at or around the top of the local bagel food chain.
Brooklyn offers all the varieties one might expect: sesame, poppy seed, cinnamon and raisin, egg, blueberry, and everything. There are also cheese-infused jalapeño and a cheddar everything that should be irresistible to the let's-have-it-all crowd.
I opted for sesame and decided to make it a sandwich. Divided between breakfast and lunch menus, the bagel sandwiches here also cover familiar ground. There's bacon, egg and cheddar, smoked turkey and tuna salad. I opted for the Undisputed Best — pastrami with fried egg and cheddar, because I'm predictable.
The hot pastrami variation ate messy, with a mix of runny yolk and melted cheese grease dripping down my arm. I can't be sure, but I would guess I was smiling as I ate, because the bagel had a great chewy texture, and the egg and cheddar added another level of indulgence to the delightfully fatty pastrami.
It filled me up, despite going down in only three minutes. The bagel impressed me enough that I picked up another to go, along with a bialy — which is similar, but not boiled before baking. I ate the fresh bialy — complete with onion filler — on the way home, and liked it a lot. But it's the bagel that'll bring me back to East Village, which is almost urban enough to feel like New York, if you squint, and aren’t craving tacos 12 hours a day. Maybe a carnitas bagel sandwich is what this city needs?