October 6, 2021

Where to find the best bagels in Alabama

5.3 min read

Sure, bagels have ruled for more than a century in New York City and Montreal. But it wasn’t until the 1970s, when Lender’s started selling them nationwide in groceries, that the circular bread and accompanying spreads became universal at tables across the country.

Bagel making has, depending on which culinary historian you ask, roots among Jewish people in eastern Europe or Arabic origins.

It is the rare bread that’s first boiled in water—which helps firm the exterior—before it’s baked. Chewy and slightly sweet from the addition of malted barley flour (sometimes sugar, fruit, or honey too), bagels are endlessly versatile.

Berries, chocolate chips, jalapeños, and other flavorings are sometimes added to the dough. Or the exterior can be coated in coarse salt, garlic, sesame seeds, or poppy seeds. The combination of seeds and flavorings that top the “everything” bagels is the latest “it” seasoning for—you guessed it—everything.

Schmears have spread beyond simple cream cheese to a variety of sweet and savory—sometimes even spicy—accompaniments.

Some consider bagels the perfect hand-sized bread for sandwiches. The classic filling is lox, salmon that’s cured but not smoked. But just about anything works, especially breakfast favorites like eggs with bacon, ham, or sausage.

Fresh-made bagels are available from local bakeries throughout Alabama, some even via delivery. Here’s where to find Alabama’s best bagels.

Beehive Baking (Birmingham)

A delivery-only service, Beehive has made baked goods, including bagels, since 2017. It also sells Alabama products like Eastaboga honey, coffee beans roasted by Red Bike, and Tea Town tea. Its vegan-friendly bagels (classic, sesame, rosemary, and everything) are $11 for a half-dozen. Deliveries are Mondays and Fridays; order cutoffs are midnight Friday and midnight Tuesday, respectively. Free delivery to many communities downtown, south and east Birmingham, Irondale, and portions of Mountain Brook and Homewood. Minimum order required for delivery to select communities outside that zone.

(Beehive Baking Company/Facebook)

Big Blue Bagel Deli (Auburn)

Big Blue offers a baker’s-dozen types of bagels, including pumpernickel, blueberry, and cinnamon sugar, plus six types of cream cheese spreads. They use bagels to make pizzas, for breakfast or lunch sandwiches, or as a side with omelets. Bagel chips are available as a side with sandwiches, or served for scooping spreads like hummus. Order online, and pick them up at the store. Singles are $1.16 for bagel only, $1.25 for a cinnamon-sugar bagel, $2.11 with regular cream cheese, and $2.25 with a flavored spread.

(FetchMe Delivery/Facebook)

Canadian Bakin (Huntsville)

Montreal in the Canadian province of Quebec is the other great American bagel bastion, and Canadian Bakin pays homage with its Q-Becco sandwich filled with bacon, egg, cheddar cheese, and caramelized onion. (Ironically, the founder is not Canadian; he’s from north Alabama.) Bagels are $2 each or $10 for a half dozen. Cream cheese options include figs and honey, roasted garlic, and scallion-chive. Also find their bagels at wholesale customers including Huntsville coffee shops Honest Coffee Roaster, Offbeat Coffee Studio, and Rooster’s Crow Coffee. Online ordering is available.

(Canadian Bakin/Facebook)

Cravings (Tuscaloosa)

Cravings is a wine, beer and specialty-item grocery. Its café menu includes breakfast-style bagel sandwiches, which are available all day (a separate bagel-less lunch menu is served after 11 a.m.). Bagel choices are everything, plain, blueberry, and rainbow. Some of its bagel sandwiches ($4.50-$12.50) are typical—lox, eggs with cheese, for example. But some are relatively unusual, like andouille sausage or Taylor’s Ham from New Jersey (it’s really a pork roll; if scrapple and Spam had a baby, they’d name it Taylor). Delivery is available via Crimson2go.

(Cravings Tuscaloosa/Instagram)

Crestline Bagel (Mountain Brook, Cahaba Heights, downtown Birmingham)

Find up to 16 bagel options, including whole wheat everything, sweet onion, and sun-dried tomato. To ensure sufficient quantity, order in advance if you want to buy more than a half-dozen at a time. Bagels, which are certified kosher, start at $1.60. Bagels with spread are $2.35 and up, while bagel sandwiches start at $4.35. Bagel bites (either frosted blueberry or cinnamon and sugar) are $1.15 and up. Online ordering is available for curbside or in-store pickup, or order via Crestline Bagel’s app. Delivery is also available via the app.

(Crestline Bagel Company/Facebook)

Homewood Bagel Company (Homewood)

Order online for pickup, curbside, or delivery. Choices galore include regular-sized or mini bagels, and bagel sandwiches. Fourteen variations include ancient grain, chocolate chip and asiago rosemary bagels. A dozen variations on cream-cheese spreads include garlic-herb, cinnamon sugar, and pickle and dill; other spreads including peanut butter, Nutella, honey, and jam also are available. Singles are is $1.95 or $3.95 with a spread, half-dozens are $10.50 and dozens for $21. Cream cheese tubs (8 ounces) are $5 each. Advance orders are required for mini-bagel boxes ($30 for three dozen; $15 for 18).

(Homewood Bagel Company/Facebook)

McClure’s New York Bagel and Sandwich Shop (Orange Beach)

Seventeen bagel options include chocolate chip, French toast, and pumpernickel. They’re $1.99 each, $10.49 for a half dozen, or $20.99 a baker’s dozen. Buy a bag, which is a dozen bagels with spread, for $26.99. The sandwich menu made with bagels or other bread include The King (peanut butter, fresh sliced banana, and honey). Snow birds visiting the beach from the northeast may groove on the Jersey Pork Roll made with Taylor’s Ham (see the Cravings entry for an explanation). Online ordering is available Tuesday through Sunday, 7 a.m.–2 p.m.

(McClure’s New York Bagel & Sandwich Shoppe/Facebook)

Wild Yeast Kitchen (Central Alabama)

Its four types of bagels, $6 per half dozen, use organic, unbleached, and unbromated flour, some of which is freshly milled. Natural yeast adds a sourdough tang. There’s no storefront. Deliveries to portions of the Prattville/Millbrook area are on Thursday evenings (online ordering cutoff is 11:59 p.m. Tuesdays; subscriptions are available). Pick-up options include the Montgomery Curb Market on Saturday mornings (pre-order is available with a cutoff at 11:59 p.m. Thursday), or at the Five Points Deli and Grill parking lot in Cloverdale on Monday evenings (its ordering deadline is 11:59 p.m. Saturdays).

(Wild Yeast Kitchen/Facebook)

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