Bagels are the doughnut of the bread world: a little ring of all that is good and pure. They're the great bridge between sweet and savoury, breakfast and lunch.
Bagels have the power to harness fillings that just seem too jazzy for the humble sanga, lifting your lunch game to new levels of winning. Whether schmeared or stuffed, here's where to find the best bagels in Brisbane.
While Bowen Arrow is pared-back in appearance, its bagels are anything but. This Bowen Hills cafe is famed for a rotating range, which are either spliced and topped with crazy delicious combinations or piled-high with seasonal fillings, like cinnamon-glazed pear with ricotta and walnut, and a summery raspberry and pomegranate combo with lemon cream cheese and orange zest honey.
The Tiller Coffee
Holed up in a rust-red shipping container, The Tiller Coffee folk are known for their java (will that be cold-drip, AeroPress or filter?) and their well-stuffed bagels. Think dark rye bagels polka-dotted with sunflower seeds or the timeless poppyseed, holding onto bacon, avo and rocket, or vego-friendly mushroom and haloumi. Fillings come and go but grilled peach with minty yoghurt and sweet dukkah is forever (at least we wish it was).
A whole shop solely dedicated to bagels? We can't think of anything better. With an extensive list of over eighteen bagels, plus weekly specials, Unbearable Bagels has something to fill every central, bagel-sized hole in your stomach. Their menu offers staple bagel schmears like cream cheese, blueberry mascarpone or confit garlic and herb which are available on your choice of a plain, sunflower & rye, garlic, jalapeño, poppy seed, blueberry or gluten-free bagel. For those feeling they need a bit more substance on their bagel, some menu highlights include 'The Dealbreaker' with hash brown, egg, cheese, caramelised onions & barbecue sauce as well as 'The Nightshift' with salmon gravlax, cream cheese, cucumber, capers, dill, onions, a squeeze of lemon, salt & pepper.
If you can’t enjoy a New York-style bagel in its heartland, a jaunt out to NKB Express at Indooroopilly is the next best thing. Pull up a pew in a leather booth, pretend you don’t see those Coney Island waffles and get your belly ready for bagel time!
Take your pick from the New Yorker (smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers on poppyseed), Soho (slow-roasted mushrooms, sundried tomato tapenade, grilled spinach and zucchini on white) and the breakfast bagel (egg, bacon, avo, feta and relish on white). To drink? A Chocolate Oreo shake. Your diet? Fuggedaboutit.
Where do you think all these perfectly boiled breads are coming from? Some kitchen-bound superhero who tip-toes into cafes every morning with a warm batch of bagels for the good citizens of Brisbane? Well, you're right. Their names are Ian and Ben and their capes read 'The Bagel Boys'. We salute these gallant heroes and their selfless mission.
The Boys operate a daily bagel run to a long, long, LONG list of cafes and delis around the southeast, including some of the cafes on this very list! They also now have four Bagel Bar venues in the Brisbane CBD, QUT Gardens Point, UQ Campus and Milton where you can grab a half dozen buns or a tasty lunch for no more than $12.
NYC Bagel Deli
Another location that produces its own bagel buns, as well as the delicious fillings that should always be served with them, is NYC Bagel Deli. With locations at West End and Chermside, NYC Bagel Deli has smartly put pictures of their bagels on their online menu so you can eat with your eyes first before actually indulging in one of their hearty bagels.
If you're a minimalist when it comes to bagels, some of the lighter options include avocado, peanut butter or just butter (if you love their bread that much). On the other hand their 'classics' menu is chocked full of goodness with their chicken breast, bacon, tomato, swiss cheese, aioli and rocket bagel and their 12-hour pulled pork, swiss cheese, pickles and apple slaw bagel.
There’s arguably no better way to start the day than with a robust breakky bagel. Paddington’s Scout plies theirs with fried egg, kaiserfleisch (super tasty German ham), cheddar, tomato, relish, aioli and rocket. Add a pot of chai tea and your favourite broadsheet and you’re set to whittle away a weekend morning.
That said, it’s lunchtime when the bagel is most celebrated at Scout. Current incarnations include smoked salmon with sesame and pickled ginger schmear, pickled cucumber, wasabi mayo and cos as well as roast eggplant, taleggio cheese, fermented chili aioli, pickled white onion and rocket.