Let’s face it: We're far from New York City, the bagel mecca of America, but that doesn't mean Columbia can't hold its own. Our top bagel spots mostly specialize in the savory variety, but supply sweeter flavors as well. All of these bagels are homemade and under $5, including the cream cheese.
Carolina Cafe and Catering Co.
These bagels are big and will definitely hold you over until lunch. With more than 10 flavors to choose from, sun-dried tomato is the most intriguing. The chunks of chewy and tangy sun-dried tomatoes aren’t sparse in this whole-wheat bagel. The generous amount of tomato combined with the doughy texture makes this bagel a substantial meal. Carolina Cafe boils their dough instead of steaming it, which gives it that classic, doughy texture. The oregano aromas of the bagel pair well with Carolina Cafe’s homemade garlic herb cream cheese. The spices, sun-dried tomato and garlic herb cream cheese is a godly combination. While not obnoxiously garlicky, this cream cheese could keep the vampires away. Carolina Cafe also toasts their bagels upon request.
Drip has two types of bagels delivered from International Gourmet, cinnamon raisin and Tuscan herb. The latter, which might sound similar to Carolina Cafe’s sun-dried tomato, definitely has a personality of its own. Drip’s bagels are small and thus well-suited for a snack. Closing your eyes and biting into this bagel is like being transported to Italy. Italian seasoning isn’t just for entrées. Made up of oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and rosemary, this bagel is the essence of Italian. While in the same vein as pizza-flavored snacks, this bagel is definitely an upgrade. You can choose to pair it with Drip’s standard cream cheese, but the Tuscan herb bagel has enough personality to hold it’s own. These bagels are best served untoasted in order to fully experience their fluffiness.
College Grounds Cafe
Who says southwestern flavor can’t be in a bagel? Move over, breakfast burritos: There’s a new sheriff in town — College Grounds Cafe’s jalapeño bagel. Normally, I stay away from anything too spicy, but College Grounds’ jalapeño bagel isn’t overpowering. Their bagels are made in-house either every day or every other day. With pieces of jalapeño baked in, this whole wheat bagel is a perfect light lunch. Like the sun-dried tomato, these jalapeños are rather chewy, but it works. In terms of texture, College Grounds’ bagels are a happy medium between Drip’s and Carolina Cafe’s. Paired with their regular cream cheese, this bagel is like an avant-garde jalapeño popper. I recommend toasting this bagel in order to get the full, zesty effect.