While many debates have occurred throughout the GrubHub office over the years, none has been quite as heated, as controversial, or as spirited as the discussion surrounding the common bagel. This is because most mornings here, bagels are the gas to our go. They are the sustenance to get us through the day or at least to the lunch hour.
Simply put, we eat a lot of bagels. So it comes as no surprise that the question of where to find the best bagel in Chicagoland surfaced. And thus began my pursuit to find truth and justice about this all-American mainstay.
Back in 1995, I first became acquainted with the craft of bagel making by working in a bagel shop in Detroit, MI. “Bagels are boiled?” I asked on my first day at the new job. John, the head bagel maker, showed me the process from start to finish: the making of the dough, allowing it to rest, boiling it, and, finally, baking it – the culmination of a day’s worth of work.
Regulars would joke that we piped in water from New York. I laughed and said “you bet…” without knowing what the hell they were talking about. Years later, when my bagel knowledge matured passed novice, I learned that most people believe that New York has the best bagels in the world, and that some believe the water they are boiled in is the secret. But, while my H & H everything bagel was amazing, chemistry would point to other factors outside the New York water supply.
My pursuit for the best Chicago area bagel ended a few weeks ago. On July 28th, an assembled team of GrubHub bagel connoisseurs put it to a blind taste test. The GrubHub panel brought in plain bagels from select bagel establishments. A regulation testing size was determined and off to the tasting tables we went.
We kept the contestants clean and untoasted, preventing external factors from impacting the panelist’s pallets.
So who came out on top? The favorite came from New York Bagel and Bialys in Skokie, IL.
While I am sure the debate is far from over, with new untested candidates already being tossed into the ring, we can all rest a little easier here at the office, content in the knowledge that not far away lies the perfect combination of outer bagel toughness and delicious inner consistency.