Many East Coast transplants in the Valley might argue that getting a decent bagel in Phoenix is difficult, if not impossible, to find.
Then there are others who say Hot Bagels & Deli comes pretty damn close.
Hot Bagels & Deli, the little breakfast and lunch spot with three locations -- Arrowhead, Happy Valley, and Carefree Highway -- serves up wallet-friendly sandwiches, bagels, wraps, and baked goods. The founder, originally from New Jersey, no longer owns the chain, but his East Coast recipe for bagels (hand-rolled, boiled, and baked fresh daily) remains intact -- which may be why the Arrowhead location was packed when I popped in for a visit last weekend.
Hot Bagels' bagels are big bagels -- really big bagels -- and come in 18 different flavors like cinnamon raisin (and super cinnamon raisin), jalapeño, sesame, and Asiago. Keep 'em plain, add toppings like walnut raisin cream cheese, lox spread, and good ol' peanut butter and jelly, or load 'em up with a variety of Boar's Head meats and cheeses.
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My breakfast sandwich was simple yet satisfying. The garlic bagel was near perfect: wonderfully crunchy on the exterior with a dense, chewy center. The eggs and bacon were made to order and placed alongside American cheese for a substantial a.m. meal that nearly got me through lunch.
I'm certainly no East Coast bagel connoisseur, but if I find myself out that way again, I'd come back for another visit.
What say you, bagel biters? Have you tried Hot Bagels & Deli? What did you think?