Lox, or brined salmon, takes an ordinary bagel with cream cheese and turns it into a savory and hearty meal. Then add capers, onions, and tomatoes and call it a day. This deli staple is available at many Valley restaurants, but we wanted the best of the best, so we visited two of the most popular bagel spots, The Bagel Man and Lox Stock & Bagel, to see which one serves the most delicious slice of salmon.
In This Corner: The Bagel Man
The Setting: The Bagel Man in Ahwatukee is a small but incredibly popular establishment. Be prepared to compete with fellow patrons to place your order first. Also be prepared for kind and friendly service. Regulars are greeted with a loud acknowledgement and rarely need to even verbalize their order, as the staff starts on it immediately. But be warned: If you want to sit inside, arrive early. Regardless of day or time, this place is packed. There is limited seating outside, so to-go orders aren't the worst idea. Bagels are served on paper plates, which only manages to add to the homey, relaxed charm of this spot.
The Good: You definitely get your money’s worth here. It all begins with the fresh bagel — we went with garlic — and then come layers of cream cheese, giant tomatoes, crisp onions, and capers. Each ingredient tastes fresh, and looks it as well. As messy as this breakfast is, it's also filling and satisfying. If you order a cup of coffee, the owner may tell you excitedly how beautiful the roast is and that it’s much better than Starbucks coffee. Spoiler alert: It is. A bagel with lox and the works, plus a cup o’ joe will run you about $9.
The Bad: The tomato provided on this lox stack was beautiful; it was thickly sliced and tasted incredibly fresh. The only problem: Two giant slices easily overpower the taste of the lox. The heaviness of the doughy bagels has a similar effect, essentially blocking a lot of the potential flavor.
In This Corner: Lox Stock and Bagel
The Setting: Like so many local breakfast spots, regulars flock to Lox Stock & Bagel en masse each morning to catch up as though it’d been more than a week since seeing each other. The deli-style ordering system keeps things moving quickly and gives customers an up-close view of the hearty carbs they're about to enjoy. There is plenty of seating, though on weekends the brunch crowd can take over.
The Good: Like The Bagel Man, Lox follows the standard recipe for a morning lox. We started with the sun dried tomato bagel, which added a sweet and savory base to the salty lox. The rest of “The Works,” as it's called, comes on the side and includes onion, tomatoes, olives, and a pickle. We like our meals big, and this spot does not disappoint. Customers have the option of fruit cocktail, veggie pasta, potato salad or coleslaw as a side salad with their lox-piled bagel. As for the coffee, we recommend pairing your meal with the Jazzy Java. It’s nutty, and the subtle flavor goes well with lox.
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The Bad: No capers. This may seem trivial, but those salty little flavor explosions taste best when scattered on top of lox , and we were disappointed to miss the opportunity to taste them. Plus, the works isn’t cheap. The bagel plus a coffee comes out to about $12.
The Winner: The Bagel Man wins this round. The best bagel and lox must have, well, the best lox and The Bagel Man’s cuts are thick, fresh, and manage to hold up with the ample amount of competing tastes. It’s perfect combination of ingredients enhances the luxurious lox.
Editor's Note: This post has been changed from its original version.