Bagelworks, Boca Raton

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Comfort of comforts–the white fluorescent lights, the angry senior citizens shoving in line–is there a taste more sweet than the taste of a Bagelworks bagel, shmeared with lox spread and whitefish salad, topped with sliced tomato and onion and washed down with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice? Welcome to Bagelworks in Boca Raton, the locus of my happiest eating from ages 11 to 18: from middle school through high school, with several visits between college and now. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I asked mom to take me here before going to my dad the dentist for a cleaning. The past flooded into the present as I entered that sacred space: a space that knew me as a gawky teenager, a first time driver, a failed candidate for student council president. There among my people–New York Jews transplanted to Florida–I eat the way I was meant to eat: with my hands, unafraid of bad breath, wiping cream cheese off my lips with a napkin and eyeing the waitress to refill my water. When I’m at Bagelworks, I’m at home

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Grandma used to meet me here before getting her hair done. Pat her hairdresser, who, you may be impressed to know, also does Connie Francis’s hair (“Who’s Connie Francis?” “Exactly”) used to work at the other end of the shopping center. He’s since relocated and the storefronts have changed–the high-end grocery store now sells flowers; the glasses store is now a real estate office–but Bagelworks is still there. The line is often out the door and you

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