Bagelworks, Boca Raton

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


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

32 thoughts on “Bagelworks, Boca Raton”

  1. Really? There are good bagels in Florida? The bread is so bad there I can’t bring myself to order a bagel. or pizza :)

  2. Now you’ve done it – I have to stop for a bagel on the way to work – I’m sure it won’t be as good as Bagelworks but your story made my mouth water…


  3. Mmmmm lox and bagels. It truly is my ultimate comfort food. And you made it sound so good that I may have to get up from my desk, leave work and drive to the nearest deli. :)

  4. Adam,

    Thank you. That brings me back to all of my wonderful trips to visit my grandparents growing up. Not that they aren’t around, they are. But this is nostalgia for me. Warm feelings. Wonderful.

  5. Adam,

    Just wondering if you have ever ventured over to Nestor’s by the old Boca Bank pyramid. There isn’t a trip to Boca that goes by without hitting up what I consider to be the best Boca Bagel shop in town. Of course that shopping center also includes such Boca staples like Khaki’s and the ever revolving Chinese Restaurant.

    PS: When is the Mario’s write-up coming??

  6. This made me snort-laugh coffee up my nose. Especially the little bit: “The decor can only be described as “Florida Jewish.” By that I mean, it’s like a New York deli by way of the Golden Girls.” Awesome. Thanks for making my day & giving me a mad bagel craving. Does anyone know of any decent bagel shops in Chicago?

  7. I have lived in DC for the past 20 years and prior to that in PA and my absolute favorite breakfast,since I was a child, is toasted bagel with lox, cream cheese, red onion, capers and tomato. I even used to order that at a bagel shop at Penn State before big tests in college. I guess I picked up the love of it from my mother who grew up in Brooklyn in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood and was transplanted to PA! (We are not Jewish…not that it matters) I just had that exact breakfast this morning and savored every bite! It is my comfort food!

  8. Adam – At least you have H&H Bagels to quell your homesickness. We can’t even get bagels like that here in California. We have to make due with burritos for our comfort food.

  9. Hey, I’m going there in a couple of weeks. Some of my family lives in Boca – I’ve been there once a year or so for a decade or more.

  10. Gwen, I’m from Brooklyn originally but have been in Chicago for three years now. I have yet to find a bagel at least on par with a bagel from any random bagel store in New York. Even the ones that are supposed to be good, like those at Ashkenaz, just don’t quite get it. It’s in the water, I’m convinced.

  11. Nice post– your true affection for the place really shows! Like you I live in NYC where we have no shortage of good bagels, and while I try not to eat too many during the week, they are a favorite weekend indulgence.

    PS. I know EXACTLY who Connie Francis is!

  12. I miss bagles! The bagels on the West coast are INTENTIONALLY bad. They did research and found that people in the West wanted what amounts to flabby white bread with a hole in the middle, which is what you get here, no matter what “New York Style” brand you buy. There are two solutions for East coast transplants in the West–mail order bagels from the East, or make them yourself. It may be pink and turquoise, but at least it sells real bagels. *sniff*

  13. Exactly one minute before I read your post, I put a letter to Connie Francis in the outgoing mailbox for the place where I work. Freaky!! And I know exactly what you mean about Boca and being an “indoor” kind of guy–I grew up in West Palm and while it’s very pretty and the beach is nice occasionally, that’s about all it has to offer for me.

  14. I know who Connie Francis is.

    And I think you mean you shuddered when you tasted the Tropicana. Young man.

  15. I think it is great to revisit childhood favorites and still find their appeal. I have many youthful bagel memories one of which involved going to the local bagel shop on my way to Hebrew School, and buying a warm onion bagel, straight out of the oven. I spent every Hebrew class just nibbling on a bagel to stave off the boredom. Now I don’t eat bagels often enough..way too fattening but Izzy really likes them!

  16. Awesome post AG, but please make note, this little bit aint true:

    “…those who experience a trauma endlessly relive the trauma for the rest of their lives.”

    I know you weren’t probably weren’t too serious about that note, but it is worth noting that it is never too late to live a happy childhood.

    Peace and here’s to 2008!

  17. All well and good, but you ate that before going to the dentist?!? Good thing it’s your dad and he has to forgive you for your bad breath!

  18. Nan-

    I get bagels from the Bagel Bin in Columbia, MD. Not sure what is good in DC but is a good search tool for all things food related.


  19. Yes Bob, that is where Bagelworks in located. It is in the same shopping center as Office Depot and Party City, right behind Burger King.

  20. So funny. I grew up in Oceanside and my parents live in Boca now. Stuff n’ Bagels was the Best! I have never had another bagel like those ever. Huge bagel over stuffed with cream cheese, so good. The line at Bagelworks is so long sometimes that I just get it to go and eat in the car on the way to Town Center Mall. Did your parents ever take you to Gibby’s for the lobster special? You would have been the youngest person there too!

  21. Oh my goodness, as soon as I saw that photo, it brought back such memories…. I spent the summer of 2000 working in that strip shopping center in one of the offices on the second floor working for a former state representative. The Bagelworks was one of the few highlights of the location, accentuated by the fact that I didn’t have a car and was at the mercy of very few lunch options. I believe there was a Burger King and maybe a Dunkin Donuts in that shopping center aas well? I could go for a nice egg white omelet right now!

  22. Ah yes… lox and bagels. I live in Florida and know that the bagels are just mediocre unless you venture out of all the chain places. But plaecs like Bagelworks… a true gem. The first post I’ve ever read by Adam. Nice blog thing.

  23. Hi Jill,

    Adam and I did go to Gibby’s a bunch of times growing up. They had one of my favorite salad dressings there. I believe it was a creamy garlic dressing. Whenever we went there with my grandpa (my dad’s dad), he used to always say, “they have a nice piece of fish.” I still use that line sometimes. Thanks for the memories.

  24. Wait a minute. You’re from Boca? Me, too! Personally, I was more of Nestor’s man, but I have nothing against Bagelworks. If you were on your way to the dentist, was it Dr. Seltzer by any chance? He’s in that neighborhood and he was mine.

    Come to think of it, your name rings a bell for me and I’m wondering if we knew each other back in BR. I went to Saint Andrews, my mom teaches at Boca High, and I went to B’Nai Israel on Yamato. Figured the Jewish geography was worth a shot here.

    Thanks for immortalizing the elderly inspired, New York-ish early bird special cuisine of Boca. I don’t think anyone’s done that before.

  25. How can you not know who Connie Francis is! She is just one of the biggest selling vocalists of all time! A great superstar and legend.

  26. Adam –

    Reading this article makes me crave Bagelworks. I grew up in Boca and everytime I go home to visit my family, my mom knows that there must be Bagelworks tuna salad waiting in the fridge. So anyone who goes there next should definitely try the tuna and you will be coming back for more!


  27. When I go down to Boca Raton to visit the retired Jewish relatives, Bagel Tree is the bagel establisment of choice. The senior citizens of Century Village (if you’re familiar with Boca Raton’s older Jewish population, you probably know Century Village) rave on and on about how Bagel Tree has the best bagels around. I would have to disagree after my last visit there where I got an everything bagel. Rather than everything, the bagel hardly had any seeds/toppings on it. It reminded me of a Panera Bread bagel. The home fries that Bagel Tree served were really good, and they made up for the lack of toppings on the bagel. Here’s my review of my most recent meal from Bagel Tree…

    Next time I’m down there I’ll need to suggest Bagelworks, but I have a feeling that it will need to be a place I try on my own, because why try something new when there is Bagel Tree???

  28. OMG! Great article and 100% true. I’ve not lived in So Fla for 14 years but everytime I go, my drive back always has a pit stop off of the turnpike. One SCOOPED ET bagel with Tuna salad and if they are hot out of the oven 2 plain bagels to go! Y.U.M.M.Y

    They make the bagels in the back on site…there is nothing like a fresh bagel just out of the oven. I live in Tallahassee, FL where the bagel shops don’t even have one Jew in there (except for when I walk in) there’s no deli, no screaming old women pushing you aside….I think somehow it makes the bagels taste even more processed and stale.

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