Bagel got back

The Daily Bagel owners Shanel and Shane Ritter are devoted to bagels.

The Daily Bagel owners Shanel and Shane Ritter are devoted to bagels.

Photo/Allison Young

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I don’t remember if it was my first bagel, but I do recall the one that hooked me for life as a young kid. San Francisco, mid ’70s. Dark-as-midnight pumpernickel bagel with cream cheese from a kosher bakery, eaten at the beach while listening to barking marine mammals on the rocks near Cliff House. Devotees argue endlessly on what makes a “true” bagel, but most agree an unsugared bread doughnut from your average supermarket ain’t it.

The discussion on what should or shouldn’t go into a bagel is similarly contentious, but as long as the dough has been properly proofed, then briefly boiled before baking, I’m happy. You can detect this detail by looking at the cross-section. The boil creates a visible “skin” that is tougher and chewier than the dense, bready interior. The presence of this telltale sign indicates The Daily Bagel is doing something right, and the good news doesn’t end there.

As with many bagel shops there are various flavors of cream cheese mixed in-house, and a variety of both savory and sweet bagels. I’m afraid I can’t report on cheese blends and fruity items because my trio of diners had a mind toward sharing a few sandwiches. Though the place has been open for a decade, it was recently purchased by a woman who said—while taking my order—she preferred cooking shows to cartoons as a child. My kinda gal.

On the owner’s recommendation, I ordered the Number 1 breakfast sandwich on a tomato basil cheddar bagel with fried egg, ham and American cheese ($4.95), as well as a Number 4 breakfast sandwich on a bacon cheddar bagel with fried egg, tomato, avocado and Swiss cheese ($5.25). The first thing I noticed was a decent ratio of filling-to-bread. It had a great balance of flavors, plenty of food and a good deal for the price. The bacon bagel had big chunks of meat baked right in, yet the overall effect was subtle. Can bacon be subtle?

As evidenced by the name on the door, there’s a newspaper theme at work here. From the hot lunch menu, I ordered a Headline melt on an onion Parmesan bagel with roast beef, turkey, tomato and Swiss cheese ($6.95). This may have been the favorite among us, probably due to a the contrast of black pepper seasoning with the sweet onion. The Black and White melt on a sesame bagel with turkey, Swiss cheese, tomato and sliced avocado was also enhanced with black pepper, a touch I really liked ($6.95). Completing our sandwich order was the Dear Abby on an onion Parmesan bagel with lettuce, tomato, onion, sprouts, cucumber, avocado and cream cheese ($6.50). Sadly, this was our least favorite item. We all like our veggies, but this sandwich was pretty bland and underwhelming. It probably would have been better if I’d ordered it with hummus instead of cream cheese.

The menu includes breakfast burritos, scrambles and plenty of other stuff I didn’t have room for on a single visit. However, I had to try a cup of the day’s soup, made with spicy pork sausage, potato, tomato, onion, garlic, spinach, chicken broth, a little cream and seasonings ($3.95). For my taste, it’s rare to find a good sausage-based soup, but this one met the challenge. I had a taste with the sandwiches and then enjoyed the rest reheated with dinner. Though the sliced-rather-than-diced spuds seemed a tad odd for soup, I’m not complaining. Hearty housemade soup wins me over every time.

The room is cute in both decor and size (seating for perhaps 16), and there’s a large menu of smoothies and coffee drinks available. Even with a largish order I didn’t have to wait more than 15-20 minutes. If you’re like me and limiting carbs due to diet, this is an excellent option for your “cheat day.”