The Collegian
Sunday, January 29, 2023

Richmond Reviews: The battle for the best bagel

Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian.   

Richmond may be far from the Northeast, but nevertheless, there is a strong bagel scene in RVA; a rivalry even exists for the title of best bagel in Richmond. To determine this winner, I tried a toasted everything bagel with scallion cream cheese and capers at Chewy’s Bagels, Nate’s Bagels and Cupertino’s NY Bagels to ensure that the competition was fair. 

The factors to determine the superior bagel were: taste, texture, composition and price. 

Nate’s Bagels 

The first bagel I tried was from Nate’s, a classic Richmond bagel cafe. Founded in 2016 as a farmers market stand, Nate’s Bagels has become a Richmond classic. Located near the Virginia Commonwealth University campus, Nate’s has a great location and is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the weekends. During the pandemic, Nate’s storefront was closed and all orders were placed online for pick-up; however, they recently reopened dining in to the public this fall. 

As for the bagels, they are all made through a process of fermentation, kettle boiling and oven baking. This results in a fluffy, lighter bagel with a crunchy crust. Traditionally, bagels are kettle boiled and not made from fermented dough, which differentiates Nate’s from the other contenders. Their menu is extensive and a build-your-own-bagel starts at $1.50, making it a great deal. They use a lighter cream cheese, and are generous in their toppings, adding value and flavor to the bagel. Overall, Nate’s is a must-visit bagel shop.

Cupertino’s NY Bagels 

They opened in 2007 and pride themselves on being a traditional New York-style bagel joint. Their bagels are hand rolled and kettle boiled, but not fermented. As for their cream cheese, it is not made in-house, and has a much denser texture than that of Nate’s or Chewy’s. Their bagels also have a sweeter flavor to the dough, which I personally was not a fan of. Their cream cheese was incredibly dense and almost a copy of the Philadelphia brand cream cheese. Although the bagel was not exceptional in my opinion, it was still a good bagel shop run by a great family. Cupertino’s is a family owned deli that, before relocating to Richmond, was a successful bakery for 50 years in New York City. 

Chewy’s Bagels

Finally, I tried my bagel order at Chewy’s brick-and mortar-location. It is important to note the difference between the Chewy’s wholesale bagels resold at Passport Cafe, 8:15 at Boatwright and Everything Convenience here on campus and the bagels prepared to order at Chewy’s because of the freshness of the bagel. Chewy’s prides itself on its sourdough bagels, which allow for a crunchier crust and a slight tang to the taste of the dough. This was, in my opinion, the second best bagel, however, it is the best unconventional bagel by far. The outside of the crust was crunchy and the amount of seasoning made a huge difference. However, the fact that they are sourdough bagels and not traditional bagels alters their placement in my ranking. The sourdough flavor is successful in some bagel types (like sesame, everything, or poppy seed), but less so in sweet bagels like cinnamon raisin or blueberry. 

Through a thorough sampling, I believe the title of best bagel in Richmond goes to Nate’s Bagels because of the overall amount of bagel options, quality of the bagel and price. The bagel itself is softer on the outside than Chewy’s, but less sweet and dense than Cupertino’s. While each offered a pleasant experience for a pretty consistent price, it’s clear that Nate’s Bagels are superior. 

Contact lifestyle writer Malena LoPrete at Malena LoPrete at malena.loprete@richmond.edu.

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