There are certain gems in town that you selfishly want to keep to yourself, but at some point...people should know. While it’s definitely not a secret to locals, it’s too easy for students and new residents to miss The Bagel Bakery at 4113 NW 16th Blvd. It wouldn’t be hard in a part of town that students deem “too far” with a location nestled between a Publix and a post office. But make no mistake, The Bagel Bakery is a Gainesville treasure that the locals want to keep to themselves, and the exact type of place that I hope to shed light on.
Visit the place any day of the week, and you’ll find older Gainesville residents who have lived here for decades who come here for a pretentious-free, simple dining experience. There’s a group of women who meet to play mahjong here every week, the walls are decorated with art from local artists available for purchase, and the place is covered in a color scheme that you would mistake for the inspiration behind The Flying Biscuit across the street.
The owner, Ken Rembert has lived in Gainesville for over 40 years and opened the bakery in 2000. In addition to fresh bagels made every single morning, the location also houses Rembrandt Coffee, which Rembert owns. He directly sources all his coffee beans from a group of Indigenous Guatemalans. The beans are all roasted in house, and a variety of blends are available here for purchase by the cup or by the bag. Rembert still visits Guatemala every year to meet his coffee bean farmers and their families, donating money and proceeds from the coffee sales to them directly.
In the restaurant, there are a variety of sandwiches and wraps available in typical deli fashion, all moderately priced between $4 to $8. I would recommend trying one of the sandwiches between slices of their fresh baked sun-dried tomato foccacia bread. Customize your own sandwiches, or choose one of their own creations like the Broccoli Cheddar Melt ($7.89 - veggie cream cheese, steamed broccoli, melted cheddar, atop two slices of bagels or foccacia) or the Cocky Curry Chicken Wrap ($7.49 - housemade curry chicken salad with your choice of veggies).
But to be honest, save those for another visit, and get a bagel. Made every single morning, they’re the best bagels I’ve had in town. The New Yorkers reading this will likely scoff and have something to say about these, but they are every bit the chewy, salty, carb-packed goodness that satisfies when you bite into it. The usual varieties are all present in addition to spinach, jalapeno cheddar, sun dried tomato, and blueberry all served LIGHTLY toasted or untoasted. I can’t stress enough how so many people ruin good bagels by burning the hell out of them. I’m partial to the “Everything”. Each bagel is $1.25, a half dozen for $6.89, or a baker’s dozen for $11.99. Day old variety bags are available for $4.99 if you opt for a side of sadness. If you get there early enough to catch them coming out of the oven (they open at 6:30 AM on the weekdays and 7 AM on the weekends), they’re extra amazing. So really, go early.
Whatever you choose though, make sure you get some of their housemade cream cheese spreads to go with your selection. Whether it’s the plain, veggie, salmon, strawberry, jalapeno, chive & onion, honey walnut, or spinach & artichoke, it’s a must. I recommend the chive & onion or the honey walnut (paired with a toasted sesame bagel). A 2 ounce side will cost you $1.74, 8 ounce will be $3.39 or $3.69 depending on the flavor. Or if you’re feeling extra hungry, which I often am, get the Eggl Bagel ($4.69 - scrambled egg with choice of cheese between a bagel) or the Eggl Bagel with Meat ($5.99 - choice of sausage, turkey sausage, ham, or bacon).
The Bagel Bakery was there for me for “Bagel Fridays” at a job that I hated, and gave me something to look forward to each week. It was there for me whenever I felt famished and in need of sweet sweet carbohydrates to fuel my day. And now I’m sharing it with you. The locals are going to hate me for this, but the next time you’re craving a bagel, you know where to go. The Bagel Bakery is open from 6:30 AM to 4 PM on the weekdays and 7 AM to 4 PM on the weekends and is located at 4113 NW 16th Street.