What is it about a round bread with a hole in the middle that makes people so opinionated? Some swear you can’t get a decent bagel outside of New York City, while others are partial to the sweeter, less-dense Montreal style. No doubt there are places in this country where good bagels of any stripe don’t exist, but thankfully, Maine is not one of them.
Rose Foods | Portland
In his 2018 piece for Bon Appetit naming Portland the 2018 Restaurant City of the Year, Andrew Knowlton called Rose Foods “the Jewish deli that’s worth its weight in legit bagels.” The accolade is one of many racked up by Chad Conley’s restaurant, which offers smoked fish, pastrami on rye, and matzo ball soup in addition to its famous bagels (pictured above).
Scratch Baking Company | South Portland
When Scratch Baking Company opened on Willard Square in 2006, the neighborhood was still up and coming. As the beloved bakery has flourished, so has the community, where locals and loyal fans still line up on weekends for what many say remain the best bagels in the state.
The Purple House | North Yarmouth
Krista Kern Desjarlais’s Montreal-style bagels are satisfyingly chewy and have a shiny crust from being boiled in honey water before they are baked in a wood-fired oven. Her menu of inventive bagel sandwiches includes the TPH: gravlax, horseradish-dill cream cheese, radish, cucumber, onion, and caper berries.
Union Bagel Company | Portland
Traditional bagels made with organic flour are the hallmark of this tiny shop on Cumberland Avenue, open since 2013. Owner Paul Farrell and his crew keep things simple, with a small daily menu of bagel sandwiches and hard-to-find bialys (a bagel cousin that is baked but not boiled and has a center filled with caramelized onions and poppy seeds) on weekends.
Forage Market | Lewiston + Portland
“Not just great bagels for Maine…great bagels for anywhere,” wrote Matthew Kronsberg in Saveur, which named the sourdough bagels from Forage Market in Lewiston among America’s best in 2016. Not long after-ward, the Portland location opened on Washington Avenue, bringing bagel sandwiches such as Hair of the Dog (two over-easy eggs, two meats, greens, tomato, and herb aioli) to an even larger audience.
158 Pickett Street Cafe | South Portland
Before there was Scratch Baking Company there was this funky little spot (then called One Fifty Ate), where Allison Reid (of the trio who opened Scratch) once turned out bagels with co-owner Josh Pitocki. Here, it’s all about what Serious Eats called “ridiculously good” bagel sandwiches such as the Capone, with an egg, prosciutto, and pesto, or the Hippie, with hummus and raw veggies.
Maple’s | Yarmouth
This coffee shop and bakery is so popular that there is a one-dozen-per-customer limit on its bagels, which fly out the door, especially on weekend mornings. A rotating menu of homemade cream cheese flavors includes seasonal favorites such as strawberry, blueberry, and ramp, and combinations like jalapeno-cheddar and bacon-scallion.