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Bagel finagle

Tracking a dying breed


It ain't easy finding a decent bagel in this city. Mom and pop bagel shops are dropping like Yankees in Southern heat. I came across at least five stores -- including Sonny's on Ponce in Decatur, Atlanta Bagel Co. in Sandy Springs and Chesapeake Bagel and Bakery in Marietta -- that have recently called it quits. Colleagues and friends are still grumbling about the closing of Highland Bagel Co.

Take heart -- there are survivors among us. The following five shops are still hard at work, turning out bagels with superior texture and flavor. May they each live long, profitable lives.

Bagel Break This is the kind of deli where you want to bring your newspaper and relax on a weekend morning. The bagels are thick and chewy, the kind that inspire you to rip rough chunks off to pop in your mouth. If you're in the mood for something sweet, try a fragel -- a donuty, deep-fried bagel. For a savory treat, have the poppy seed-egg bagel with olive cream cheese. 6333 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, 404-255-6055.

Bagel Palace Deli and Bakery I walk in here and feel like I'm below 14th Street in NYC. Not only are the bagels crispy and chewy (particularly high kudos go to the salt and egg varieties), but the cream cheese (caloric content? don't go there!) is thick and full of flavor. When was the last time you had blueberry-flavored cream cheese that actually tasted of real berry? I'll be so bitter if this place ever folds. 2869 North Druid Hills Road, 404-315-9016.

Bagelicious There are 15 kinds of freshly made bagels here, though this is also a first-rate spot for breakfast in general. I'm partial to the everything bagel, well toasted and spread with butter, alongside a simple cheese omelet and a strong cup of coffee. 1255 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta, 770-509-9509.

Goldberg's This is the spot for displaced New Yorkers on the other side of town from Bagel Palace. Sure, you can get your bastardized strawberry and jalapeno-cheddar bagels, but a plain bagel with a simple schmear and a slice of gently smoked lox over top? I'm getting farklempt! 4383 Roswell Road, 404-256-3751.

Joli Kobe Yes, the renowned French-Japanese bakery, fresh from a year-long renovation, makes its own bagels. They're softer and not as intense as others around town, but they toast up nicely. Grab a cream-filled pastry or complexly sculpted confection while you're there. 5600 Roswell Road, 404-843-3257.

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