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BB's bagels

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You don't have to be a New York transplant to bemoan the absence of good bagels in Atlanta. Too leaden. Too soft. Too bland. Settle or go wanting. If you're up for a bit of a drive, make the pilgrimage to BB's Bagels and Diner (770 McFarland Parkway, 770-475-1818, www.bitchinbagelsatbbs.com) in Alpharetta. The trips have become a regular weekend activity for me - there are simply no bagels inside the perimeter that compare to BB's.

Owners Eddie and Anna Siino run the small diner and bagel shop that has become a favorite amongst in-the-know bagel fiends. Eddie got his start as a baker 30 years ago, and the man knows his bagels. The Siinos, along with a gaggle of friends and family from the New York area, churn out bagels bound to impress even the most jaded aficionados. The bagels are made using an old classic recipe, hand-rolled and kettle-boiled every morning for that quintessential New York shine. The kettle boiling also yields the requisite chewiness no decent bagel is without.

Each bagel is about 5 inches in diameter and incredibly fat. All of the classics - salt, garlic, everything, egg and pumpernickel - fill BB's with an intoxicating smell. Some rather unorthodox choices - such as chocolate chip studded and French toast - will delight the kiddies. The true testament to these bagels is that you don't need to toast them to make them edible; they're good straight out of the bag. Of course, no bagel is complete without a schmear of freshly whipped cream cheese. BB's has a huge assortment, including some versions mixed with crushed-up candy bars. Smoked fish and other accoutrements round out the to-go breakfast choices so you can do it up right at home.

The diner's menu merits exploration, as there are tons of tried and true New Yorker breakfast dishes beyond the smoked fish sampler platter. Hefty portions of French toast, pancakes, bagel-centric breakfasts, and a treasure trove of oversized New York sweet things are among the offerings. Just make sure you mind BB's 16 commandments (a favorite: "One Shall HAVE THICK SKIN. We Can Be Aggressive, Loud, But Always Kind Hearted. Really! If you are easily offended, theeeeennnn maybe this ain't the place for you.") or pay the price of leaving without a bagel in hand. What could be more cruel?

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