On-the-go bagels and Moe

Kristi Rippley at Moe\'s
Photo by Susan France

Consigliere Keith reminisced about family rituals from his New York youth.

“On Sunday someone would pick up bagels and a copy of The New York Times, bring them back home, and then we wouldn’t talk to each other.”

Frankly, I was hoping for a more convivial experience when the two of us hit the Arapahoe Avenue location of Moe’s Broadway Bagels for a cold-weather lunch.

For the most part, previous forays to the three Moe’s locations scattered across town (there’s a Denver branch too) were of the grab-and-go variety. On the way to something requiring quick fueling, I’d go there early in the morning. I’d pick one out of a near overwhelming assortment of bagel types, usually eschewing sweet varieties containing such ingredients as raisins and go for something more savory, like onion. Ditto the shmears: I bypass peanut butter for more assertive spreads like whitefish or bacon and horseradish cream cheese. Minutes later, I’d hightail it out of there, bagel and hot coffee firmly in hand.

Quick service, which is about as fast as it can be for made-to-order items, is certainly one of Moe’s trademark virtues. Our experience on this visit was no different, and the counterman was kind enough to throw in my cup of coffee gratis. Within minutes, we settled in for a properly leisurely lunch.

We both decided to get one of the bagel sandwiches, which come with either a bag of chips or fruit. Drawing on his considerable Manhattan deli experience, Keith observed these wouldn’t necessarily be the most authentic sides for a bagelcentric meal, and he cited fruit salad as a more typical option. But to be frank, I rarely shy away from chips. 

I’ve been on a bit of a sauerkraut kick lately, and that was the main reason I was drawn to the $8.25 Reuben, which I opted for atop a toasted sesame seed number. My friend approved, explaining that a Reuben bagel is a standard Big Apple selection. While the corned beef wasn’t piled as high as it would be on a larger sandwich roll — I suspect there are structural limitations related to bagel surface area — it was still tasty and properly salty. The tangy creaminess of the requisite Thousand Island dressing and sour, slightly crunchy pickled cabbage made for an appetizing contrast.

Keith ordered up the $7.50 New Yorker, a textbook lox bagel. “It looks traditional,” he noted, “properly made with tomato, capers and onion.” He also enjoyed the eye-catching salmon, which possessed an ideal texture landing somewhere between silky and, for want of a better word, muscular. I thought it could use a whisper more smoke flavor, but it blended well with the unmistakable sharpness of raw red onion and briny capers.

“Moe’s is one of the closest to a New York bagel,” Keith declared while addressing the issue of local options. Reflecting on his toasted poppyseed specimen, he noted, “The crust has substance, almost a bit of crunch. And it’s chewy inside.”

While it’s been more than 20 years since I’ve enjoyed a Manhattan example, Moe’s signature creation lines up well with my memories of these doughy treats. The quality of our reasonably priced meal also helped me realize there’s more to this local institution than an on-the-run repast.

Moe’s Broadway Bagel is located at 3075 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder. Call 303-442-4427.

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