Have you ever bitten into a fresh bagel?
If you've lived in Tucson your whole life, it's possible you haven't. Some bagel chains bake frozen par-baked bagels — you'd be hard-pressed to find any baker's yeast on site.
However, walk into the Bagel Joint at 7315 N. Oracle Rd. and chances are you'll see owner and Bostonian Michael Rudner in plain view forming fresh bagels.
"If the 'open sign' is on, then I'm here," Rudner said.
Since the Bagel Joint opened in May 2015, Rudner has been the one wakin' and bakin' (it's on his shirt). As bagels deplete through the day, he bakes more to maintain a warm, fresh supply.
Speaking of quirky catch phrases, the Bagel Joint's menu also states "if it ain't boiled... it ain't a bagel." Rudner makes bagels mostly the old-fashioned way — in a boiling vat that uses brown sugar.
"I don't use any lye in the boiling process," Rudner said. "All it really does is make the bagels more brown. I know it's harmless in small amounts, but I don't see the need to add it if it's not good for you in larger amounts."
As a result, the bagels are more of a blonde rather than pretzel-brown. However, they still feature a proper ratio of chew and lightness with a crisp exterior.
While the bagels are prepared through the day, guests can call in 30-45 minutes ahead for a dozen from the oven ($11).
You're in luck: a dozen is actually what Rudner calls a Boston Dozen, which has 14 bagels instead of an actual dozen (12) or a baker's dozen (13).
Other custom orders require a day advance notice. Items include mini-bagels and colored bagels — such as red and blue bagels for University of Arizona graduation parties.
The menu features bagels with the usual sides (assorted cream cheeses, jelly, butter), Nova lox, salads, and bagel sandwiches.
While the sandwiches feature a wide assortment of ingredients such as Genoa salami and sautéed onions, a bagel with butter or with cream cheese, tomato, and lox is the best way to enjoy the Bagel Joint for the first time. Save the fun sandwiches for a future visit.
For a hefty protein-heavy breakfast, order the Arizona Strong Man ($6). The combination of eggs, bacon, sausage, and cheese will keep your belly full for hours.
The Biggie ($6) isn't a reference to its size, however. Rather, it's an homage to "a T-bone steak, cheese eggs and Welch's grape" from Big Poppa by the Notorious B.I.G. — though there's no steak or grape juice. It features an egg, roast beef, bacon, and "cheddah."
Regardless of how you order your bagel, you'll grow attached to the small and friendly team.
"It's about the genuine connections," Rudner said. "People come here regularly and we really get to know each other, there's no fake waves around here."
The Bagel Joint is located at 7315 N. Oracle Rd. Ste. 105. It's open from 6:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Tuesday - Friday and from 7 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Keep up with The Bagel Joint on Facebook.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he is best known locally for his work for Tucson Foodie, his work has also appeared in publications such as Bon...