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New York Style Bagels Rock Austin

16 May 2009 3,458 views 18 Comments

Yesterday morning I talked Austin food with Andy and Bryan on KGSR’s Late Show. Those guys are so fun to chat with and it was great to go back for my second radio interview. A couple weeks ago, I brought miracle berries so they could experience a food trip. Next Friday, I’ll be on again at 8:30 a.m. CT, talking about all of these new burger joints around town.

In between segments, they told me about professional drummer Joe Humel, and the New York-style bagels he sells through his company, Rockstar Bagels. That same day, my friend Ilyse told me that her colleague and friend Josh was going to be picking up a dozen bagels at 12:30 a.m. from Joe’s commercial kitchen on W. 4th Street. She passed on his phone number and e-mail address so I could get in touch.

joebagelsMy curiosity piqued, I e-mailed Joe directly to find out the deal. At quarter to 11 last night, I received this note back:

Thanks for contacting me. and thank Andy for talking about [the bagels]. i have been meaning to do another drop off to them early morning boys.. they’re great. i’m a total fan.

yea Josh will be by tonight, i try to tell people that there is no better feeling than eating a bagel fresh out of the oven, its the only thing i wish i could change about wholesale. but thats why i offer up my space for people to come and pick up here if they like. you let me know what night you want to come by and what you would like in your dozen and i will have it for you. 12:30 [that's am!] is always a good time.

if you can try to give me 48 hours advance, although we will have extras this weekend. i try to make them as per order so i dont create any waste. and the bagels need about 24 hours to ferment.
i look forward to meeting you, email or call anytime.

Joe Humel
Rockstar Bagels Inc.

I took him up on his offer and called him immediately, asking if he had two dozen bagels to spare. He did. We ordered one dozen E.T. (everything bagels) and one dozen of the rest. Right now, Joe offers plain bagels topped with salt/rosemary, poppy, sesame, garlic, onion/chive, everything, or just plain. The photo below of Rockstar Bagel trays is borrowed from Indie Sounds, a blog about New York and Austin music.

bagelsWe arrived at his commercial kitchen off a small street near 6th and Lamar at 1:45 a.m. this morning and Joe greeted us outside. His had a pretty bad cut on his upper lip that was a result of trying to fix a broken mixer. We stayed to chat with him until about 2:15 a.m.

Joe started selling his Rockstar Bagels in March, the result of a local coffee shop offering to sell his homemade bagels if he found a commercial space to make them. During SXSW he played in eight day shows while continuing to work on making bagels 85-90 hours a week.

Joe has played with Danni Leigh, Kacy Crowley, and Charlie Faye (all women with unisex names interestingly). He grew up in Queens, NY and told us his inspiration is Pick a Bagel and David’s Bagels (recently closed). Joe’s goal is to provide real, New York-style bagels that have been made with high gluten flour, left to ferment for 24 hours, and boiled before baking. He makes 180-280 bagels a day and estimates he can handle up to 420 daily with his assistant in his current space.

Right now, Joe delivers to local businesses around town and arranges for friends and acquaintances to pick up a dozen or so at wholesale prices at the kitchen. We paid $12/dozen but the bagels are sold around town at prices that range from $1.25 to about $2.50 per. You can pick them up daily at Quacks, Cafe Mundi, Summer Moon, Garden District, Little City, Mozarts, Pacha, Spiderhouse, Blue Dahlia, and Cherrywood. He’ll begin deliveries to Wheatsville and Royal Blue Grocery next week and hopes to add Clementine and Thunderbird to the list soon. UPDATE: They are also available at Treat in the South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery from Thursday through Sunday each week.

Austin has been hungry, both literally and figuratively for real New York bagels as long as I’ve lived here. Many friends from Houston pick up dozens of bagels at the Bagel Shop to bring home with them and many visitors to New York head straight to Ess-A-Bagel, H&H, or Murray’s Bagels. With Rockstar Bagels, they may be able to satisfy their craving a lot closer to home.

Adam and I split an E.T. bagel in the car on the way home. Loved the crunch on the outside, chew on the inside. Seemed pretty authentic to this former NY girl!

Update (5/27/09):
I’ll be noshing on bagels with Joe and the KGSR Late Show guys tomorrow (Thursday, May 28) at 8:30 a.m. Listen live at http://www.kgsr.com!

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  • Josh Kerr

    I’m from NY, lived on Long Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan. I can tell you that in all of my time in Austin (about 10 years) I’ve never seen a bagel that comes close to a NY bagel. I suspect its the NY water that makes them so good and since boiling bagels is key, I just accept the fact that I have to go to NY for a decent bagel. Either your article is complete blasphemy and I’m bummed, OR, I’m setting up a new business so that I can qualify for Rockstar Bagels business delivery service.

  • rebeccammendations.com

    Great post, and I can’t wait to look for these at local biz’s around town! Also, since you mentioned talking about burger joints around town this coming Friday on KGSR, have you heard of Hat Creek? (the trailor behind Star Bar on W. 6th) I don’t eat red meat, but heard that they are the best all natural burgers around. Maybe worth checking out if you haven’t already…though you’re always in the know with the eats around ATX!

  • Kerri

    Ooh, I want to try these! I once wrote an article for a local magazine titled “The Bagel Hole,” lamenting Austin’s lack of good bagels. Glad to hear this may be changing!

  • Jeffrey Bart

    I’m not sure who does your fact checking but they may need a minor beating. David’s Bagel’s on 1st between 13th and 14th closed last year (it used to be my bagel spot) but the one on 1st between 19th and 20th is still rocking. At first I didn’t think that they were owned by the same people, but when the one by me closed the cashier from there popped up at the sister store. Personally this is my favorite bagel in the city; throw in a little Gaspe Nova from Russ and Daughter’s and you have one hell of a Sunday morning for ya.

  • Jodi

    Thank you for the correction, Jeffrey Bart. YOU’RE HIRED as my new fact checker. The pay sucks but you get lots of hugs and positive reinforcement for corrections. Yay!

  • Boots in the Oven

    Ooh, seriously? NY style bagels in town? We’ll have to give these a try. I always choke back a little sob when I walk by the bagel shelves at Central Market… now those are a travesty.

  • double tonic

    It really is all about the water, or so people who know more than I do seem to claim. But these sound worth a try.

    My dad lived in NY for 15+ years, and he’s coming to visit next weekend. Your timing on this tip is perfect, so thank you!

    Your biggest fan.

  • Jeremy

    I was really skeptical about NY bagels until I tried one in NYC last summer. Best bagel ever. I may have to stop by Treat tomorrow morning and try one out.

  • huebscher

    we will mos def be checking these out. einstein bros is even a shame to its west coast counterpart, Noah's (found where non-threatening caricature of eastern europeans is not required). austin has been a very sad bagel-free zone indeed.

    …btw, does Jeffrey Bart have a Russ & Daughters source in town???

  • Jodi

    Thanks for the comments, guys. Jeffrey Bart lives in NYC so I believe he picks up Russ & Daughters there but I'm sure he would fed-ex you some (for a fee).

    Joe Humel will be joining us on the KGSR 107.1 Late Show this Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. So excited to enjoy more of his tasty wares then!

  • Lisa

    Is there any place that sells Rock Star Bagels in SW Austin?

  • PookieSoup

    I just have to say that reading your blog makes misohungry, now. Like RIGHT NOW!

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