Yes, I'm a bagel snob, but can you blame me? I'm originally from New York and I'm Jewish so, when it comes to bagels, I expect only the best. Even after I moved to Boston, I still set high standards for my favorite form of carbohydrates.

I expect them boiled, not baked. I expect them toasted to a golden, crispy perfection, not too burnt and not too chewy. I expect them with a hefty schmear of cream cheese. Sometimes, I'll settle for an egg and cheese or some avocado but NEVER nutella or peanut butter. Why fix something that isn't broken?

As much as I love Wash U, and I've been pleasantly surprised by the great cuisine St. Louis has to offer, I've also learned that STL struggles when it comes to the art of the bagel. In fact, this has probably been one of the toughest adjustments in my college transition. Determined to find the best of these not-so-great bagels, I set out in hot pursuit, ready to carb-o-load. 

I knew this wasn't going to be an easy battle when I searched online for the best bagels in St. Louis and Yelp reviews referred me to St. Louis Bread Co. aka Panera Bread. I'm sorry, but Panera has terrible bagels (no matter whether it's called Panera or not). This fallacy only fueled my fire.

1. Meshuggah Cafe

Ariela Basson

The first bagel joint I hit was Meshuggah Cafe on the Loop. I ordered a sesame bagel with butter and avocado. I was rather excited for this meal, especially in light of the great avocado crop shortage taking its toll on Wash U's campus. Sadly, this bagel was subpar. The first cardinal sin was, of course, that it was baked and not boiled. Next, the bagel was overly toasted and a little too dry, and the small amount of butter and avocado did not help. At least it looked pretty?

2. Kayaks

sandwich, cheese, bagel
Ariela Basson

Next, I hit up Kayaks, a coffee shop that doubles as a café and popular Wash U student hangout. As a Sam Fox student, it's always convenient for me to run over to Kayaks when I want to treat myself after a long day in studio. But this time, I was going specifically for the bagels.

This one really breaks my heart because I do love Kayaks...but their bagels were also subpar. They were once again baked and not boiled, which I was beginning to sense was unfortunately an ongoing trend in the St. Louis bagel scene. I opted for egg and cheese on my bagel, so that made the experience a little better, but I still wasn't satisfied. I guess Kayak's bagels are a flaw I'm just going to have to overlook in order to keep up our committed relationship. 

The weird thing was, these bagels looked strangely familiar. I knew I'd seen them before, but I just couldn't remember where. Was I experiencing short term memory loss? Déjà vu? I told myself that I was just being crazy. 

3. BD Brunch (Wash U)

bagel, bun, rye, flour, cereal, wheat, bread
Ariela Basson

The next day, I decided to test the bagels at brunch in Bear's Den, the bagels I'd seen many times before but had tried my hardest to avoid (knowing that I would likely be disappointed). But now, it was time for me to confront them, once and for all. As I approached the baskets of bagels, I got that same déjà vu feeling again, and that's when it hit me: these were the same bagels as the bagels at Kayaks! 

The resemblance was striking. I decided it was time to get down to the culprit of this bagel monopoly. I asked both workers at BD and Kayaks where they get their bagels from, and the answer was a place called Companion Bakery

I decided to share my discovery with a few other Wash U students, but apparently it was not as novel as I thought: it's been a somewhat known fact around campus, and I've just been slow to the game. But I still couldn't help but wonder if this was my first of many shots at investigative journalism. I really did enjoy the thrill I got from uncovering what I thought to be an unknown truth.

And if you were wondering which bagel was the best of the worst? I'd say Companion has it in the bag compared to the bagels at Meshuggah and St. Louis Bread Co. (Panera). Even so, they're all still a far ways from my high bagel standards.