By the Bagel

Greg’s Bagels
519 E Belvedere Avenue (Towson)
Read the Yelp reviews

What I ate.  Colossus bagel with cream cheese & lox. How do you say no to a bagel by that name? It’s important to know that here the bagel is not about size (which many Yelpers have a fit about) – it’s about a colossal flavor. Rather than read the laundry list of ingredients, I ask Greg the owner exactly what is on the bagel. “The goal is to use very seed there is,” he tells me. I mention the cumin that sneaks up in the end after you’ve finished a bite and he commends me on my palate. Thank you sir, – toss me another!

On lox. This place is lox heaven. The list of types of lox is truly astounding and I’m not going to lie, I don’t know a damn thing about lox. After reading the reviews I turned to Google in an effort to understand the differences. Thanks to some intrepid foodies I learned a bit about the brining process and the way the salmon is cured .. then I got hungry and left. I asked for Norwegian lox because it’s at the top of the list. Kathy, Greg’s wife asked me if I’d ever had it before – clearly my ignorance was shining – and when I said I had not, she made a kind recommendation for the Scandinavian which was better that day. She was not wrong.

Customer service for days. This place is charming. Greg and his wife keep a running commentary at the counter (Greg more so than Kathy) and even if the line is five deep, you’re drawn into the display of bagels, the brightly lettered signs, including the neon green “Cash, Checks & Rolex Watches.” I acknowledge I’m a first timer and tell Greg, “Your reputation precedes you.” His response? He points to his wife and intones, “Those five years in prison, you know ..” As he greets his customers and and conducts his business in city-style speed he is saying, “Giving it away today, folks, giving it away.”

The price. They really are giving it away. A small chai latte, $1.75. Bagel with plain cream cheese and lox: $6.75. Don’t forget this place is cash only, but there’s an ATM across the street if you need it!

Attention to detail. I’m seated comfortably at a small table nestled up against the glass case, watching the parade of souls in the front door. I can hear the pack of high school students chattering behind the counter, and customers calling out “Hi Greg!” as they come through the door. The man in question runs by my table and stops to ask what I think of my bagel choice, bending down to take a look at my progress since I left the counter (I am delicately demolishing the thing). On the way back to the register he stops and talks to a young dad and his two little ones to confirm that their bagels are perfect. Dad has a mouth full and gives him a thumbs up in satisfied silence. I concur.

Accolades & competition. A runner up for Baltimore’s Best Bagel in 2013, the winner Towson Hot Bagels is also a gem although it has the chain atmosphere and three locations (and rather creepy homepage music).

Last words. A well-run small business with affordable breakfast, a great location and a cozy atmosphere makes Greg’s the perfect spot whether you’re dining in or flying out the door with a brown paper bag. Either way, you will leave planning ahead to the next time you’re coming back.

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