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Once upon a time, Trenton housed a very well-regarded Bagel Shop on South Broad Street, run by the entrepreneurial TC Nelson (now the proprietor of Trenton Social). Since the closing of that shop in 2003, downtown Trenton has been bagel-less. Sure, you can get bagels at one of any number of Dunkin’ Donuts franchises–but those bagel-like products are hardly paragons of this glutinous immigrant cuisine (yes, bagels are Eastern European in lineage). Those fast food “bagels” don’t count for us; so we’ve been craving real bagels for years.
But downtown businesses in Trenton are opening left and right, and we’re thrilled that the old bagel shopfront has re-opened. It is now as Trenton Bagel & Deli. The place is owned by a jovial man named Sam, who has 30 years in the bagel business and owns another shop in Clinton, NJ. He intends for his son (who we didn’t meet) to take on the Trenton shop while he tends to the Clinton establishment. He runs an extraordinarily friendly shop, and the bagels are good too.
The perfect bagels, in our opinion, should be hand-rolled and have a texture that is chewy without being too dense. The crust should have a decent sheen (a result of being boiled) and nice browning (a result of the baking that follows). The dough should be flavorful and not too sweet (the sweetness is traditionally from barley malt), with a slightly nutty taste (from a nice long fermentation). It is a great sin to see a bagel that has been steam-baked (rather than boiled and then baked), so we like to see a big kettle and a proper oven when we look at a bagel shop. Of course, the bagel is an ideal vehicle for cream cheese, butter, egg and cheese, lox, and Trenton’s own pork roll.
How does Trenton Bagel & Deli stack up? They’re pretty darn good. We ordered an “everything” bagel with butter–it was very well cooked, with a pleasant flavor, an excellent texture and nice crust. It was a very enjoyable bagel, far better than you’d get anywhere else in Trenton (or at local supermarkets). The “spinach” bagel missed the mark in a few slight ways (the flavor was somewhat less developed, the crust lacked browning, and the texture was dense)–so while it didn’t reach the heights of a bagel from a premier NYC shop, it was still a decent, and better than its Dunkin’ Donuts cousin.
We sampled a few of Trenton Bagel & Deli’s add-ons. Apparently the owners haven’t gotten the Trenton memo yet, because their menu refers to “Taylor Ham” (which is, of course, the word used in Northern Jersey for what Trentonians properly call “Pork Roll”). It was well-cooked, but somehow we couldn’t get the cloying taste of North Jersey out of our mouths–we’re sure a re-printing of the menu would fix that. The eggs were nicely made as well. We haven’t yet tried their cream cheeses (they offer plain, walnut raisin, olive, garden veggies, sundries tomato, jalapeño cheddar, lox, and scallion). You can also order salads, specialty sandwiches on a variety of breads (including sub rolls and wraps), and burgers and fries. They sell their salads, cheeses and meats deli-style (by the pound), and they also offer catering (subs, bagels, cold-cuts, and salads).
The prices are terrific. Bagels are currently $.95, or $10 for a baker’s dozen. A basic egg and cheese sandwich is $2.75. The coffee is currently free with the purchase of a sandwich, and it is very good.
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33 thoughts on “The Bagels Are Back”
)Pep’s. Steak house. Miss them
A nice clothing store for men and women
Here’s the Indian place–technically across the street from Trenton (and definitely not downtown). But VERY good. https://hiddentrenton.com/?p=116
Excellent food. A very good choice if you don’t mind a lack of decor
There’s a tasty eastern place on Lalor across from Lalor plaza Debbie! I believe Hidden Trenton did an article on them also
Indian!! I miss the not-so-great Indian restaurant that was downtown a couple of years ago.
I know it’ll never happen but I’d love love love for a Starbucks to open downtown. With café ole closed. There’s no good coffee down here. Please don’t say Dunkin donuts.
We aren’t crazy about any chains. Have you been here, though? https://hiddentrenton.com/its-8am-somewhere/
Yes I love this place. Their quesadilla are great. Everything is fresh. I’m not crazy about their coffee though.
Nice to know! Can’t wait to try it! I usually drive out to Bordentown for my bagels
Bring Cafe Ole back!
Yea I miss that place.
I pass it most mornings when I drop John Kelly off and wish I could stop for a short house blend.
We agree. In the meantime we’ve been going here: https://hiddentrenton.com/its-8am-somewhere/
Decent middle eastern – falafel, majadarah and baba ganouj please!
Lauren, have you been here?https://hiddentrenton.com/downtown-gyro/
Eye love their food, a lot
There atleast once a week
What Trenton makes the World Takes.
Funnel cake . Cheese cake
Would like to see an outdoor brunch spot
Actually, there is a dearth of traditional “brunch” options in town at all! We’ve been to Chencha y Chole and El Potrillo a few times for brunch, and those are pretty fun! But definitely not traditional American brunch.
The bagels at the supermarket and at DD are just big rolls. These sound authentic…the only other place I’d go is NY Bagels in Ewing. Glad to have a Trenton based joint to go to now!
Yes! Fantastic bagels, made the “right” way, and Sam is an incredibly hard-working, friendly guy. Wishing them continued success!
Went there for a blueberry bagel yesterday. Nice establishment
What wonderful news! Welcome to Trenton.
We need a Walmart! Also, find a way to turn over those abandoned buildings to some big NJ corporations and have them turn them into tourist/school trip attractions. Part history, part self-promotion. Some companies could tell their OWN story, like Lenox, J&J, etc. The attractions should be interactive – like Crayola or Hershey Factories. Before ANY revitalization can occur, Trenton needs to put some COPS out on the streets and sidewalks – a VISIBLE police presence.
Maybe the bagels will attract the cops?
Hidden Trenton With all the coffee available on Warren St. you think one of the cops would report the traffic light out? Or hey, brain fart, maybe we might get a traffic cop!
I know they exist because I see their SUVs parked on Warren and Lafayette Streets while they’re in having coffee. You take your life in your hands trying to cross the street. Yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk? HAHAhahaha…
There will NEVER be another Kramer’s!!
Have been to the shop a few times now and love their bagels. Try a bagel with jalapeno cheddar cream cheese and bacon. Sounds weird but just do it.
My only complaint is that I went for lunch last week and ordered a basic sandwich on a bagel. Whereas the bagel was still excellent, the lunch meat, lettuce and tomato had seen better days. Stick to a bagel and skip the sandwich.
I also don’t know that they do their baking on premises. During a 6:15 am jog I saw them unloading bags of bagels from the back of a station wagon. A bunch of things could explain this though – maybe they were baked in the Clinton store!
Glad to have it and will keep going back!
Gonna have to try them! Our current favorite bagel is New York Bagel Bakery on Parkway at Lower Ferry.