ElMar’s Bagel Pop-Ups Taking Off In Plymouth

It’s me again talking about bagels. I think I have now written about bagels and delis a dozen times for TC Jewfolk. So when there is bagel news, I act on it with impunity!

A few years ago, ElMar’s NY Pizza opened in Plymouth (15725 37th Avenue North), and I’m pretty sure I stopped by within 20 minutes of hearing the news. As always, I was excited for yet another attempt to recreate my favorite New York foods right here in the Western Suburbs of Minneapolis. The pizza was quite good – near the top of my list here in the TC in fact, but at $5/slice??? If I can get a New York slice for $2 in New York, I just can’t fathom paying 2.5 the price for something that still falls short. But that’s just me. Kudos to ElMar for making it through the pandemic.

Well – as luck would have it, I was clued in that ElMar wasn’t content just doling out $5 slices. They had another NY trick up their sleeves – using those pizza ovens to make bagels.

The rumor going around (possibly started by owners Michael and Nicole ElMaraghy) was the vacant storefront next to their pizza shop was going to become a bagel shop. Michael said the couple decided to pull the plug on this plan indefinitely, citing kids and high-interest rates.

But the dream of bagels led to the pop-up at ElMar’s NY Pizza, which ElMaraghy said makes much more business sense. It started as an occasional event in March, but by late May, it had grown into a three-day per week endeavor: Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. A few weeks into this, I headed out to Plymouth to see just what was going on.

I was greeted by a pretty long line in the parking lot before the doors opened at 9 a.m. on a dreary Sunday. The conversations overheard on that line were epic – strangers playing Jewish geography throughout the Five Boroughs of NYC. It was a gathering of altacockers not seen since summer in the Catskills in the 1950s. I heard complaints about Minneapolis bagels, Minneapolis pizza, the Yankees starting lineup, and a host of other things.

ElMar's everything bagel. (Photo by Jeff Mandell)

ElMar’s everything bagel. (Photo by Jeff Mandell)

Then they opened the doors. One by one (including TCJ’s own, Lonny Goldsmith) customers walked out with bags and bags of bagels. When I got to the front of the line about 20 minutes later, they were getting very low on supply. I would say 30 minutes in and they were likely all gone. They had four varieties – everything, plain, poppy, and sesame (Editor’s note: They’ve since added salt, garlic, and onion). Plain cream cheese was the only option there (but they’ve since added scallion and jalapeno cream cheeses) and they were making egg sandwiches as well.

So if a slice of pizza is $5, how much do you think they charge for a bagel?

At $3 a pop, a dozen bagels is $36 – which is otherworldly to me. My favorite New York bagels shop sells them for $1.75 each or $21 for a dozen. The Sunday pop-up is now a 1/2 dozen limit. But my mind was slightly blown. No way on Earth I am telling my parents that Minnesota bagels are now almost $40 a dozen.

“What do they come with caviar?” I can hear my mom say.

I dove right in as soon as I got back to the car. These bagels hit most of the points I’m looking for. They had a solid exterior “shell” and a good chew on the inside. The seed adhesion was on point. They are enormous though – on the larger side of any bagels I have seen. So factor that in when you account for their high sticker price. (Editor’s note: The bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich was excellent).

On our TCJ bagel scale:
Look (out of 5): Do your eyes say, “I need this?”

Crust (5): Firm, not crunchy, and distinct from the guts of the bagel

Fluffiness/Chew (5): Soft and pliable, but not “chewy.”

Taste (10): Nothing else matters if it tastes bad, so this is worth double points.

Intangibles (5): Any special shout-outs that didn’t otherwise get their due.

  • Look, 4: They look great, albeit large.
  • Crust, 3.5: A big improvement over most Minnesota-made bagels but not quite there yet.
  • Fluffiness/Chew, 4: Still not perfect, but solid.
  • Taste, 8.5: Really good here – makes up for the deficiencies.
  • Intangibles, 4: Seed adhesion was great and these freeze/toast well. Docking them a point for the high price tag.

Final Score (out of 30): 24

I’m liking where this is going but it’s a once-in-a-while type of thing for me. I moved to Minnesota to escape the high cost of everything, right?

TC Jewfolk editor Lonny Goldsmith assisted in reporting. And eating.