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The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

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Battle of the bagels: Casper, Wholly Bagel, Wham Bam & Einstein

Val Tikhonova
WHAM BAM, THANK YOU MA’AM: The Wham Bam Bagel truck stands proud in it’s pink glory. This truck is located at 415 E St Elmo Rd, in Austin Texas.

Bagels, as you may know, are a very popular snack or meal for anyone. You can put anything you want on them from cream cheese and marmalade to nutella and potato chips. They became popular in the United States in the 70’s and before that they were only sold in niche Jewish shops around the country. Bagels are a popular favorite for many people but what spot sells the best tasting bagels?

I will be visiting four different and popular bagel shops, Casper Fermentables, Wholly Bagel, Einstein Bagels, and Wham Bam Bagels.

Casper Fermentables is a Brick and Mortar restaurant and bakery, they serve sourdough, kombucha and fermented vegetables inspired by Korean and Jewish ancestral traditions. Ben Haller the Founder and Fermentation Director opened the restaurant/bakery alongside Phoebe Raileanu the General Manager and Sales Director, in June of 2022 after only selling their products in farmers markets in and around Austin.

Casper Fermentables, located at 4715 S Lamar Blvd #101A, Sunset Valley is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. has an expanded menu that offers sourdough bagel sandwiches with plain, sesame, poppy, everything, jalapeno, or berry bagels, focaccia avocado toast, eggplant parm sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, an array of different types of sourdough, cookies and a brownie.

To drink, they serve Casper bottled Kombucha, Yaupon or Turmeric Kombucha, seasonal Kombucha, Yunnan tea, Iced coffee, drip coffee, and sparkling water.

The building is fairly small but has indoor and outdoor seating, there are about four small tables and one large table inside and four picnic tables outside. When ordering, you see a selection of bagels and bread next to the register that you can use to order which is fairly handy due to the menu being a bit confusing.

I ordered a simple everything bagel which is just a bagel with every kind of bread seed on it, with cream cheese, avocado, salt and pepper. When you order, they give you a number that you place on your table and you can order for there or to-go. If you order to eat your food in the restaurant, they serve it on a little rectangle silver plate that looks like a cookie pan with parchment paper on it. If you order to go, they pack up your bagels or sandwiches in fitting boxes.

The bagel looked really good, I was really pleased with the presentation, the bagel was a little hard to bite and was almost chewy rather than crispy, the surface of it was also packed with seeds that make the bagel taste rather burnt. I really liked their homemade cream cheese and the avocado looked and tasted perfect. Overall the bagel was good put together with the toppings but the bagel on its own did taste burnt and was a little too chewy.

Wholy Bagel is a bagel shop with two locations, one on 4404 William Cannon Dr and one on 3637 Far West Blvd and is open Monday through Sunday from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. They serve New York style Bagels that are baked fresh the night before. The owner, Scott Campanozzi, opened the shops a little over four years ago in 2020 and openly stands by the fact that he wouldn’t sell what he wouldn’t eat. Wholly bagel is proudly not a franchise and is straight out of a Jersey deli with New York style decorations and authentically made bagels. Their ovens are also from Italy and are made specifically to make bagels.

Wholy Bagel has 16 different types of handmade and hand folded cream cheeses alongside of course their 14 different kinds of bagels. Their bagels range from poppy seed to jalapeno and are specifically made to be chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. They also offer bagels like blueberry and cinnamon raisin and have cream cheeses like strawberry, chocolate chip, and blueberry. 

Regarding toppings wholy bagel has a variety of options from meats like ham, sausage patty, corned beef, turkey and some types of cheeses, veggies, dressings and eggs alongside their famous cream cheese. 

The shop is quite small but offers barstool seating alongside the left wall and some indoor and outdoor two-person tables. Every wall is filled with New York-style decorations like subway signs and flags. I personally really liked the environment that the shop offers, you are completely comfortable sitting in and eating your bagel while reading or doing some work. 

I noticed most of the orders they were putting out were online orders which adds up, people are in a rush in the mornings and want to stop by to pick up their favorite bagel. We ordered inside of the shop and I got a very simple poppy seed bagel with plain cream cheese. I wanted to compare it to the other places fairly so I didn’t get their intriguing toppings but I’ll have to do that a different time. 

The bagel took no longer than four minutes to be made, and was given to us cut in half. The bagel was also a really decent size and on its own can be a pretty filling breakfast. The seeds did not taste burnt and covered the outside of the bread very evenly and the inside was a perfect amount of chewiness. The cream cheese was also perfect and they used a good amount of it on my bagel. 

I entirely enjoyed my experience buying from Wholy Bagel, and the bagel itself was very good. I’d recommend it to anyone who needs to stop by somewhere on their way to school or work to grab a filling and delicious bagel. Keep in mind that they do close at 3 p.m. but you are able to order online and grab your order quickly which is very handy when in a hurry. 

Wham Bam is a bagel shop in a pink van and has been open for four years now. Wham Bam was opened by Marco Fiorilo. He was intrigued by van life and specifically the Rare Ultra Van which is what shops are in. He has a couple students from Austin High working for him that write articles and reports on their work life. He has 11 employees across both of  his locations and he goes back and forth every day, he’s more involved in his business’ day-to-day due to it, proudly, not being a franchise. 

Wham Bam offers 11 different bagel types including some interesting ones like rosemary salt, egg, blueberry and cinnamon raisin. ‘Schmears’ that they offer include butter, honey butter, plain and herbed. Some other food options that they offer are pastrami, roast beef, chicken.

They offer regular coffees like espressos, machados and lates but they also offer Cubano coffee and Cortado coffee. They also have hot chocolate and whole, oat and almond milk. 

We visited the Elmo St location on 415 E St Elmo Rd which is open Monday through Sunday from 7 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. and the van is on the side of the road with some picnic tables in front of it. I personally wouldn’t love sitting out there especially in the morning with all the sounds of traffic but I think the tables are just there for you to sit while waiting for your food. 

We ordered a garlic bagel with cream cheese and avocado. This one definitely tasted the most homemade and was the most filled. It is given to you in a little brown bag already cut in half along with the paper wrapping the bagel. The cream cheese tasted amazing, I could also really taste the garlic in the bagel and they put a perfect amount of avocado. Every part of this bagel tasted amazing, it was a bit hard to eat because every time you bite it the fillings come out but that’s unavoidable in a bagel. 

I loved the bagel, every part of it was perfect and it was very conveniently given to me. I like the family-owned feel of wham bam and especially of their bagels. I’d recommend this place to anyone, bagel lover or not because you will end up loving them. 

Lastly, I visited Einstein Bros Bagels located on 6611 S MoPac Expy which is open Monday through Sunday from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. Einstein Bros was created by a chain restaurant called Boston chicken in the 90s. It is known for delivering creative breakfasts on a bagel. Einstein Bros has three locations in Austin and some in Bee Cave, Kyle, San Marcos and Pflugerville.

Einstein Bros offers around a Dozen bagel types along with six different shmears and spreads. Along with many additional toppings you can add to your bagel like eggs, bacon and different types of cheeses. They have any type of coffee you can think of, along with hot teas, juices and blended beverages. 

The shop has a drive through, a drink station and barstool seating along the left wall, similarly to Wholy Bagel. The environment really resembled a subway, the smell and prints of art of the wall reality give it that ‘franchise’ feel and it doesn’t seem like somewhere you’d want to sit down to eat and do work in. 

This bagel shop is definitely the most “fast food” tasting one out of the four. We got a garlic bagel with cream cheese and avocado. The Bagel tasted almost stale, it was chewy and not crispy to bite into and I really didn’t enjoy it that much. It took maybe five minutes to make, which was a usual amount of time. 

I, overall, didn’t love this place, the bagel tasted okay at best due to it being stale but it was tolerable. It wouldn’t fill you up either; you’d need two of them to feel like you’ve eaten a meal. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone looking for a quality bagel but if you’re looking for the fast food version of one then go right ahead.

Out of these four places that I visited and ate bagels at, it’s a very close battle between Wham Bam and Wholy Bagel. Both offer a homemade quality tasting bagel and have great convenient presentations. I do personally prefer Wham Bam only because of the extra touches of the way they cut their bagels, the quickness of its making and the overall taste. But I didn’t hate any of the four and would recommend most of them to anyone wanting a good bagel.

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