TheDoctor makes Chicago Bagel Authority a requirement every trip to Chicago. When he told me about it, I was honestly thinking it was just going to be another bagel breakfast place. I didn’t let on how lame I thought it was because he’s much bigger than I am and because I really didn’t care all that much.
The place is very unassuming from the outside, but I guess if you’re an awesome place, you just let you food speak for you, since who is going to believe signs that say, “Hey we’re awesome! Eat here!” (I’m lying, I totally would buy into that gimmick…)
The inside is covered with sheets of paper, which you might think of as clutter. But don’t be tricked – 99% of the paper on the wall is a list of sandwich ingredients. So on top of the 85+ sandwiches listed on the regular menu, there are 30 or 40 other sandwiches to choose from stuck to the walls. You really need to study this menu when you get here, you can’t just pick a random sandwich or you’re going to get back to your table and find 13 other sandwiches you would have preferred over your hasty choice.
All of the sandwiches have hilariously bizarre names. You decide on a sandwich, step up to the counter and tell any number of random people behind the counter which sandwich you’d like. You get charged a $0.25 fee if you have “cooking instructions” like don’t steam my sandwich – all of their sandwiches come steamed. What is a steamed sandwich, you ask? It’s as simple as it sounds. They make your sandwich, then they steam it with a special machine from heaven. It makes the bread or bagel ultra moist and tasty and melts any cheese you have on your sandwich, without wilting the other veggie-based ingredients. It’s probably based on the White Castle theory of putting holes in the meat to steam the bun so it ends up moist when you shove it in your mouth. I didn’t think it would make that much difference, but it totally does.
I went with the Mikey’s Munch - Roast beef, pepperjack, avocado, lettuce, tomato, peppercorn dressing on a steamed sesame seed bagel (normally it’s on an Everything Bagel, but I don’t like everything – dur).
I was torn between like 10 different bagels and this is what I decided on (the other contenders were Slick Willy, Hide the Salami, Bob-n-Que, Dirty Swede, The Puck, Chicago Fire, Dreadlock, Good Rick, Chip’s Special, The Cosby, or the Chicago Fire – I told you you’d have trouble deciding). They do have bacon-based sandwiches, as well as corned beef, roast beef, turkey, ham, pepperoni, meatballs, salami, veggies, butter, scrambled eggs, or cheese. I’ll clarify – these aren’t ingredients, these are the things the sandwiches are BASED around. They throw on all kinds of other stuff as well. See, they’re not a breakfast bagel place, they’re an anytime bagel place. You can also get any sandwich as a sub (if a bagel isn’t large enough for you – I say just go for two different bagels – that’s what I’m doing next time – in two weeks).
The sandwich was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten, and it totally shouldn’t be. It’s a bagel after all, right? I am really surprised by that and now, like TheDoctor, I will have to start forcing people to go there and experience this wonder that is the steamed sandwich.
On your way out, in a glass display case by the door (make sure you only look on your way OUT, mind you), you’ll find a very unique lost and found collection displayed. I understand this place is great as a hangover cure, but since people are generally sober in the morning hours, I’m wondering how these particular items ended up found in the CBA and why does it keep happening? Weird.
Top 5 things about Chicago Bagel Authority
1. Mikey’s Munch
2. Steamed bagels
3. Super nice people working
4. There’s no way you can’t find something to eat here
5. It’s 20 feet from a brown line CTA stop
Bottom 5 things
1. If Gerd had eaten here, we would be making weekly trips to Chicago to eat here. Then we would have had to weight the option of paying for gas and hotels or getting an apartment and flying down every weekend. It would have been high drama either way
2. There are WAAAY too many awesome looking items on the menu here – I will have to keep going back, darn
3. I didn’t know about the “other” sandwiches until I had already decided and went up to order
4. There are a LOT of milfs pushing strollers and double-wide strollers here on a Tuesday morning (wait, is that a bad thing?)
5. I’m going to have to listen to RubyVita yell at me that SHE’s a sandwich girl, not me, and I should quit adding sandwich places to her already huge list of places she has to eat now…