We have a lot of New Yorkers in Austin. Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune and Asher Price of the Austin American-Statesman come to mind as well as numerous friends (and enemies) in and around the city. New Yorkers are justifiably finiky about New York-style food such as pizza and bagels (just as I am about New Mexican cuisine). In the land of breakfast tacos, is it even possible to get a good New York style bagel?
Here to answer that question is Nervous Charlie’s, a wee drive from the neighborhood over to Lamar via 2222. Nervous Charlie’s, named after the owners’ spooky spaniel, flies in dough from New York City (the yeasty kind, not the laundered kind) and serves up bagels as bagels and, in a nod to local fusion, essentially as New York tacos splayed with various ingredients. Why fly dough in from New York? Because that New York water is a magic ingredient.
You can go to Charlie’s and get a New York Dozen bagels (13 for $15) or an Austin Half Dozen (7 for $9), and these bagels look (and taste) gorgeous. Charlie’s serves up breakfast and lunch bagels with breakfast bagels gloriously served all day (Can I still order a breakfast bagel? “Sir, we let you decide when you want to eat breakfast.”).
On my first trip, shortly after they opened, they only offered two sandwiches for breakfast and three for lunch, but they’ve wisely expanded the menu; a recent trip revealed five for breakfast and five for lunch. Thus far, I’ve enjoyed a Willie’s Hot Pastrami on a plain bagel (pastrami and spicy mustard; $10) and the Longhorn on a jalapeno cheddar bagel (Taylor ham, two fried eggs, breakfast potatoes, cheddar cheese, and Charlie’s hot sauce; $9). The bagels are crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. And if all you want is a bagel with plain cream cheese, it’ll set you back only three bucks. Want one of the in-house flavored cream cheeses (such as bacon scallion, pistachio, or maple walnut)? Add another half buck. And they’ll tell you what’s fresh ’cause you really (really) want a born-from-the-boil bagel if you can get one.
The interior is bright and modern if not a bit Spartan. On my first visit, everyone seemed to comically trip over the chairs which, when drug over the floor, disturbingly sounded like electrocuted elephants. Thankfully, this didn’t seem to be a problem on a recent visit. One suggestion would be to leave in-house orders unwrapped so patrons (and the itinerant food blogger) can enjoy the unsmooshed glory of the coming meal.
I’m not sure what Charlie is nervous about (those chairs?), but you don’t have to be nervous when you visit ‘cause you’re guaranteed to get good gol-dang bagel.
web&where: interwebs; 5501 north lamar; menu
what’s the deal? New York bagels with fixins’; fast casual
overall: ** (food**; drink*; atmosphere*; service**; instagrammability**)
does it scramble? If there’s anything left over!
– meh [think twice]
* OK [it’ll get the job done]
** good [solid neighborhood joint]
*** damn good [we’ll definitely be back]
**** yippity-yikes that was amazeballs [fantastic; one of the best]
***** holy sh!t [transcendental; best of the best]