Hardly strictly bagels | Brace yourself, bagel traditionalists: Its the cragel

First there was the plain cragel. Now, seven months and six varieties later, the House of Bagels in San Francisco has introduced the pumpkin pie cragel — just in time for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

The first ones hit the display case last week.

“The moment we put them out they were gone,” said co-owner Jenny Puente. “We wanted to do something special for this time of year. And for Thanksgiving, we’ll offer a pie-size version, the size of a pie. You slice it up like a pie.”

A 12-inch bagel on my Thanksgiving table? Uh … yes!

Part of the hybrid food explosion, a cragel is a mixture of croissant and bagel. Sure, there’s derision about trendy food mashups — such as cronuts (croissant-doughnut), ramen burgers (Japanese noodles atop a burger) and cuffins (cookie-muffin). And I’m sure many a bagel traditionalist is cringing over the concept of a cragel.

But I must admit it: I do like the House of Bagels cragel, at least the two varieties I’ve tried (plain and cinnamon). The plain is buttery and a little bit flaky but at the same time firm and chewy like a good bagel.

Pumpkin pie cragel

Jenny and her husband, Mike Puente, introduced the product in March. The varieties have included plain, jalapeño and cheese, cinnamon (with a crème-brûlée-crusted bottom), s’mores, “everything” and Nutella. A few dozen of each are produced each day, and they’ve generally been a smash hit.

Jenny, who grew up in a Jewish family in New York, wouldn’t tell me what’s next, saying only, “We’ve always got something up our sleeves. We always do a lot of testing. We knock our socks off before we share it.”

The pumpkin pie cragel is made with pumpkin, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and egg. And topped with whipped cream.

In the bagel world, there’s a lot of controversy about who “invented” the cragel, with some guy from the Bagel Store in Brooklyn, N.Y., insisting he gets credit. I’m steering clear of all that, as is Jenny. “We just shrug it all off and wish for the best for everyone,” she said.

Cragels are available at the House of Bagels in San Francisco — which is not related to other area House of Bagels — and a few cafés that have accounts with HOB, such as Bagel Guys in San Jose.

House of Bagels

5030 Geary Blvd., San Francisco

6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

www.houseofbagels.com; SFHOB on Facebook;

@SFHouseofBagels on Twitter

(415) 752-6000; (415) 690-9908 for wholesale or advance orders



DELI DINNER: A deli serving dinner isn’t huge news. Saul’s in Berkeley has been doing it for more than 25 years; Miller’s East Coast for 20 years. But Wise Sons Deli’s launching of dinner service at the end of September sure did get a lot of coverage in the local food blogs. Still, things are off to a mild start, with only 25 to 50 diners per night during dinner hours — 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, only at the 24th Street location.

“It’s a great time to come in,” co-owner Evan Bloom said. “So far, it’s been mostly people from the neighborhood. But it’s good. Super mellow. The last thing we wanted to do was open up to chaos.”

The menu is a condensed version of the daytime menu, plus dinner specialties such as hormone- and antibiotic-free brisket braised with beer, onions and prunes, and served with maple horseradish turnips; chicken schnitzel with a shaved vegetable salad dressed in harissa vinaigrette; and kasha varnishkas (toasted buckwheat, caramelized onion and shmaltz tossed with bowtie pasta). There are also challah pull-apart rolls served hot and brushed with honeyed shmaltz, but they are two for $3 rather than a table freebie. (No free pickles, either. Waa!)

Unlike for breakfast and lunch, there is table service for dinner, but it’s “very casual” rather than pretentious, Bloom said. And though there are only 28 seats, so far there’s been no typical Wise Sons frenzy; people can “sit back and enjoy a glass of wine or another beer without being rushed,” Bloom said.


COUNTER ATTACK: Changes are afoot at Paulie’s Pickling, the unsung Jewish deli counter inside the marketplace at 331 Cortland Ave. in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights area.

First, the takeaway spot is now open for breakfast, with hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (closed on Tuesdays). Breakfast choices include three kinds of egg sandwiches on a bialy, as well as bagels and shmears and warm noodle kugel, plus jelly from Little Bee Baking a few doors down. Other vendors in the marketplace also have started serving breakfast, and Blue Bottle coffee is available.

In addition, starting Nov. 1, Paulie’s will take over an adjacent counter and sell grab-and-go items prepared by owners Paul and Liz Ashby and other vendors, including some 331 Cortland alumni. Liz, who was raised Orthodox in Newton, Mass., also mentions that she has added a couple of new sandwiches to the menu, which she oversees; her husband, Paul, is in charge of all things briny.



When Rye Project opened this summer in San Francisco, its website noted it was “intentionally closed” on Saturdays. What a nice nod to Shabbat, I thought. But earlier this month, the small Jewish deli on Seventh Street in SoMa announced it is now open on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s also open for lunch on weekdays … The glatt kosher Jerusalem Grill & Bar in Campbell featured Japanese food and sushi on Oct. 23, and other theme menus pop up every now and then. Among them: Mexican food, Thanksgiving items and sports-bar-type appetizers for the Super Bowl. And it’s all kosher, of course. To get advance notice, get on the email list by sending an email to [email protected] … A “happy hour” with borscht? Indeed. The 20th Century Café in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley has introduced “happier hours” during which it is featuring chilled beet borscht ($8) and other items from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. It’s not a Jewish place, nor is the owner Jewish, but the regular menu includes bagels, smoked salmon, babka, honey cake, knishes and a Reuben sandwich … Ari Feingold, the owner-chef of Straw in San Francisco, is slated to be on the Cooking Channel show “Offbeat Eats” preparing his carnival-themed restaurant’s doughnut burger. The first showing is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24 … Soy Vay, the popular marinade brand founded in 1983 by a Jewish guy from the Peninsula, Eddie Scher, and his college friend, Heidi Chien, is just finishing up a promotion aimed at reinforcing the fact that it’s a Bay Area product (Oakland-based Clorox bought it in 2011). Part of the promotion was a sandwich at Wise Sons Deli that included Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki marinade and sauce. 

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Send hot tips and out-of-the-way finds to Andy Altman-Ohr at [email protected]

Andy Altman-Ohr

Andy Altman-Ohr was J.’s managing editor and Hardly Strictly Bagels columnist until he retired in 2016 to travel and live abroad. He and his wife have a home base in Mexico, where he continues his dalliance with Jewish journalism.