February 6, 2014

Gluten-Free Bagels Now Available at Moe’s Bagel Shop in Boulder

By Evan Sandsmark -  

A bagel almost always sounds good in the morning, so not infrequently we wake up and hunt for a bagel shop or bagel store. The problem is that regular bagels aren’t gluten-free, and despite the growing variety of gluten-free offerings around Boulder, we’ve still had trouble tracking down a bagel shop that sells gluten-free bagels. We say we had trouble finding gluten-free bagels in Boulder because this is (for the most part) no longer an issue. Moe’s Bagels, staple of Boulder and undoubtedly one of the best bagel shops in town, now offers gluten-free bagels. We went in over the weekend to try Moe’s gluten-free bagels, which had been on our radar for a while, and below we share the first gluten-free bagel experience we’ve had in a while.

While we applaud any eatery’s effort to offer gluten-free options on their menu, we must say Moe’s doesn’t have a particularly large selection, and this just recently became the case. A few months ago, when Moe’s gluten-free bagels first came to our attention, they were offering both plain and poppy seed gluten-free bagels, as well as oatmeal and chocolate chip gluten-free cookies, all of which were made onsite. This is quite impressive when you consider the demands of baking gluten-free products in a place that is constantly making regular baked goods. (We had similar thoughts when we tried the excellent gluten-free bread at Great Harvest in Boulder.) In addition to the gluten-free products made in-house, Moe’s also offered gluten-free bread rolls for sandwiches just in case you didn’t feel like a bagel. Moe’s was, in short, an excellent place to get gluten-free bagels, cookies, and sandwiches. However, the bounty of gluten-free products is no more, as our recent trip confirms.

We visited the Moe’s on 28th Street (3267 28th Street, more precisely), which is basically on the northern edge of the main part of Boulder. Moe’s has two other locations in Boulder – there is one at 3075 Araphoe Avenue and another at 2650 Broadway. (The latter is presumably the original Moe’s, as Moe’s full name is Moe’s Broadway Bagel.) For the record, there is also a Moe’s in Denver at 550 Grant Street, but we’ve never been there.

When you walk into the Moe’s on 28th Street and turn right, you’ll see the following sign:

Moes Bagels Sign

At the bottom of the sign in the middle of your picture, you’ll see that it says you can add a gluten-free bun for $1.25. This is the one reference to gluten-free food on the menu, and to be honest it doesn’t really make sense, as Moe’s doesn’t have a gluten-free “bun,” but rather, once more, a gluten-free bagel. Strangely, Moe’s website also says they have gluten-free buns, but we specifically asked about all the gluten-free menu items during our visit, and we were informed that they only have one type of gluten-free bagel, which is made by Udi’s. So, we don’t know why there are fewer gluten-free items at Moe’s now, nor do we know why the one gluten-free item that is clearly a bagel is called a bun, but there you have it.

We have spoken of Moe’s as something of a paradise lost, as a great bagel shop that once had towers of gluten-free food, but has recently fallen from grace now that it only offers one gluten-free bagel. While we enjoy infusing our reviews with theological drama, it’s a bit misleading, primarily because Moe’s still is a good place to get gluten-free bagels, and their one gluten-free bagel is good and can be enhanced with essentially any topping or spread in the store. As we have said before, a single gluten-free bread option at sandwich shop makes a huge difference. A menu closed to those on the gluten-free diet is opened when most of items on a menu can be made GF simply by substituting bread. Exactly this thinking must be applied to Moe’s. They may only have one gluten-free bagel, but you can do a lot with it.

In our case, we ordered a bagel with artichoke and Parmesan cream cheese, one of the 14 types of delicious cream cheeses available. (There are actually 17 if you count the light versions of three of the cream cheeses.) Nothing goes with a cream cheese bagel like lox, so we added a little of that on our sandwich as well. There are lots of other options from which to choose. Instead of cream cheese, we could have ordered a heartier breakfast bagel by adding things like egg, sausage, and bacon to our sandwich, or we could have ordered any of the lunch toppings as well (several lunch meats, veggies, and condiments). Factoring in the extra cost of the gluten-free bagel, our total came to around $5.00, which is reasonable given that the bagel alone was a satisfying breakfast that left me full.

No doubt our hunger was sated largely because of the amount of cream cheese on the bagel, which can be seen in this picture:

Moes Bagels

While extremely good, the cream cheese was a bit overwhelming, but this was easy enough to rectify by scrapping a little bit off. (Next time, we’ll of course just ask for less.) With a more modest amount of cream cheese on the bagel, our sandwich was delicious. The smokiness of the lox went very well with relatively strong Parmesan and artichoke flavors. The gluten-free bagel itself was good (we’re fans of Udi’s), although it should have been toasted a bit more. As far as we could tell, the bagel was frozen before we ordered it. We don’t have any problems with this – we can’t expect Udi’s to deliver a fresh batch of gluten-free bagels to Moe’s every single day, great as that would be – but given that it was frozen, the bagel needed to be fully toasted. In truth, though, this was at least partially our fault. After we ordered, we heard people specify that they wanted their bagel toasted, so we suspect that Moe’s simple unthawed our bagel by giving it a light toasting and then left it at that. If it would have been more thoroughly toasted, the bagel would have been less chewy and dense, and this would have enhanced our sandwich. Overall, however, we very much enjoyed our bagel.

So, although Moe’s once had more gluten-free offerings, we still recommend a trip to the bagel shop if you want a gluten-free bagel that you don’t have to buy at a store and toast at home. This is exactly why we were excited to learn about Moe’s gluten-free bagels – we always wanted there to be a convenient place to grab a GF bagel in town. Moreover, and as explained above, the fact that there is only one type of gluten-free bagel isn’t really a huge limitation. There are scores of different kinds of bagel sandwiches you can make. You can have basically any bagel/sandwich topping you want – you just have to have it on a gluten-free bagel.

Note: Many of the places we visit merely offer gluten-free options, and hence are not necessarily 100% gluten-free facilities, so if proximal cross-contamination is an issue, call ahead. If you would like us to review a particular restaurant with gluten-free options, send an email to info@glutenfreeinboulder.com. We’ll try our best to check it out!

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