In the quest for the best bagel, one name reigns supreme - Gryfe's. For over 45 years Gryfe's Bagel Bakery has been making the best bagels in the world, let alone the city.
So what makes a great bagel? A great bagel should be light on the inside, crusty and chewy on the outside. It should be just the right shape and size for shmearing - the technical term - with cream cheese, peanut butter or chopped liver. It should be tasty enough so that you have to eat one in the car before you even get home. And that, in a nutshell is a Gryfe's bagel.
Arthur Gryfe and his wife, Ruth, opened Gryfe's Bagel Bakery way back in 1957, following in the footsteps of his father, Sam, who sold baked goods from a horse-drawn cart on the streets of Hamilton starting in 1915. Today, Arthur's son, Moishe, runs the bakery. Arthur passed away several years ago, but 88 years young Ruth continues to work behind the counter every Friday.
One would think that with so many different kinds of bagels out on the market, Gryfe's secret recipe must be very special and complicated. According to Manager Annabelle Villa-Real that couldn't be further from the truth. "A bagel is just flour, water, salt, sugar and yeast, but we like to think that the special ingredient we add is love."
To give you some idea of just how many bagels are baked everyday, Annabelle explains, "Our bakers come in at 3 AM and bake until 1 PM. We have 3 ovens that each hold 24 dozen bagels and each batch requires 30 minutes of baking time. So you do the math!" We did, and allowing for the other things the bakery makes, they are turning-out approximately 10,000 bagels a day which they sell out on most days of the week.
Drop in on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday morning and you'll have to join the infamous Gryfe's line-up that snakes through the small shop. While you're standing in line, start-up a conversation with your fellow bagel lovers and you'll find people who've traveled here from all over the city and possibly from other cities altogether. But don't come too late because the bagels are usually gone by 1 PM on the weekend.
The selection at the bakery hasn't changed very much over the years. Customers can choose from seven different varieties of bagels - plain, sesame, whole wheat, cinnamon & raisin, poppy seed, extra poppy seed and their newest addition, flax seed ($2.70 per 1/2 dozen, $5.25 per dozen). Along with bagels they make addictive mini-pizzas - just a flattened bagel baked with tomato sauce and cheese, packaged by the half dozen - and a few sweet treats like apple turnovers, ruggelah, blueberry buns and cheese buns.
As well as baked goods, Gryfe's can supply all the necessities for a perfect Sunday brunch - several varieties of cream cheese, cottage cheese, lox, eggs, pickled herring and orange juice.
Responding to the huge demand for their bagels, Gryfe's bagels are now available in other specialty food shops and grocery stores that receive the bagels par-cooked and finish baking them on premises to retain freshness and quality. Some of the stores where you can find their bagels include Nortown, Galati, Grace Meats, Villa Foods, Bruno's, Sue's, Chapman's, Harvest Wagon, Pusateri's and Daiter's, just to name a few.
So if you are unfamiliar with the Toronto institution that is Gryfe's, don't wait a minute more to try this city's - and probably the world's - best bagel. They are open seven days a week from 6 AM to 5 PM Monday to Friday and 5:30 AM to 3 PM on weekends. As well, the bakery is happy to take phone orders and will customize your order. So if you want whole wheat bagels with sesame seeds or mini-pizzas without cheese, just ask.
Gryfe's Bagel Bakery
3421 Bathurst St