Eating Through the Alphabet: Great Bagel & Bakery

Published 12:50 pm Friday, April 7, 2023

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By Eden Slone

Intern Reporter

Rise and shine, Jessamine County! We are back on the road for our Eating Through the Alphabet series, and this week it’s for my favorite meal of the day:  breakfast, and not just any breakfast, but a bagel breakfast feast at Great Bagel & Bakery.

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The Atmosphere

As a college student at the University of Kentucky, the Woodland Avenue location is perfect for me and just a short walk from campus. It’s tiny, but that doesn’t stop people from coming in. As a frequent visitor, rarely, this place doesn’t have a steady line of traffic, although they do a great job of keeping it moving. You’re able to look through the glass case full of bagels piled high on top of  wooden sticks and other yummy baked goods) cinnamon rolls, anyone?) as you order at the register before receiving your receipt and order number. As you stand or sit to wait for your order, it’s a great spot to read, catch up on work, or even people-watch: for a small space, there are lots of tables and chairs – and a few comfy lounge chairs to snag if you’re lucky.

The Food

The beauty of a restaurant being so heavily specialized is that you know what you’re getting is about to be good, while the pain is how to narrow down your options for that specialty. At Great Bagel, they are providing you with some big decisions to make. Sweet or savory? Bagel with cream cheese or bagel sandwich? Classic comforts like bacon, egg, and cheese, or NY staples like Lox and cream cheese? With 12 bagels seven days a week (and gluten-free on the weekends!), everything is there, from bagel to cinnamon raisin to maple bourbon. All bagels can be ordered with a slew of cream cheeses (strawberry, scallion, the works) or used in a sandwich. As a frequent visitor, I wanted to switch up my traditional American (meat of choice – I typically do bacon, a fried egg your way–runny, always–and cheese, I recommend it –  to something I’ve never tried before. That said, I opted for the Kentucky Brown, a bagel’s spin on a hot brown, along with a French toast bagel topped with maple bourbon cream cheese. I am a huge hot brown lover, so I would argue I am a harsh critic when trying them. I was curious to see how this iconic dish would transfer, and I was pleasantly surprised. Turkey, bacon, Mornay sauce, tomato, and a hint of pimento make up this sandwich. The pimento was a fun twist, and the mornay sauce was what I needed for that “hot brown taste.” I  was also incredibly impressed that the sauce or sliding off the sandwich wasn’t messy. I got this sandwich on a plain bagel to work as a solid base for the toppings, and I am happy with that choice. It was super filling. However, I did leave just enough room to dive into my French toast bagel. Doused in sugar and smudged with maple cream cheese, this was a dessert bagel at its finest. It was sweet and gooey, and the cream cheese was so flavorful. While the bagel was more sugary, the cream cheese balanced it with its bourbon-like and more robust flavor. It was undoubtedly a well-made match.

The Must-Try

Although I could easily give multiple must-tries and say it all depends on what you’re looking for if I was going to give one essential item, it would be the maple bourbon cream cheese. There’s something so fun about elevating a classic food you think you’ve had every version of, like a bagel and cream cheese, and completely changing the game. This is a cream cheese I could also see being great with other things.

Final Takeaways

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and at Great Bagel, I always feel like I’m starting my day on the right note. After I leave, I always feel good about going, like I did something beneficial for myself and the productivity of my day. While some may argue the feeling of productivity stems from my walk there, I disagree. It’s in the warm lighting, the buzz of the conversation, the smell of dough, not to mention the way my stomach feels happy and satisfied for hours later. It’s a great little place, truly. If you’re looking for a new morning start, consider starting at Great Bagel.


396 Woodland Ave. Lexington, KY 40508 or 3650 Boston Rd. Suite 108 Lexington, KY 40514