This week, I reached out for a Bagelrito — a mashup or hybrid of a bagel and a breakfast burrito — at everybody's nearby bagel shop chain, Einstein Bros. Bagels, with 815 restaurants nationally and 10 here in the Houston area. This has a lot going for it, and a couple of shortcomings, so let's get cracking.
Here's the Bagelrito breakdown: start with two cage-free eggs (good for you, Einstein Bros.), turkey sausage, thick-cut bacon, three types of cheese, hash browns, salsa and green chilis stuffed in a flour tortilla, then jammed into a burrito-shaped Asiago bagel dough.
History buffs remember Winston Churchill's famous quote from 1939: "It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." That's the Bagelrito, all right, served warm and toasty. For a billion bonus points: who or what was Churchill calling a riddle, mystery, enigma?
Total calories: 930 (whoa!). Fat grams: 40. Sodium: 2,160 mg. Carbs: 104 g (woe!) Dietary fiber: 0 g. Protein: 41 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $6.99 … for a fast food breakfast sandwich, just one of them.
Straight shootin', this is a gimmick. It's one of those strange mashup designed to make noise on the PR wires and get some press coverage. I'm not falling for that.
If you want a decent bagel, yeah, Einstein Bros. is your play. It's even got a wide menu of breakfast sandwiches. But if you're in the mood for a breakfast burrito, there's no shortage of better choices, like Taco Cabana. Even Chick-fil-A makes a surprisingly satisfying breakfast burrito. Why, two doors down from my local Einstein Bros. Bagels is Torchy's Tacos. You can't go wrong with Torchy's Tacos, they're killing it in Houston.
I know, this is a first world problem, but there's too many different foods battling for camera time in the Bagelrito. Not all of the flavors and textures go together. The tortilla gets lost in the bagel dough, and the turkey sausage and bacon fade into the cheese and chilis. Plus, $6.99 and 930 calories in the morning is a heavy price to pay.
A bigger issue: This concoction is concocted off campus, you won't find a fry cook whomping up fresh eggs in a skillet and frying bacon and sausage in your local Einstein Bros. Bagels. Food is assembled and toasted up at Einstein Bros, but there's no kitchen back behind swinging doors for waitresses bustling back and forth.
If you want a fresh bagel, made from scratch, boiled and baked on premises, you'll have to find a bagel shop like … might I suggest the New York Deli & Coffee Shop on Hillcroft or the Hot Bagel Shop on S. Shepherd? Those are the real deal. And the New York Deli & Coffee Shop even has bialys, the unsung hero of the entire bagel industry.
A better play at Einstein Bros.: an Everything Bagel with a shmear of onion and chive cream cheese. You'll be smart like Einstein.
And now for your trivia answer: When Churchill called someone or something "a riddle, wrapped inside a mystery, inside an enigma," he was talking about … Russia.
Ken Hoffman reviews a new fast food restaurant item every Wednesday. Have a suggestion or a drive-thru favorite? Let Ken know on Twitter.