more bagels for Houston
Facebook’s favorite Houston bagel pop-up opens cafe and coffee shop in the Heights
For the past couple of days, the Heights has been experiencing a food frenzy unlike any in recent memory. Bagels have returned to the Heights for the first time since 2021.
Credit for the development goes to Brazos Bagel, which officially opened Thursday, February 1 at 2155 Durham Dr. Open Tuesday - Sunday from 6:30 am until 2 pm (or sold out, more on that in a bit), the bagel shop serves up to nine flavors of bagels and three bagel sandwiches — build your own; the CBGB, a meat, egg, and cheese sandwich named for the legendary New York City rock club; and Whole Lox of Love, the mandatory bagel and lox with cream cheese, tomato, red onions, capers, and cucumber. Schmears, including 10 different flavors of cream cheese, further enhance the shop’s variety.
Adding to the cafe’s appeal is that it’s the new home for Little Dreamer Coffee. Veteran barista Matt Toomey quietly closed Little Dreamer’s location in the Stomping Grounds development last year, so seeing him back behind the bar will be a welcome site for those who have followed his career from since he helped establish essential Heights destination Boomtown Coffee.
The interior design nods to owner Zac Wilson’s time as a professional musician, with framed mugshots of famous rock stars and vinyl records on the walls. A glassed-in dough room allows diners to watch Wilson and his team rolling bagels by hand, a nod to traditional that the proprietor finds to be an essential component of Brazos’s success.
“I feel strongly there is something in the hand-rolled bagel that’s different in a good way,” Wilson says. “I can taste the difference in the dough. It has a different mouth feel, even structurally it feels different.”
As bagel-obsessed Houstonians know well, the Brazos Bagel brick and mortar has been a long time coming. Wilson, a self-taught baker, first caught the bagel bug during the pandemic when he was living in the Los Angeles area. Ojai Bagel, a company he started with his wife in their home, drew fans but proved unsustainable. That led him to move to Houston where he has family.
After several twists and turn, Wilson built Brazos Bagel’s reputation by selling at area farmers market and at Kojak’s, a restaurant on 18th Street where he served his bagels with spreads and as sandwiches for the first time beginning last summer.
Strong support from the Houston Heights Foodies Facebook group fueled Wilson and his team to expand their daily output, which reached over 100 dozen per week during his time at Kojak’s. Those fans have showed up in force the past couple days, meaning Brazos has sold out before noon. Those early sell outs will become less frequent as Wilson adapts to the shop’s equipment and improves the staff’s workflow.
Still, the enthusiasm isn’t a surprise. From the perspective of some local connoisseurs, Houston only has five legitimate bagel bakeries — none of which are in the Heights. Brazos gives the city a potential sixth. Wilson recognizes the opportunity in front of him.
“I know I’m in competition, but I don’t view it like that,” he says. “It’s not like you have one hamburger joint. Let’s all make good bagels. I want to grow that. More bagels for Houston.”