The Corner Bagel Shop on Urbanspoon

Breakfast restaurants evoke a friendlier, family style environment than somewhere you usually go to dinner.  Sure, I see friends and familiar faces when I visit Summa Joe’s and The Cazbah, but it is more a result of coincidence than something that I can set my watch by.  Maybe there is something special about rising to a new day.  Maybe the camaraderie between clientele and the providers of the most important meal of the day puts things off on the right foot. Maybe we just cling to some sense of stability in our morning routine before we go off to tackle the world (or at least storm a castle or two).

At any given time on a Saturday morning, I can go to the diner down the street and see my retired next door neighbor surrounded by friends as if he were the mayor.  I could go back to my favorite breakfast spot in my old college town of Boone, North Carolina tomorrow morning and see the same owners, half the waitresses, and a few of my old college professors sitting right where I left them over fourteen years ago.  A quality breakfast restaurant will gain the same loyalty as any other eatery but they also build a routine that is harder to find at other times food serving venues.

This is why I am hesitant to write about The Corner Bagel Shop. The clientele is firmly in place and I do not need the line to be any longer the next time I go in for a bagel. Not that I am so arrogant to think that anybody rushes out to try every place I write about but in the event that even two of you do, you will be hooked and I might be late to work next Wednesday.

However, I am a supporter of all that is good in The Upstate and, more importantly, a Man of the People, so here it goes anyway…

The Corner Bagel Shop has been my favorite place for breakfast in Anderson since I moved here eight years ago. The ownership changed but I still see the previous owner regularly as a patron. The staff has changed less than any other business I have ever frequented (restaurants or otherwise). The clientele is consistent to the degree that at times I see some of The Corner Bagel Shop’s customers with more frequency than I see my friends and family that live 40 minutes away. 
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I eat breakfast (and lunch) at The Corner Bagel Shop any time my schedule and location allow it. My regular, and preferred, time though is Saturday mornings. I have been bringing my son, Ivan, there for breakfast on “Man Saturdays” since he was an infant. He is now six years old and both customers and staff frequently talk to me about “back when he was a baby”.   A restaurant has watched my child grow up and that is something you do not find every day.

Enough about the relationship, though, let us get to the food….

I admit that I can be a snobby eater – especially breakfast. I cannot stomach Waffle House at 3 AM when anybody still up at that hour is guaranteed to enjoy Waffle House.  Most breakfast places in this region follow that same diner pattern with varying degrees of success. Eggs plus grease plus overcooked meat on a flat grill are a dime a dozen.

In the entire town, though, there is only one place that you can get a bagel. Trust me. I have driven to Clemson and Greenville on Sundays to satisfy an intense craving for bagels. Bagels should not be that hard to find. The Corner Bagel Shop does not just have the only bagels, however, they have really good bagels.

I either order the Plain or Everything bagel (Everything if I am going home to eat, Plain if I am going directly out in public and worry about stray bagel toppings decorating my teeth). Sometimes I use it as the foundation for a sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich. Sometimes it is the side item for the best steak and cheese omelet in town.  Sometimes I will order them as my side item for lunch but in the magnificent form of Bagel Chips:  bagels sliced cold cut thin and toasted until they become a tastier, healthier chip than you could even begin to imagine with any other lunch.  

Oh, did I mention they stay open for lunch? 

Lunch at The Corner Bagel is another matter altogether.  They serve breakfast the whole time they are open but lunch is a whole different experience in itself. Just like the bagels, they offer a variety of breads that are baked onsite. I keep it simple when it comes to bread so the sourdough suits me just fine but there are plenty of flavors for any taste bud from rye to jalapeno cheddar. The sandwich combinations follow the same pattern:  stick to an old standard like a Philly or a Club or try out the Spicy Rascal or the Cuban Panini Wrap.  If you are into a lighter lunch their fresh salads are a great choice; my wife’s favorite is the Corner B Signature Salad which offers fresh strawberries, apples, candied walnuts and feta cheese piled on a fresh spring mix.

The icing on the cake is the assortment of goodies on the counter while you wait in line to order. It is almost like The Idiot Aisle at the grocery or hardware store but I am much more comfortable buying a freshly made brownie or muffin than I am making a last-second purchase on a flashlight that doubles as pencil sharpener or car polish. This “treat of the day” is always fresh and enticing and I have never regretted succumbing to the purchase of one at the last minute (Actually, it is Ivan that often talks me into a last-minute-muffin. Yes, I just blamed my child).

At my best (or worst) point in my addiction to The Corner Bagel I was visiting as many as four times a week. I have a rule about not overeating at any one venue but I had a unique way of justifying my behavior: A breakfast bagel and an omelet are completely different breakfast selections. Likewise, a steak sandwich and a club are drastically different sandwiches in their own rite. With a minimal overlap in ingredients spanning two out of the day’s three meals, I was able to visit regularly without getting bored. I have since reigned in my reckless consumption of The Corner Bagel but I promise you that if you visit once, you will understand the reason behind my addiction (and I might just see you there).