Kettleman Bagel Company – Downtown

Kettleman Bagel Company – Downtown, Brief Review
Overall Service Food Quality Atmosphere Vegan Options
6 8 6 5 5
Location: 845 SW 4th Portland, OR

Phone: 503-445-8188 Fax: 503-445-8189

Hours: 6am to 6pm Times Visited: 6+

Rooted inside this reviewer is a native New Yorker who likes her pizza crusts thin, her falafel cheap, and bagels toasted, thick, and chewy.  I’ve sampled Kettleman Bagels across town sporadically since they opened on SE 11th a few years ago; my method of choice being smeared with tasty, flavored cream cheeses at Sweetpea Baking Co.

Prior to the opening of the new downtown Kettleman’s this summer, my opinion was that their bagels were simply the best bagel vehicle for a spread in Portland, by default.  They didn’t complete the deep bagel craving in my heart, but they came closer than anything else, and they are made with Northwest grown Shepard’s Grain Sustainable Wheat.

Kettleman’s boils and bakes an enormous amount of kosher bagels daily, and the consistency varies.  I’ve had great, chewy bagels and others that walk the line slowly towards Noah’s soft style.  Others were so in between I was sad the term ‘New York style’ was associated.  In case you’re not familiar, New York style bagels are technically large, yeasted rolls with a hole in the middle that are made with malt, salt, and boiled prior to baking. If you’ve had a bagel in New York City, I am confident you believe the hype, and know what I’m talking about.

After several visits to the new Kettleman’s, my stance remains the same: their bagels are simply the most realistic bagel you can buy in Portland, by default.  I don’t know if all bagels are being cooked at the SE location and dispersed around town, but the most consistently positive experiences I’ve had are at the hurry-in-and-out downtown location.

There’s just enough room to peek down in the display case when you walk inside the new shop on SW 4th and move a foot or two to the register to order and pay.  When it’s wet outside, you may have to push your way up front or have your selection memorized.  Aiding the appropriate morning bagel rush are the smiling, quickly moving counter staff, beckoning your orders and prepping your bagel.  They also offer a fax-ahead service for individual and group offers.  I’ve never waited more than a few minutes for my bagel, even on zany, busy days with office worker zombies crowding the usually decently dripped Stumptown coffee pots.  Credit for the large pitcher of soymilk along with the rest. On nice days, the front doors are open and people wait outside for their orders.  If you do this, I recommend listening very carefully because I’ve heard orders called out multiple times before being picked up.  There is absolutely no room for indoor seating.  It’s a crowded squeeze both in front and behind the counter of this shop, but there is a small table outside.

As for the bagel experiences, the downtown location delivers the promise of ‘toasted’ on most requests, and that’s more than I can say for most coffee shops that offer bagels. Vegans have their choice of jelly, plain Tofutti, vegetable Tofutti, and gourmet hummus for spreading. Additional topping choices include mixed spring greens, tomato, red onion, olives, cucumber, and capers.  None of their pastries are vegan, and my spread preference goes to the hummus ($2.95/bagel). There’s nothing gourmet about it and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s sourced outside the company, but it’s a decent, mildly spiced, creamy hummus – and just slightly cheaper than the Tofutti. They do pile the smooth, original ‘futi, but I find that too bland unless it’s on the borderline sweet Cinnamon Raisin.  And my two under toasted bagels (cinnamon raisin and garlic) from this shop were slapped with Tofutti, so I’m a bit scarred. I’ll volunteer for toasted sesame and poppy seeds in my teeth and hummus-y, garlic breath, thanks.

Kettleman, you’re decent, and hummus smeared bagels for $3 are appreciated, because sometimes you just want a quick bagel for breakfast or lunch.  That being said, I can just as easily hold out for the real thing in the Big Apple.

Poppy Seed bagel with Gourmet Hummus

a good bagel

Cinnamon Raisin with plain Tofutti cream cheese.



5 responses to “Kettleman Bagel Company – Downtown

  1. wow.

    i mean, i live in NYC and all, but those bagels look freakin’ delicious. i’ll have to do a bagel comparison test next time out portland way!

  2. I am a native New yorker as well, and I generally agree with you – Kettleman’s has by far the best NY style bagels in Portland, but they’re not quite perfect. They aren’t dense enough for me and my partner, but they come close with their crustiness. My partner’s lactose intolerant, so I love that they have several vegan options for toppings at their stores; I’ve found this to be lacking in most other quick sandwich-type places around town, which is very sad. While I’m not vegan, I won’t spend my money going out with my grrrl someplace where she can’t eat!

  3. Pingback: Musings on New York Bagels « Get Sconed!·

  4. Great bagels, but the reason why I go there is for the Stumptown Coffee, which is by far, the best coffee around. I work in the Fox Tower and walking to Stumptown on 10th isn’t something I have time for on a regular basis, so my new favorite coffee joint is Kettlemans.

    I’m not sure if barista’s have been trained by Stumptown, but that would help. They do a good job, but there is always room for improvement.

    Great move with the Stumptown!

  5. I just got off the phone with a Kettlemen’s representative and they informed me that their blueberry bagels (and any bagel with cheese on top) are not vegan.

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