Six Chicago Magazine contributors reflected on an “incredibly delicious year” before compiling a list of the dishes they simply “couldn’t stop thinking about” in 2020. The Daly Bagel, 130 Chicago Ave., earned a notable position on the tight list of 27 dishes published on Nov. 9 — the team of food-focused writers singled out the boutique bagel shop’s sandwich called “The Ultimate.”
“This came as a complete and utter surprise,” said Adrienne Guldin, kitchen manager at the bagel shop. “We had no idea it was happening, and I think we’re still a little shocked, but we’re proud that we rose to the top in such a wide field of deliciousness in the entire Chicagoland area.”
After some quick calculations, Guldin figured The Daly Bagel had served nine times more Ultimate sandwiches in the week the article came out than the shop had sold during the entire month of October; at one point the shop sold out of whitefish spread. Amanda Daly, owner of The Daly Bagel, was not surprised by the huge increase in sales.
“Oh my gosh, all I’ve heard customers saying this week is, ‘The Ultimate, The Ultimate, The Ultimate,” said Daly who learned about honor from her sister-in-law. “So much of everything that has happened with this shop has happened because people who come in talk us up. It been so humbling.”
The article declared, “the chewy New York–style bagels at this Oak Park spot are hands down the best in the area” before highlighting the specific sandwich. A celebration of traditional flavors, The Ultimate features smoked whitefish pate from Soft Wave Fish Co. on a freshly baked bagel garnished with pickled onions and fresh cucumber. Daly met the fish purveyor at the Riverside Farmers Market and opts to use Soft Wave’s spread as a much-needed time saver in an already labor-intensive business.
The Ultimate joins Vigan Longganisa from Boonie Foods, the 12-Layer German Chocolate Cake from Moody Tongue Brewery and the Olive-Oil-Poached Mackerel from Table, Donkey and Stick among others.
“So much of what The Daly Bagel has become is about other people,” said Daly. “This is about our staff and our customers. This recognition is something we share with the community.”
More bliss for The Daly Bagel
After trying more than 30 untoasted bagels in Chicagoland Nick Kindelsperger, food writer at the Chicago Tribune, declared most bagels in the area to be “soft, fluffy and bland.” Ten bagels, however, rose to the top of the field and Kindelsperger ranked them in an article published Nov. 15.
Oak Park’s The Daly Bagel slid in to the tenth slot on the list.
Kindelsperger noted bagels “taste best within a few hours of baking” and tasted a plain and everything offering in the privacy of his own car immediately after purchase.
The article said several suburban bagel shops were left off the list because of the sheer strength of the bagels offered in the city, but The Daly Bagel proved to be a suburban standout.
Kindelsperger said, “the gleaming white shop is one of the most inviting storefronts to score a bagel in the area. The bagels themselves are just the right size, with a light and crackly crust and a chewy inside.”
Melissa Elsmo, Oak Park Eats Editor