New York City has always been considered the bagel Mecca of the United States. Chicago, though, is inching in on NYC's long-standing reign over the title, thanks in no small part to Bagel on Damen. Co-created by Dion Antic, the man who brought Chicago the breakfast hot-spot, Toast, Bagel on Damen is a no-frills morning meal destination that puts some interesting spins on the traditional bagel sandwich.
One of the more adventurous menu options takes form in The Seahog ($8.95), a sandwich featuring a rather unexpected combination of ingredients that's surprisingly delightful. Bagel on Damen starts with a toasted sesame bagel, boiled and baked off site that morning to ensure maximum freshness. An almost excessive dollop of green onion cream cheese is then slathered on both sides of the bagel. And for the filler: lox, bacon, avocado and basil leaves. But rather than the cacophony of flavors that one might expect from such a combination, the sandwich proves to be a rather refreshing. The lox and cream cheese are the dominant flavors, while the bacon adds an extra hint of salt. The basil is uncharacteristically muted, and the smooth avocado slices mix up the texture. All together, it's a crisp meal that's perfectly portable for outdoor grazing in the park on a warm, sunny day.