Long Beach Lunch: Mi Antigua Bagel Cafe
Sunflower bagel and lox
Don’t let the paintings of sea turtles on the concrete trash cans outside or the full-wall photographic murals of the former Guatemalan capital inside fool you — Mi Antigua does not serve Central American food. To be fair, the little shack tucked from street view through a nearly apocalyptic parking lot between the Popeyes and 7-Eleven on Long Beach Boulevard and 10th Street used to serve $2 pupusas, fresh caldo de pollo and mojarras fritas, but those times are gone.
These days the still-Guatemalan owner is using Mi Antigua instead as home base for Long Beach’s newest bagelry, which makes up for its recent move away from traditional fare by baking up to 10 different kinds of non-rubbery bagels a day and letting them comprise the outer layers to habit-forming breakfast and lunch sandwiches. The spot gets even more bonus points for running deliveries of it all ($15 minimum) as far as downtown’s waterfront and Signal Hill.
If you dined at Mi Antigua before the switch, you’ll probably notice a slight difference in its setup as a bagel-slinging cafe—Namely, the giant bagel oven placed in the front window, which drips with the rust of solid daily use. It’s a transplant from the owner’s previous bagel shop in Beverly Hills, which for years fed the American urge for carbs and cheese (and eggs and bacon and lox…) to everyone from UCLA students to hungry office drones toiling away in Mid-Wilshire.
Courtesy Mi Antigua
A service counter and register has been erected in a corner where a waiting area once stood. Inside the case — like at all good local bakeries — the day’s selections sing their flavors. There are donuts with the typical rainbow sprinkles and cinnamon sticks that are almost churro-like. Croissants are of the best, flakey, buttery French kind and the bear claws are coated in frosting, as big as an actual grizzly's paw.
The bagels, though, are what you’re looking for, even if they’re not trying to perfectly emulate that coveted New York-style (get over it purists). Puffed large as they’re allowed to expand into each other on the baking tray, Mi Antigua’s bagels are never dry (like most California-made bagels) and come in a bunch of novelty flavors that will convince you to break out of your normal order.For the everything-bagel advocate, there’s one with everything plus giant sunflower seeds. Jalepeños come baked into two different varieties. And an asiago spinach bagel has enough going on in the bread alone it might not even need cream cheese. Pizza bagels—a bialy slathered in tomato sauce with mushrooms and pepperoni baked inside a layer of cheese—are meant to be eaten without any additional toppings, like an adult-sized pizza Lunchable.
Prices start low, too: 75 cents for a single bagel, $2.25 if you want it with house-made whipped cream cheese. Breakfast sandwiches are under $5 and come with a pile of fluffy (not microwaved) scrambled eggs with your choice of meat. The lunch sandwiches are simple but well executed — tuna, turkey, egg salad — a standout being the nova lox, that’s higher quality, thicker cut and delicately cold smoked better than any other in Long Beach.
For $8, you can get a full lunch combo, with a bagel sandwich, chips and a drink (only $1 more for that lox). Or hell, buy a full baker’s dozen of Mi Antigua’s bagels and you’ll only be set back $9.50, a small price to pay for introducing the office to the kind of no-frills bagelry the city's been missing. Central American food sold separately.
1022 Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach; (562) 491-0011; miantigua.weebly.com
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