Morning Matters

Monica Dimas Plans New York–Style Bagel Counter on Capitol Hill

The Future of the Manu's Bodegita and Little Uncle Space on Madison: Westman's Bagels and Coffee.

By Allecia Vermillion July 27, 2017

Shutterstock 622530596 z9psbp

Fine, this is just a generic image of a bagel. But imagine the possibilities. Image via Shutterstock.

I've been wondering what the future holds for that walkup counter at 1509 East Madison, the one with the august lineage that includes Baguette, Little Uncle, and Manu's Bodegita. The future, apparently, is a place of bagels, schmears, lox, and bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches.

Monica Dimas keeps plenty busy on Capitol Hill with her Tortas Condesa, Neon Taco, and Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches counters—not to mention the Lil Neon Taco set to open on First Hill this September. But she couldn't resist taking over the space when Manu Alfau decided to focus on his Pioneer Square projects (man, every time I pass by Manu's Tacos, that place is hopping). But...what to do with this tiny, awkwardly shaped sliver of a spot?

The answer came during a visit to New York, a city that takes its morning carbs very seriously. A friend floated the idea of bagels and coffee. Then, says Dimas, she delayed her flight home: "I needed to have a bacon egg and cheese. I wasn’t hung over; I just needed to have it." That a humble breakfast sandwich could wield that kind of power solidified her plan.

A mutual friend connected Dimas with Molly Westman, a baker at Macrina with dreams of doing a bagel project. "The love that I have for bagels is why I went to pastry school in the first place," says Westman. She's from South Florida—a place that rivals New York in its love for Jewish delis and ritualistic bagel outings. Westman promises her bagels will be "a nice, big, glossy, chewy experience" in flavors like rye, pumpernickel, sesame, and the classic everything combo. You can grab a bagel sandwich, an everything with cream cheese and lox, or bag up a dozen and take them back to your place with a tub of schmear to do with it as you will.

The working name is Westman's Bagels and Coffee; the latter part refers to the Caffe Vita espresso to be poured here. Dimas rejects the unspoken NYC tradition that good bagels and good coffee are mutually exclusive, especially in Seattle. Westman will also bake rolls in-house for a traditional bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. She and Dimas will codirect the menu; they're already plotting a legit bialy.

Housemade rolls and general culinary proclivities aside, Dimas says prices won't stray into gourmet avocado toast territory: "I don't want it to be fancy." Westman's is slated to open in late September, around the same time Dimas will launch her second Neon Taco outpost.

Though the bagelry's space is limited indeed, a slight reconfiguration should yield at least a few indoor stools where you might sit with your coffee and bagel and ponder the traffic that whizzes by on Madison. Or, perhaps, whether this little grab-and-go spot will end the persistent complaint that Seattle has no good New York–style bagels.

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