Mister Bagel: Breakfast and More

23/Noviembre/2012 | 14:49

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Bagels have a long and interesting history dating back to at least the 17th century.  But, what makes these donut-shaped breads most interesting in Quito is that only one establishment – Mister Bagel - has been making them for 20 years, offering an unmatched dining experience in the capital city.

Hugh Gillis, founder of Mister Bagel, opened the first store in 1995 on Portugal Street after years of making bagels out of his home.  Maurice Romero opened the first Mister Bagel franchise 18 months ago on Luis Cordero, near Swissotel, and has received more than a warm reception.  He reports 30% growth from a year ago. 

And Gillis says Quito can expect a third location in the near future as interest in franchising the business is growing.

Despite their rarity in South America, Gillis says making bagels is not a mystery.  He offers a few parameters as to how to do it: “flower, sugar, salt, water, and yeast…it is mixed, leavened, boiled, and baked.” But he has enough variations to create seventeen different bagels, from whole wheat to blueberry, and even a local Andean version: quinoa.  

Despite the fact that bagel-making machines have been around for fifty years, Gillis says he continues to make his bagels by hand.   He adds that all bagels are produced at the main location to control quality, so diners get the same bagel no matter which location they frequent.

And though bagels will keep longer than traditional bread, the eye popping displays of bagel baskets are filled with only fresh bagels.  You can ask for day-old bagels at a discount ($.50 versus $.75) but by the third day all are converted into bagel chips (200 gram bag sells for $1.50), which is one of the many, small changes that has turned Mister Bagel into more than just a breakfast place.

Beyond Breakfast

The menu at Mister Bagel has grown slowly over the years to keep up with customer demand for lunch options.  A steady flow of customers are seen at midday and throughout the afternoon looking for salads, sandwiches, soups, and desserts. 

Mister Bagel has always offered a traditional lox (cured salmon with cream cheese) and a tuna option alongside pizza bagels, a BLT, and sandwiches made with chicken or ham and cheese.  But the one thing they were missing was a heavier, meatier option, until now. 

“We had a lot people coming in looking for some kind of meat sandwich,” says Gillis, so he gave them what they asked for, a new roast beef bagel.

Additionally, as the holidays approach, look for Mister Bagel´s turkey bagel during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The popularity of Gillis’s bagel chips lead him to offer a new “chips and salsa” menu item, with an in-house dip  made of tomato, onion, and jalapeño chili pepper, adjusted to fit each customer’s tolerance for spiciness (see recipe on this page).

And Gillis’s American heritage shows through in the apple pie (a la mode if you wish), which you can buy by the slice or order (in advance) whole to take home. 

Coffee Central

The one change that has had perhaps the biggest impact is the universal drink that goes with just about everything: coffee.

After years of serving excellent coffee, Gillis got even more serious not just about the quality of their bean but the way they prepare it. 

Mister Bagel uses two local brands – Café Velez and Passion de Express – both grown in the region around Loja in southern Ecuador.  And they utilize two different machines – one for extraction where they prepare espressos, cappuccinos, and mochaccinos using Velez coffee, and an infusion machine using Passion de Express for the American coffee. 

“Velez came in and provided training on the preparation,” says Gillis.  As a result, Mister Bagel has made adjustments throughout their process, turning what was a good cup of coffee into a great one. 

And what goes well with a great cup of coffee (besides a bagel or slice apple pie) is a good book.  A tradition as old as Mister Bagel’s bagels is their book exchange.

Gillis says, “The book exchange works like this:  Bring a book. Eat something. Then you can exchange a book.”  The books are not for sale.  “Eighty percent of the books we have were donations from people leaving the country and they feel comfortable doing that because they know I am not going to profit from them.   So it is an additional service we offer, as is WIFI .” 

With the right combination of unique food, great coffee, and a way to enjoy them without having to rush, we hope to see more Mister Bagel locations throughout the city.

Visit Mister Bagel on Portugal, near 6 de diciembre, Monday through Friday, 7am-7pm, or Saturday and Sunday from 7:30am to 3pm.  For more information call 224-0978.

The Cordero location, between 12 de octubre and Tamayo (cattycorner and half a block down from Swissotel) is open Monday-Friday, 7:30am-6:30pm, and Saturday 8am-3pm.  Call them at 223-9729.




Olive oil, 1 tablespoon

White onion, 40 grams (half an onion)

Garlic, 1 clove

Tomato, 100 grams (medium size)

Jalapeño pepper, 4 slices

Salt, 3/4 teaspoon

Sugar, ½ teaspoon

Celery leaf, (disinfected)

Bagel chips 100 gr (half bag from Mister Bagel)


- In a frying pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil

- Add white onion cut into large chunks and stir for two minutes.

- Add cut tomato and finely chopped garlic.  Fry two minutes more.

- Add the jalapeño pepper, removing the seeds if you prefer less spice. Heat two more minutes.

- Remove from heat and place all ingredients in a blender for ONLY a few seconds so the salsa has a uniform, chunky consistency.

- Refrigerate mixture for 20 minutes before serving

- Serve in round plate on top of Cesar salad dish, with chips.  Decorate with sauce and additional slice of jalapeño, two fiesta tomatoes and celery leaf.

Note: If clients wish to have a spicier dip, add 2-4 additional slices of jalapeño to the mixture.



Ciudad Quito

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