Portland’s most underrated bagel shop — likely Portland’s best bagel shop — is opening a second location on N. Russell, Portland Monthly first reported. Bernstein’s Bagels, the tiny St. Johns cafe serving straight-outta-LES bagels, will take over the Mint cocktail bar space in December, a new, gloriously central location for Portland’s bagel enthusiasts.
Five times the space of the original St. Johns cafe, Bernstein’s 2.0 will have somewhere between 25 and 30 seats, including booths and a bar in the window. Owners Noah Bernstein and Peter Hurteau have handled the design themselves, keeping the kitchen linear and handing over the walls to artist Melanie Nead — those familiar with the original cafe will recognize her bouquets of everything spice, hand-painted on the walls; she’s doing a new interpretation for inside of the new storefront.
For now, the menus will remain basically identical — house-made bagels in a set of traditional flavors, including weekend pumpernickel, as well as bagel sandwiches topped with prosciutto and creative schmears. In the future, however, the two have dabbled with ideas like house whitefish (very New York deli of them), as well as things like breakfast cocktails and pizza bagels. But really, the cafe’s plain-old everything bagel is where it’s at: Its exterior is dotted with currents of tiny bubbles, evidence of a crust somewhere just before crunchy; its interior is light, but still substantial; it can stand up to hard-hitting flavor bombs like lox or almost gratuitous swipes of cream cheese, sturdy and coated in the everything basics. Add a shake of free za’atar if you need even more pizazz.
Bernstein’s Bagels original location, which opened in 2017, has lived off the radar long enough that it remains a neighborhood haunt, but the cafe has begun to feel small. The building that houses the sliver of a bagel shop recently went on the market, and the two owners found the former Mint/820 Lounge space as a possible new location. It’s still unclear what will happen when the bagel shop’s lease ends in 2019; until then, the two cafes will run simultaneously. “In a perfect world, the building doesn’t sell, we get to stay and hang out there every day; we love St. Johns,” Bernstein said. “Worst case scenario, it gets sold, it becomes something dumb, and we have a beautiful spot on N Russell.” Bernstein’s plans to open its new location December 12.
• Bernstein’s Bagels [Official]
• Bernstein’s Bagels Poised to Break Big with Second Location on N Russell [PoMo]
• Bernstein’s Bagels Begins Boiling in St. Johns [EPDX]
• One of Portland’s Most Important Cocktail Bars Just Closed [EPDX]
• 12 Portland Bagels to Make You Forget All About New York, Mapped [EPDX]