What’s the secret to a successful downtown Dallas bagel shop launch? For Starship Bagel, the latest addition to the Dallas’ bagel shops, it’s about having all the right ingredients: a prime location and perfect bagels.
Salomon opened the second outpost of Starship Bagel, his Lewisville-based shop, in downtown Dallas in January. As if to challenge side-eye skeptics, it is situated across from The Joule, under the watchful gaze of the giant eyeball sculpture.
In the first month of his new downtown Dallas location, dozens lined up every weekend for his New York-style bagels and a healthy dollop of fermented jalapeño schmear. Salomon says he was shocked to find that demand for bagels in downtown was sky high, because up until a few years ago, he says a decent bagel was hard to find in Dallas.
Six years ago, Salomon learned to make bagels for himself and his friends, but then those friends started paying him to make them out of his tiny home kitchen. He later ran a pop-up, Oren’s Bagels, out of a church kitchen for about six months from 2017 to 2018, selling Montreal-style bagels to the community.
Montreal-style bagels are denser and sweeter than New York-style bagels, thanks to the honey used in the bread. They also are significantly thinner and smaller at about two ounces, in comparison to a four- to six-ounce New York-style bagel. In Montreal, bagels are likely to be ripped apart and dunked into cream cheese.
For two years, Salomon worked in commercial real estate after being told that the restaurant industry would be too tough to break into. But making bagels was the one thing he felt he was good at, he says.
“It was the thing that made me happier than anything else I’d ever done,” he says. “And there’s just something about feeding people that’s so rewarding to me.”
Salomon left his job in 2019 and staged at Boichik Bagels in Berkeley, California, where he perfected the boil and bake for crunchy, glossy New York-style bagels with thick, chewy interiors. He decided to jump into the restaurant industry with Starship Bagel in Lewisville in 2020. The shop took off, and he hasn’t looked back.
At Starship, the seasonings, whether it’s everything, poppyseed, Italian, or onion, are packed on both sides of the bagel, so there isn’t a bad side or a bad bite. One of the most popular schmears is that fermented jalapeño, a sweet, sour, and spicy cream cheese that spreads perfectly over a slice. Try to snag a tub when you can, because the schmear develops deeper and more complex flavors as the jalapeños continue to ferment.
In addition to schmears, Starship has bagel sandwiches with lox, cucumber, or avocado. Both Starship Bagel locations are completely kosher, so you won’t find a bacon, egg, and cheese option here—those can be found about a block away at Parterre, which uses Starship bagels for their breakfast sandwiches.
But Salomon is confident that his bagels are delicious all on their own.
“That’s why the bagel in our name is singular instead of being Starship Bagels,” he says. “We think the bagel is already perfect as is. It doesn’t really need anything to modify it.”
The Lewisville location has places to sit down and enjoy your bagel, while Starship in downtown Dallas serves bagels like a real New York shop: to-go and untoasted. (You can ask to have your bagel warmed up.) Starship closes at 1 p.m. because Salomon says bagels are a breakfast food, but customers run over to gather until then on any given day to grab a bite.
Oftentimes Salomon says he spot two people chatting in front of the bagel stand as they wait for orders. He notices, slowly but surely, that there was a need for a place in downtown Dallas like Starship.
“It’s just magical to observe,” he says. “I’m really happy that these people are lining up for my product, but I’m even more happy that the community gets something like this because it really wanted it.”
This story originally appeared in the April issue of D Magazine with the headline, “Schmear Campaign.” Write to [email protected].