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Battle of the Bagels

Something about the new restaurant in Armstrong seemed uncomfortably familiar. It serves sandwiches -- bagel sandwiches, to be exact. Bagels sliced in half and filled with an assortment of meats, eggs, veggies, cheese and sauces.

The Toasted Bagel, in effect, was a new version of Bagel and Deli, the popular late-night Uptown establishment home to such famed dishes as the Get Swanked and the meatball-heavy Squid.

I'm no stranger to B&D. If it weren't for my tendency to opt for the same two or three bagels every time I go, by this point in my Miami career I probably could have earned one of the t-shirts announcing that I'd tried everything on the menu. I knew that The Toasted Bagel was most likely a cheap knockoff, an assembly-line style, meal-plan-accepting, low-quality attempt by Miami to compete with the divine glory tucked in between Skippers and the Den.

But my curiosity got the best of me. What if, somehow, The Toasted Bagel offered a sandwich that could compete with the heavenly quality of the Dank 'n' Eggs or the MILF Bagel?

I had to know for sure.

Monday afternoon, I sat in the newsroom with two sandwiches before me. From The Toasted Bagel, I'd swiped my Miami ID for a Turkey Club -- turkey, lettuce, cheese, tomato, onion, honey mustard and avocado on an everything bagel. From Bagel and Deli, I'd used real money to purchase the great one, B&D's crowning glory, the holy grail of bagel sandwiches: the Doritos-adorned Crunch and Munch. Turkey, cheese, lettuce, honey mustard and nacho cheese Doritos on an everything. A perfect counterpart? No. But close enough for the purpose of my research.

From looks alone, I could tell that the original Bagel would prevail. It sat, steaming hot, wrapped in tin foil and cocooned in an unassuming, grease-spotted paper bag. When unsheathed, it oozed a pungent concoction of cheese, sauce and moist turkey.

The turkey club, on the other hand, was organized neatly within a plastic container, stacked with the faux imperfection of an advertisement-quality Big Mac. Next to the Crunch and Munch, it felt cold and rubbery, too glossy for its own good.

Its taste, however, caught me pleasantly off guard, like an Adam Sandler movie that's actually slightly watchable. Its consistency matched its stale appearance, but it bursted with flavor, accented nicely by the creamy avocado. In contrast to B&D's grease monster, it went down quite refreshingly.

But despite its surprising taste, The Toasted Bagel still finished a not-so-close second to the classic Crunch and Munch. After taking an obligatory couple bites of each, I shifted gradually back to the Dorito-infused behemoth, eventually finishing it and packing the turkey club away for later. It might offer an unexpectedly tasty alternative, but Armstrong's newest addition will never replace the Uptown staple.

You simply can't beat a classic.