Why You Need to Know About Ruby’s Bagels

Ruby’s Bagels is a hole in one.

A couple of years ago, Daniela “Ruby” Varela was road-tripping to Cleveland with her boyfriend when they stopped for a breakfast of bagels and cream cheese. A pretty simple meal, but it turned into a lightbulb moment for Varela.

An avid cook and baker, she had never taken a crack at this yeast-raised, doughnut-shaped catalyst for cream cheese schmear ecstasy. After that trip, she made bread ring-crafting mastery her mission. A year or so later, with a solid recipe under her belt and a commercial kitchen where she could make the dough, hand-roll, proof, boil and bake, Ruby’s Bagels pop-up service was up and running.

Last year Varela got a call she didn’t expect, with an offer she never expected to take. It was from her friend, Jesús González, the man who’d created a taco oasis on Pittsburgh and First streets called Mazorca. He and his partner were filling vendor spots for the city’s first food truck park, Zócalo, and saw Ruby’s Bagels as the ideal incubator space — a new entrepreneur given the chance to test its concept.

From the get-go, Ruby’s chewy, tender, assertively seasoned bagels were a breakfast hit, especially slathered in hand-made cream cheeses — green onion and cheddar is my jam. Of Ruby’s six bagel varieties, rosemary sea salt is mind-blowing. During Zócalo’s first winter in business, look for Ruby not in her unheated truck but in the garage behind Zócalo, which also houses a bar. And fear not if you are one of the later arrivals on a given morn.

Varela bumps up her bagel supply at the end of the week, aiming for 180 on Thursdays and Fridays, and 300 on each weekend day. “I try not to sell out,” she says. “I want everyone to get a bagel!”


Ruby’s Bagels Zócalo Food Truck Park

636 S. Sixth St.
Hours: Wed-Sun 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s February issue

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.