It’s difficult for me to think of New York City and then not immediately think of bagels. Just like yellow taxi cabs, bagels are a fixture of New York culture and have a rich history here! The concept of the bagel actually originated on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The bagel was created as a filling, tasty, inexpensive treat for Jewish immigrants living in Manhattan in the 1800s and can trace its origins to the bagels made by the Ashkenazi Jews of Poland. Today the bagel is New York’s answer to the perfect on-the-go breakfast or hangover remedy!
Chewy and dense with a thin crisp crust – a New York-style bagel is always boiled in water that has had barley malt added into it, which gives the NYC bagel its signature taste, texture, and leathery skin. Some also say that the distinct taste that differentiates NYC bagels from other cities is the fact that the water in New York City is “hard” water, which is high in dissolved minerals! The soho staple of Sadelle’s recently expanded to my hometown of Dallas, Texas and they fly in New York tap water so that their bagels made in-house taste the exact same as NYC’s! Montréal and New York City supposedly have a feud on which style of bagel is the best. While I might be biased, I’ve been on a walking food tour in Montréal and tried their top two offerings.. and let me just say, there is no real competition!
My standard bagel order is an everything bagel with chive cream cheese accompanied by a cinnamon raisin bagel with plain cream cheese – both always toasted + buttered! That way I’m getting my savory AND sweet fix. If I’m a bit hungover, it might be a sausage, egg and cheese. It’s quite easy to find bagels in New York City as you can probably find one on every other block. But finding an exceptional bagel is a different story!
Here is my list of favorite bagel spots in the city that are cranking out exceptional ones!
- *Black Seed Bagels (Nolita) – My personal favorite bagel joint is none other than Black Seed! I think their taste and chewiness is superior – and the size is just perfect enough that you can have two! Their breakfast and lunch sandwiches are also equally as delicious. There’s a reason there are now seven locations in the city now!
- Murray’s Bagels (Greenwich Village) – Classic New York-style bagels in Greenwich Village offered with an array of spreads & smoked fish & an all-day deli menu. They offer “flatties” for a low-carb option!
- Bagel Bob’s (Union Square) – Bustling mainstay turning out straightforward, old-school bagels in a counter-serve setting.
- Hudson Bagels (West Village) – Offering larger bagels than most, they also have quite an array of bagel flavors and cream cheese options!
- *Saddelle’s (Soho) – Bagles on a stick! Smoked fish, housemade bagels & other appetizing fare are offered in a buzzy, vintage-style spot. If you’re planning on catering brunch for a party, they have a great option for catering with dozens of bagels, schmears and dips!
- Tal Bagels (Upper East Side) With multiple locations across Manhattan and too many cream cheese options to count, Tal Bagels has earned itself a reputation as one of New York’s favorite bagelries with hot bagels and fast service.
- Ess-a-Bagel (Upper West Side) – They’ve been a Manhattan staple since 1976, and local love for the family-owned business radiates throughout all of the five boroughs.
- *Tompkins Square Bagels (East Village) – A love letter to the East Village, Tompkins Square Bagels is a favorite of many in NYC!
- Russ & Daughter (Lower East Side) – Family-owned shop offering high-end smoked fish, caviar & New York-style specialty foods since 1914. The Russ & Daughters Cafe opened in 2014, on the 100th anniversary of Russ & Daughters. After a century in which generations of customers patiently waited in line at the store; it was time to give everyone a place to sit down!
- Zucker’s Bagels (Tribeca) – This Lower Manhattan staple makes bagels the old-fashioned way: hand-rolled and kettle-boiled! By partnering with the country’s most respected makers: Acme Smoked Fish, La Colombe Coffee, Guss’ Pickles, and others, Zuckers is creating the city’s most delicious bagel sandwiches!
- Orwashers Bakery (Upper East Side) – Long-running artisanal bread maker also stocking cookies, sweets & a selection of gourmet foods. Orwashers has been listed among the top ten bakeries in America!
- Baz Bagel (Little Italy) – A charming neighborhood bagel shop and full-service restaurant
specializing in hand-rolled bagels and Jewish comfort fare in a cheery space with retro touches!
Have you been to New York City and tried an NYC-style bagel before? If so, what’s your favorite bagel in the city? I’m all ears to hear your favorite so be sure to let me know! While I do love a pure, plain bagel, the bagel sandwich is almost in a whole different league — I might need to have a write-up on that! Keep you posted!