Get us in your inbox

Ess-a-bagel line nyc
Photograph: Shutterstock

10 things New Yorkers overhear while on line for a bagel

Including an old-school New Yorker informing an employee that their bagel has too much lox.

Written by
Kristen Perrone

It’s not a perfect Sunday morning in New York City until you stroll over to the deli or even a famous local joint to pick up the breakfast of champions—coffee and the expertly curated bagel order of your preference. Whether it’s a toasted everything or a BEC on a roll that fuels the rest of your day, sometimes what you notice on line at a New York bagel store is as worthwhile as the

These are some of the unique things you might overhear while waiting for a bagel order.

1. A tourist being unaccustomed to so many options

A New Yorker’s three basic food groups are pizza, diner cuisine, and bagels. When it comes to these delicacies, other places rarely measure up, so it’s understandable if visitors are dumbfounded at the endless possibilities of what to order. Expect to be asked for recommendations if you end up behind these people in line and try to reserve judgment if they still stick with their buttered bagel.

2. Parents giving their toddler free range of what to order

A plain bagel may satisfy a lot of children, but city kids are a different breed. Look out for the ones who will order a smoked salmon bagel without batting an eye before asking for a sip of a parent’s coffee.

3. A customer wanting to supervise what goes on their bagel

Every bagel line has an old-school New Yorker who isn’t shy about knowing exactly what they like. They shuffle along the counter as their bagel is prepared, inform an employee if it has too much lox, and personally select the corner of the cream cheese vat they’d like a helping from.

4. A large group still making changes to their order after they’ve reached the counter

The risk of getting a bagel at peak hours is waiting behind people placing a group order yet somehow never finalizing it before they reach the cashier. It’s not a true bagel odyssey unless someone is yelling across the store for the family member who wandered away before letting anyone know he wanted an elusive blueberry bagel.

5. Someone complaining about the long line, only to order a black coffee

New Yorkers are characteristically impatient, so it’s common to see people rolling their eyes at an endless bagel line. However, when the antsiest of these people only ends up getting the plainest coffee possible, you have to admit that the locals might have a slight problem with patience.

6. Other customers judging the finished orders

Despite the variety of options, city folks can still be pretty traditional when it comes to what kind of bagels they eat. When staff calls out a specific order, it’s not unusual for another hangry customer to announce how they feel about chicken salad on a flagel or extra capers in your sandwich. The go-to deflectors of sunglasses and headphones will help you dodge their concerns about your cholesterol as you leave the store.

7. Preteens ordering something that you can’t even stomach

Encountering tweens is daunting no matter where you are, but middle schoolers in a bagel shop can sometimes make you feel like an inadequate adult. Between their natural independence and their expansive palates from growing up in the city, these kids have no fear of ordering the deluxe bagel spreads containing ingredients that you’re still too intimidated to eat.

8. College students gossiping about their wild night out

Nothing quite complements a hangover like a salty bagel and the spilling of early-morning tea. Even if your night was spent at home, you’ll live vicariously through the twenty-somethings dissecting their shenanigans before they order Gatorades and egg sandwiches.

9. Someone seemingly stocking up on bagels in case of the apocalypse

Spot this person requesting a handful of every bagel flavor available and leaving with a stuffed paper bag the size of their head. How big can the apartment freezer storing all of this food possibly be?

10. The regular coming prepared with their usual order and exact change

We should all aspire to be this accommodating on a busy morning at the bagel place. These people make everyone else’s lives a little easier by ordering quickly, paying precisely with cash, and moving to the side in the blink of an eye.

Popular on Time Out

    More on city identity

      You may also like
      You may also like