Where to find the best bagels in NYC
Ushered from the oven on oak dowels by the waitstaff, fresh bagels are annouced to the dining room with a shout of “hot bagels!” as they come through. The glossy, boiled-then-baked rounds, with toppings like salt and pepper or everything seasoning, are smaller than the average bagel making it perfectly acceptable to have more than one.
Russ & Daughters has been New York's pinnacle Jewish deli since 1914, serving lox, herring, bagels and other specialty foods out of their shop on the Lower East Side. Not only are the bagels stellar, but the bagel sandwiches are just as impressive like the Super Heeb with horseradish cream cheese, wasabi-flavored roe and sublime whitefish salad.
This neighborhood gem has been one-upping popular Upper West Side bagel establishments for years, serving freshly boiled bagels in their most perfect form. A respectable array of toppings includes cream cheeses (blueberry, sun-dried tomato, walnut-raisin), Tofutti, deli meats, salads and silky smoked fish—though we can happily tear into one of their bagels as is.
Large, crusty bagels with pillowy insides are hallmarks—along with an extended wait on their long lines—at this beloved shop, which launched in 1976 on 21st Street before expanding to Midtown East. Come prepared to choose between their 18 varieties of house-made cream cheese, from sweet (apple cinnamon, blueberry) to savory (sundried tomato, jalapeño).
This Nolita bagel shop has been getting a ton of buzz and not just for their hand-rolled and poached Montreal-style bagels and house-made spreads (scallion cream cheese, smoked mackerel). While they're menu is great as is, frequent collaborations with NYC's best chefs and restaurants have New Yorkers flocking for their inventive breakfast creations.
This Tribeca standby has been hand-rolling and kettle-boiling bagels since 1994 (they've even now expanded with locations on the UWS and in Grand Central). Choose between 18 types of smoked and pickled fishes from Acme, 16 cream cheese varieties (including four tofu-based ones) and 11 flavors of bagels.
The five-decade-old Fresh Meadows bagel maker offers firm, old-fashioned bagels that are kettle-boiled and then baked for a crunchy outer crust and moist inner chew. You can get this Queens landmark's hand-made rounds in flavors like egg-onion, everything and blueberry.
This legendary deli is a madhouse at breakfast and brunch and there's a good reason why. Their bagels are tender vesseks for the smoked fish platters, that are pricey but gargatuan. Same goes for the sandwiches that give you the option of packing it all on a bagel or a bialy.
This West Village standby—opened in 1996 by former Merrill Lynch VP Adam Pomerantz—turns out superlative bagels in 15 varieties (poppy, cinnamon raisin, sesame). The lines can be overwhelming but luckily the spot is able to crank through customers getting you a bagel and shmear faster than you can say Nova Scotia.
The Park Slope bagel counter specializes in hand-rolled, kettle-cooked bagels in 17 varieties (cinnamon raisin, pumpernickel, garlic), which you can trick out with a vibrant array of flavored cream cheeses (mixed berry, guacamole), smoked fish or with the bodega-breakfast-of-champions, bacon, egg and cheese.
Some bagel shops are in the business of wacky flavors—not this Gramercy storefront, which earned its ways into the upper echelons of New York bagels for its traditional rounds (salt, sesame, poppy), sporting crowd-pleasing chew factor and expert seasoning. Pick your poison and build your own sandwich with choices of deli meats and smoked fish galore.
Bialys may be the namesame at this historic Lower East Side Jewish bakery, which opened back in 1936, but the bagels stand up on their own as a reason to visit. Made in three stages—kettled boiled, baked on burlap boards and finished on stone—the bagels have a rich sweetness courtesy of pure malt syrup.
This century-old kosher spot has an old-world reputation for producing cutting-edge artisan breads. Though aside from the classic rye, the bagels bring a new-world flare to the table. Instead of the classic boiling and baking, they use a high-tech steam oven to get the same glossy finish on each soft beauty.
The old-fashioned boil-and-bake technique stays true in this diner upgrade. Small-batch batches of low-rising dough rings are set on burlap-covered boards and given a spin in a rotating tray oven, resulting in springy-yet-crusty vehicles for spreads like beet-horseradish, cucumber-dill and wasabi-tobiko cream cheeses.
Enjoy your morning coffee in this 25-seat East Village café while you get to enjoy the show of bakers boiling rings of dough in the open kitchen. The menu includes homemade lox and regular bagels, plus "old school" versions—smaller, chewier rounds made without the dough conditioners that lend latter-day bagels their fluffiness.