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Black Seed Bagels
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

The 18 best bagels in NYC

These are the city’s finest any way you fill ‘em.

Written by
Time Out contributors
,
Bao Ong
&
Amber Sutherland-Namako
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Much like pizza, New York City bagels are the subject of yearslong debate, competition and consideration. Is it something in our water that makes them so special, and, what exactly are the ideal accoutrement to enjoy them in peak form? We’re gonna go with "maybe" and "whatever you wish, as long as you’re ordering from the very best bagel destinations in NYC." These are our favorite spots in the city now.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Bagels we love so much we welcomed them to Time Out Market

  • Time Out Market
  • DUMBO

Ess-a-Bagel has been a Manhattan staple since 1976, and local love for the family-owned business radiates throughout all of the five boroughs. Now, its expertly rolled, boiled and baked beauties are available right here in Brooklyn. Choose your own adventure with a doughy, fluffy everything, pumpernickel or cinnamon raisin bagel, and schmear it with all manner of decadent cream cheese options. Or, leave it to the experts and choose a sandwich from their curated menu of NYC faves.

Where to find the best bagels in NYC

  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • Queens
  • price 1 of 4

The six-decade-old Fresh Meadows bagel maker offers firm, old-fashioned bagels that are kettle-boiled and then baked for a crunchy outer crust and chewy interior. You can get this Queens landmark's hand-made rounds in flavors like egg-onion, everything and blueberry.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Upper West Side
  • price 1 of 4

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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Nolita
  • price 1 of 4

Black Seed bagel shop quickly generated a lot of buzz for its hand-rolled and poached Montreal-style bagels when it opened its first shop in Nolita in 2014. Today it has seven NYC locations where you’ll find its hit titular bagels, plus house-made spreads like scallion cream cheese and smoked mackerel. 

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  • Shopping
  • Grocery stores
  • Upper West Side
  • price 2 of 4

This Upper West Side institution—founded in 1934 by Louis Zabar, a Ukrainian immigrant—began as a smoked-fish shop. Now 20,000 square feet, the gourmet mecca boasts a wide selection of prepared kosher foods, coffee, cooking utensils and cheeses, as well its trademark bagels, made according to a signature house recipe that calls for malt barley flour

  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Lower East Side
  • price 1 of 4

Russ & Daughters has been New York's pinnacle appetizing store since 1914, serving lox, herring and bagels on the Lower East Side. The bagels, alone or in sandwich form, are stellar, and all made in Russ & Daughters’ Brooklyn factory.

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  • Restaurants
  • Harlem

Bo’s bagels opened its brick-and-mortar store in Harlem in 2017 after previously testing the waters with friends and family and as a pop-up operating out of a commercial kitchen. Pair its daily bakes with deli meats, cheese and cream cheese flavors like tofu scallion, maple walnut and berry almond.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Upper East Side
  • price 1 of 4

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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Upper East Side

Though the original H&H has since closed, the Upper East Side shop still churns out some NYC's best bagels, garnering a famous Seinfeld bit. Options like everything, cinnamon raisin and pumpernickel are kettle-boiled and baked to create a product “like no other bagel in the world.” H&H is named for founders Helmer Toro, who worked in Bronx bakeries after his family moved from Puerto Rico, and his brother-in-law Hector Hernandez.

  • Restaurants
  • Boerum Hill

Baskets of bagels, hand-written signs and a couple of tables fill this narrow space on its eponymous spot in Carroll Gardens. Choose from fresh baked onion, poppy, sesame and everything options and layer them with thick coats of cream cheese or breakfast and lunch sandwich fillings. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • Little Italy
  • price 1 of 4

The old-fashioned boil-and-bake technique stays true in this diner upgrade. Small-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.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Greenwich Village
  • price 1 of 4

This West Village standby has been slinging superlative bagels in several varieties (poppy, cinnamon raisin, sesame) since 1996. The lines can be overwhelming but luckily the spot is able to crank through customers getting you a bagel and schmear faster than you can say Nova Scotia.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Soho
  • price 3 of 4

Ushered from the oven on oak dowels by the waitstaff, fresh bagels are announced to the dining room with a shout of “hot bagels!” as they come through. The glossy, smaller than average, boiled-then-baked rounds come in varieties like everything and salt and pepper.

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  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • Lower East Side
  • price 1 of 4

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.

  • Restaurants
  • The Bronx

This Bronx shop is approaching 30 years in operation in its narrow storefront on Riverdale Avenue. It has a dozen different daily baked bagel varieties, a bunch of breakfast and lunch sandwich options and oodles of baked goods like muffins, cinnamon rolls and danishes. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

Tompkins Square Bagel’s menu includes the expected options like plain, poppy and pumpernickel bagels, plus specialty selections like French toast and chocolate chip. Sandwich ‘em or select from fruit or nut spreads and all manner of cream cheese options. 

  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • Park Slope
  • price 1 of 4

This Park Slope bagel counter specializes in hand-rolled, kettle-cooked bagels in varieties like cinnamon raisin, pumpernickel and garlic. Adorn them in a vibrant array of flavored cream cheeses (mixed berry, guacamole), smoked fish or with the bodega-breakfast-of-champions, bacon, egg and cheese.

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