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BLACK SEED everything bagel beet-cured salmon horseradish cream cheese radish herbs
Photograph: Courtesy Paul Wagtouicz

The best bagels in NYC

These shops serve everything from a classic lox-and-schmear to composed sandwiches

By Time Out contributors and Bao Ong

March 2021: It may not have seemed possible, but over the last year New Yorkers have fallen even more in love with their beloved bagels. Offering both an affordable meal option at a time when many are trying to save money and a perfect to-go meal that you can eat outside while social distancing (not to mention one that provides a lot of comfort during anxious times) there's an argument to be made that this was the moment bagels were made for. But isn't that every moment, really? Here are our favorite spots in the city right now.

Of all its signature foodstuffs—pastrami sandwiches, New York pizza—the best bagels in nyc are arguably the most synonymous with real New Yorkers' diets. We take these baked beauties and schmear them with cream cheese concoctions, layer them with smoked fish galore and even occasionally throw an egg on top. That's why there is never a day that we don't want to load up on dozens from the city’s best delis or bakeries. After careful deliberation and plenty of schmear we've settled on this list of our favorites. Here’s where to get the best bagels in NYC.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Where to find the best bagels in NYC

Photograph: Courtesy Facebook/ Tal Bagels

1. Tal Bagels

Restaurants Upper West Side

Tal Bagels is by no means the most calming bagel experience in New York—for that, head to High Street on Hudson or Sadelle'sBut OG New Yorkers know that they're best eaten hunched over on park bench or at a bagelry counter top. Ever found yourself with a hangover forced to bring out-of-towners to the Natural History Museum? Us neither. But if you do, Tal's will be your savior. 

Photograph: Courtesy Facebook/ H&H Bagels

2. H&H Bagels

Restaurants Upper East Side

Though the original location has since closed, the Upper East Side shop still churns out some New York's best bagels, garnering a Seinfeld nod. While some bagels in New York are more often associated with the Jewish community, H&H was actually founded by Puerto Ricans Helmer Toro and his brother-in-law Hector Hernandez (hence the name).

Absolute Bagels
Photograph: Filip Wolak

3. Absolute Bagels

Restaurants Bakeries Upper West Side

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.

Murray’s Bagels
Photograph: Laura Gallant

4. Murray’s Bagels

Restaurants Bakeries Greenwich Village

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.

Zucker's Bagels
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

5. Zucker’s Bagels

Restaurants Bakeries Financial District

This Tribeca staple 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.

Photograph: Courtesy Laura Gallant

6. Ess-a-Bagel

Restaurants Bakeries Midtown East

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).

BLACK SEED poppy-seed bagel with scallion cream cheese cucumber watermelon radish capers
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

7. Black Seed

Restaurants Bakeries Nolita

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 their menu is great as is, frequent collaborations with NYC's best chefs and restaurants have New Yorkers flocking for their inventive breakfast creations. 

Bagel Oasis
Photograph: Laura Gallant

8. Bagel Oasis

Restaurants Delis Queens

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.

Assorted bagels at Baz Bagel
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

9. Baz Bagels

Restaurants Delis Little Italy

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.

Photograph: Filip Wolak

10. Zabar's

Shopping Grocery stores Upper West Side

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 with malt barley flour according to a signature house recipe. Time Out tip: Don't want to weigh your arms down with bagels for you and your hungover friends? They deliver!


11. High Street on Hudson

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants American West Village

At some restaurants, bread is an afterthought—baskets of chalky, uninspired dinner rolls shuffled out with chilled, foil-wrapped butter. This is not that restaurant, and it’s certainly not that bread. Melissa Weller, formerly of Sadelle's, brings her bagel experience to this West Village destination, where she is now a partner. 

12. Frankel’s Delicatessen & Appetizing

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants American Greenpoint

Raised on Jewish-food landmarks like Barney Greengrass and Zabar’s, brother-owners and Upper West Side natives Zach and Alex Frankel (former chef at Jack’s Wife Freda and half of Brooklyn synth-pop duo Holy Ghost!, respectively) preserve the traditions of their lox-peddling elders with menschy earnestness. There are no revisionist latkes or molecular-gastro matzo balls here—just the deli staples they, and New York, grew up on. The malt-sweet, hand-rolled bagels come from Baz.

Russ & Daughters
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

13. Russ & Daughters

Shopping Specialist food and drink Lower East Side

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.

14. Sadelle’s

Restaurants American Soho

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's perfectly acceptable to have more than one.

Kossar's Bagels
Photograph: Laura Gallant

15. Kossar’s Bialys

Restaurants Delis Lower East Side

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.

Orwashers Bagel
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jeff O.

16. Orwasher’s Bakery

Restaurants Bakeries Upper East Side

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.

Tompkins Square Bagels
Photograph: Laura Gallant

17. Tompkins Square Bagels

Restaurants Bakeries East Village

Returning to the bagel-making days of his high-school years, Christopher Pugliese, an eight-year vet of Sushi Samba, opens this 25-seat East Village café. Sip Stumptown coffee and watch bakers boil rings of dough in an 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.

Bagel Pub
Photograph: Laura Gallant

18. Bagel Pub

Restaurants Delis Park Slope

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.

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