Sesame bagel with tobiko-caviar spread at Black Seed
Bagels at Baz Bagel & Restaurant
"Everything Brooklyn Bagel" pizza at Heartwood
Jerusalem bagel at Bar Bolonat
Don’t call it a comeback—bagels have been here for years, a much-welcome contribution from late-19th-century Polish Jewish immigrants. Yet despite how deeply the bagel’s become woven into our city’s fabric, its handcrafted heyday ended in the ’60s with the advent of automated bagel-making machines. That spawned five decades of far too many steam-baked, dough-conditioned pucks, puffier than an aging screen star’s face and stripped of taste and tradition. Now the New York bagel is returning to form, with a batch of fresh-baked, high-powered shops giving the icon its due.
At newfangled Nolita bagelry Black Seed(170 Elizabeth St between Kenmare and Spring Sts, 212-730-1950), from Mile End deli-case remixer Noah Bernamoff and The Smile impresario Matt Kliegman, the ambitious, hand-rolled rounds merge two disciplines: They’re honey-enhanced à la Bernamoff’s native Montreal, but with an eggless, touch-of-salt bite to satisfy lifelong Gothamite Kliegman. Kettle-boiled and wood-fired, the small but mighty bagels are crowned with house-made toppings both classic (scallion cream cheese, silky cold-smoked salmon) and fanciful (salty tobiko caviar, crisp watermelon radishes).
Bari Musacchio—Rubirosa’s longtime general manager—is also tackling the old-fashioned boil-and-bake technique at nearby diner upgrade Baz Bagel & Restaurant (181 Grand St between Centre and Mulberry Sts, 212-335-0609). Partnering with Barney Greengrass vet David Heffernan, Musacchio’s operation is, like in the olden days, small-batch and labor-intensive: Slow-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 the house nova-and-chive spread.
Meanwhile, bread savant Melissa Weller, the Per Se and Roberta’s vet behind Smorgasburg’s acclaimed East River Bagels, will continue her own bagel redemption tale at an in-the-works shop with Carbone heavy hitters Rich Torrisi, Mario Carbone and Jeff Zalaznick. Expect tangy, sourdough-based discs schmeared with housemade cream cheeses made from primo dairy products.
The bagel boom doesn’t stop at deli standards—riffs are showing up on new restaurant menus all over town. All-star team Nick Mautone (Gramercy Tavern), Mark Fiorentino (Daniel) and James Beard Award winner Bradford Thompson (Miss Lily’s) fire up a brick-oven “Everything Brooklyn Bagel” pie at their upmarket Chelsea pizzeria, Heartwood (184 Eighth Ave between 19th and 20th Sts, 646-476-5458), topped with crème fraîche, scallions and Brooklyn Gin–cured salmon ($16). At neo-Israeli kitchen Bar Bolonat (611 Hudson St at W 12th Sts; 212-390-1545, barbolonatny.com), Einat Admony reps her heritage with an airy, sesame-seeded Jerusalem bagel ($6), served with earthy olive oil and house-made za’atar (thyme, sumac and herbs).
And Food Network celebutoque Amanda Freitag rolls out two quirky takes at Empire Diner(210 Tenth Ave at 22nd St; 212-596-7523, empire-diner.com): the bagel-deconstructed lox and burrata ($12), cheekily studded with everything-bagel spice (salt, garlic, poppy and sesame seeds); and French onion soup bobbing with bagel-bread-pudding croutons ($9). With these right-out-of-the-oven creations, a New York tradition just got a hole lot better.
Mad Dog & Beans Mexican Cantina
In a city not typically known for its Mexican food, you might not expect to find a cantina in the heart of the Financial District. Nevertheless, that’s where you’ll find Mad Dog & Beans Mexican Cantina serving up bowl after bowl of guacamole made fresh to order ($12 for a single serving). For your main course, try one of the crowd-pleasing burritos ($15–$17), quesadillas ($13–$15) and tacos on offer (four for $14–$17), or opt for one of the more traditional plates. Think chiles rellenos with black beans and rice ($18) and shrimp fajitas served in a sizzling cast-iron skillet ($24). What Mexican feast would be complete without a margarita? Pick the tequila you like from the list of more than 30 brands, then choose whether you’d like it frozen or on the rocks ($10–$23). Add a flavor like cucumber, blood orange or cactus pear for $2 more. Don’t forget the flan with caramel sauce ($7) or deep-fried churros ($8) to finish the meal!
Venue says: “Visit us at our brand new location in Midtown! 5 East 38th Street between Madison & 5th.”