"Let them eat bagels."
September 16, 2009 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find the best bagel in NYC?

At the risk of starting a riot, I'd like to hear MeFites' opinions on where the best bagel can be found in NYC.

I have lived in New York over a year, and I have yet to eat a bagel (I think Super Size Me made me not want to eat them for a while).

I have a friend coming into town in October, and as part of her visit, I'd like to take her to a great NYC place, with the best bagels on Earth. No small feat, but I imagine if anyone knows where such bagels can be found, the people of AskMe will know.
posted by whimsicalnymph to Food & Drink (44 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I like ess bagel on 1st ave and 20th street. Their bagels are small, crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
posted by abirae at 12:16 PM on September 16, 2009

Properly named Ess-a-Bagel. Definitely the best.
posted by The Michael The at 12:17 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

H&H on 46th and 12th Avenue.
posted by yellowcandy at 12:18 PM on September 16, 2009

Thirdin' Ess-a-Bagel.
posted by suedehead at 12:18 PM on September 16, 2009

Absolute Bagels on 107th and Broadway. Eat them in Riverside park on a Saturday while watching the impromptu circus there (ring people, plus hula hoopers, unicyclers, jugglers and tightrope walkers) for maximum enjoyment.
posted by rebekah at 12:21 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

I like Tal's Bagels on 1st between 53rd and 54th. But I think you'll find people recommending whichever notable bagel place happens to be near where they live, which is certainly true in my case. Good luck!
posted by Grither at 12:23 PM on September 16, 2009

I always liked Murray's--though maybe just because the location at 6th and 13th was right near where I used to live. H&H is good, too.

How come I've never heard of a really fantastic bagel place in Brooklyn? It seems like every ethnic food has some draw that is good enough to schlep to the boroughs for, but with bagels, I've never heard a reason to leave Manhattan. What gives?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:25 PM on September 16, 2009

H&H on Broadway and W. 80th. Ess-a-Bagel is a very distant second.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:25 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Fourth for Ess-a. I've tried H&H, and it's just not the same. Plus not as many options. If you just want bagels (no sandwiches, cream cheese, etc.) be sure to skip over towards the register. Generally no line there.
posted by hue at 12:30 PM on September 16, 2009

Brooklyn has Bergen Bagel and La Bagel Delight, multiple locations. Both awesome.
posted by Marnie at 12:30 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's been years since I've been willing to venture to the Upper East Side, but Pic-a-bagel on 2nd between 76th and 77th used to make my favorite bagel, followed closely by Ess-a.
posted by JaredSeth at 12:35 PM on September 16, 2009

2nding Absolute Bagels. They are by far the best bagels I've ever had - check out any of the review sites and they'll back me up on this.
posted by alrightokay at 12:36 PM on September 16, 2009

Murrays is the best! And, by the way, good bagels shouldn't be toasted!
posted by Pineapplicious at 12:43 PM on September 16, 2009

I haven't been to any of the other places recommended up-thread, so I can't make comparisons, but I love Terrace Bagels in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. Their bagels taste awesome to me. A fair number of folks seem to think they're the best bagel in the city. Plus it's just a two block stroll from there to Prospect Park, where you can enjoy your bagel among green, leafy, rolling hills.
posted by otolith at 12:49 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Both Absolute & H&H are fantastic
posted by gomess at 12:50 PM on September 16, 2009

Do you enjoy the combination of bagel, cream crease, lox, tomato and onion? Because Russ and Daughters is where you should go.
posted by spec80 at 1:01 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I agree with spec80. Russ and daughters rocks if you like lox and bagels. I go there all the time.
posted by majortom1981 at 1:05 PM on September 16, 2009

I'm closer to Murray's, so I go there more often... but I'll also second H&H on the UWS. Tough call.
posted by rokusan at 1:18 PM on September 16, 2009

David's Bagels 1st ave and 19. Seriously.
posted by cestmoi15 at 1:24 PM on September 16, 2009

I'm also partial to Ess-a-Bagel.
posted by andrewraff at 1:27 PM on September 16, 2009

How come I've never heard of a really fantastic bagel place in Brooklyn? It seems like every ethnic food has some draw that is good enough to schlep to the boroughs for, but with bagels, I've never heard a reason to leave Manhattan. What gives?

You clearly haven't been asking the right people.

If you want to head into Brooklyn, it's worth trying the bagels at La Bagel Delight, as Marnie says, which has about 5 convenient locations. These bagels are on the larger side, but don't worry, they are plenty chewy. I would pit their bagels against Ess-A, Murray's, Absolute, or H&H any day of the week.

I also hear good things about The Bagel Hole, at 7th Ave and 12th St. in Park Slope I live on the wrong side of the neighborhood to go there, but those in the know say it's better even than La Bagel Delight.

I also think that the average Brooklyn bagel place makes a better bagel than the average Manhattan place. My local spot (AREA bagels at 5th and Bergen) does a really top-notch bagel, and it's cheaper than pretty much anywhere mentioned above.
posted by goingonit at 1:31 PM on September 16, 2009

Cream CHEESE. Wtf, me?
posted by spec80 at 1:32 PM on September 16, 2009

My three favorites, in order...

David's Bagels (nod to cestmoi15) - used to go here on my way to work when I lived in Stuy Town. Everything with cream cheese is orgasmic. Don't bother with their bacon egg and cheese, though.

Murray's (nod to Admiral Haddock) - I moved pretty far west into the west village, but I still go to Murray's to stock up once every few weeks. Bagels keep almost perfectly in the freezer.

H&H - classic for a reason.
posted by ben242 at 1:36 PM on September 16, 2009

Nthing H&H and Russ & Daughters.
posted by bashos_frog at 1:44 PM on September 16, 2009

I'm a big fan of The Bagel Cafe across from Cooper Union. Yum!
posted by streetdreams at 1:46 PM on September 16, 2009

Murray's, H & H, and Tal Bagels (in order of preference).
posted by kimdog at 2:09 PM on September 16, 2009

Ess-a-Bagel, sometimes when I'm up there I get a dozen to go to bestow upon poor Philadelphians that have never had an actual bagel before.
posted by The Straightener at 2:14 PM on September 16, 2009

two Brooklyn votes for Terrace Bagels and the Bagel Hole, but Terrace wins hands down - lived next door to it for several years and it was *heaven*.
posted by wayward vagabond at 2:15 PM on September 16, 2009

truck it to brooklyn and go to Bergen Bagel.
posted by thatgirld at 2:18 PM on September 16, 2009

I moved from one block away from H&H to one block away from Absolute Bagels and they are both terrific. H&H on 80th street is open all night, which can be very handy some times. Take whatever bagel is hot over your preference (unless it is some sort of abomination like blueberry). You will eat it and you will be happy.


While these are terrific bread products, and very popular (thus plausible candidates for "the bast bagel") it is my understanding that they are not traditional, old school, going to see your bubbie on the lower east side NY bagels. Traditional bagels are tougher, I think because they are boiled longer and less airy. Try the bagels from Zabar's (also, 80th & broadway) and you will see what I mean. Or that place on Elizabeth street which also has the best balies, but of which I cannot remember the name.

Its not over-thinking, its elucidating a significant theoretical difference
posted by shothotbot at 2:19 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Bagel Store in Williamsburg, either location.
posted by kdar at 2:48 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another good bagel place in Brooklyn: Bergen Bagels. I split an everything bagel from there this morning, and it was everything a NYC bagel should be.

(hey goingonit, we appear to be neighbors)
posted by jacquilinala at 3:16 PM on September 16, 2009

These are all really good suggestions and you'll never get a bunch of NYers to agree on anything. I would suggest picking a recommended one either near you, or near where you are going. That said, Russ and daughters does have an atmosphere all it's own so that could be fun.
posted by cestmoi15 at 3:19 PM on September 16, 2009

I spend a couple of years living on 14th and Ave B, and David's Bagels was always my bagel spot. Haven't tried the rest, never felt the need.
posted by c*r at 3:21 PM on September 16, 2009

My old workplace had Murray's for free in the morning. Is it any wonder that I lost a few inches in the waist after leaving?

Anyway, they're good.

I have to offer a counter-opinion to the Absolute love. When I went to school up there, admittedly more than a decade ago, they were too big and too soft. To me, a bagel should be crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Back then the place to go was Columbia Hot Bagels.

H&H gets the texture right but is a little sweet for my taste.
posted by lackutrol at 4:39 PM on September 16, 2009

Hurry for Bergen Bagels on Flatbush and 6th and Area on 5th at St. Mark's. Oh god, I miss my old apartment.

But also: what Shothotbot said. What we know as a good bagel is several degrees removed from the real thing.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 5:41 PM on September 16, 2009

If you and your foreign friend have never had New York bagels, you can pretty much go to any "famous" bagel place and have something really good. It's allegedly the water in New York that makes the bagels (and pizza crust) so good.

But, shothotbot is right that it's hard to find a "real" bagel anymore. A bagel isn't supposed to be like a soft roll. The outside crust should almost be crispy, really firm and glazed. Like it should make a sound if you tap it. Dark tan, with little air bubbles, like the crust on a hot pretzel. Unfortunately I can't recommend anywhere. Maybe go out to Borough Park and ask an old person on the street.
posted by thebazilist at 10:15 PM on September 16, 2009

Russ and Daughters is my favorite. They have six kinds of lox. Six kinds!
Second favorite is The Bagel Store. I've only been to the one at Bedford and Metropolitan, but I've heard their other location is equally as good.
Third favorite would be David's Bagels. I want to say it used to be better back when it was on 1st and 13th, but I could just be imagining that.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:02 AM on September 17, 2009

Damn. Now I really want a bagel and lox. If anybody wants to meet me at Russ and Daughters' for lunch tomorrow, send a MeMail.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:08 AM on September 17, 2009

In the interest of thorough research, I stopped by Bergen Bagels this morning on the way to work. I've got to say...meh. The inside was reasonably chewy, but the outside wasn't crispy at all, even after being toasted. On the other hand, light scallion cream cheese is awesome stuff. I guess I'll have to try Terrace Bagels at some point, but I hate the F train so much it might be awhile (Though at 6 this morning I saw a van from them on Union Street -- delivering to Union Market maybe?)

So in conclusion my vote is still for Ess-a-Bagel, with La Bagel Delight being my Brooklyn favorite.
posted by goingonit at 7:11 AM on September 17, 2009

Another vote for Ess-a-bagel. The bagels are especially heavenly when fresh and warm. And, they have belly lox! Mmm, salty...
posted by Citrus at 7:24 AM on September 17, 2009

another vote for ess-a-bagel and absolute. H&H are too sweet, and murray's (just had one this morning) isn't as soft or puffy inside as I like
posted by chalbe at 12:43 PM on September 17, 2009

Kossar's? I know they're famous for their bialys but I had some of their bagels and I was mightily impressed. I don't have much basis for comparison but they tasted seriously delicious.

I was planning to smuggle some Kossar's bagels (bialys, too) back with me after my coming trip to New York but you people have me second guessing myself. Am I way off?
posted by stuart_s at 8:39 PM on September 19, 2009

stuart_s: I was almost going to mention specifically how I don't like Kossar's. I used to like them, but I don't know...they're so airy inside. And, it pisses me off that they used to be 80 cents and now they're a dollar. The crust, though, is terrific.
posted by goingonit at 7:10 PM on September 20, 2009

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