Where to Find the Best Bagels in New York City

Beth Kaiserman

 

When you live in a city that freaks out over a rainbow bagel, and then freaks out when it can no longer get a rainbow bagel, you tend to know a thing or two about our round, doughy friends. Though not as ubiquitous as I thought they would be in New York City, bagels still play a major part in New York living. The hangover bagel. The brunch with parents bagel. The desperate dinner bagel. And the bagels keep on spinning.

 

When in need of an overly carb-filled New York bagel sandwich, here are your best bets, in no particular order:

 

Russ & Daughters and Russ & Daughters Café

 

Iconic is an understatement. Russ & Daughters is a mecca for all things that should go on or with a bagel. Whitefish salad should not be missed. Watch the guys behind the counter in white lab coats work their magic for a classic New York experience. If you prefer sitting, head down the street to Russ & Daughters Cafe, which opened in 2014 on the original’s 100-year anniversary. The bagels come from Bagel Hole in Brooklyn.

 

Zabar’s

 

Zabar’s is only good if you’re buying in bulk. They offer one of the best selections of smoked fish and other appetizing pleasures, but ask for a freshly made bagel and lox sandwich in the cafe and prepare to receive some salty New York attitude. (You can grab a very cold, slightly hard one wrapped in plastic, though.) Go to Zabar’s when you’re hosting a brunch party, or bringing something to a brunch party. It’s a winner for that.

 

 

Terrace Bagels

 

I like to hide here when I want a lunchey bagel sandwich, like a turkey club laden with cheese and crisp bacon. It’s a low-key neighborhood spot, and the park is only a couple blocks away if it’s nice out. I prefer the bus station style vibe of the seating area though. You’ll overhear some great Brooklyn accents.

 

Bergen Bagels

 

There are three locations of Bergen Bagels, and the original on Bergen Street near Barclays Center is the best. All three locations are solid though for fresh bagels and schmear or egg sandwiches. Skip the smoked salmon and deli meats and save that for Shelsky’s.

 

 

Shelsky’s Bagels

 

A safe bet for a large and lovely smoked salmon bagel sandwich or a pastrami on rye (if you’ve already had a bagel today), Shelsky’s is a neighborhood staple in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill. Choose from a variety of smoked salmon options, and start off your day the Brooklyn way.

 

Tompkins Square Bagels

 

Welcome to a place where you can order birthday cake cream cheese no matter what your age is. New York is magical. Prepare to wait to sit down, or plan to grab your grub and go. If you can, it’s fun to sit in front of the large open window and watch the bagels being made.

 

Ess-a-Bagel

 

The Stuy Town/Gramercy location is gone for now, set to reopen in another location at some point. But the Midtown East location is going strong, hustling to tackle consistently long lines of hungry fans. Have a chat with the friendly manager who uses coffee samples to flirt with my mom.

 

 

Author Bio:

Beth Kaiserman is Highbrow Magazine’s chief food critic.

 

For Highbrow Magazine

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