The 10 Best Bagel Shops in NYC
While Italian immigrants were busy making this city great by giving us pizza, their Eastern European counterparts set to pickling cucumbers and tomatoes, smoking fish, and rolling bagels and bialys by hand. Long New York's unofficial breadstuff, an outstanding bagel starts and ends with proper technique and a near-continual cook, ensuring a fresh product throughout the day. And like our beloved pizzerias, it's this dedication to quality and respect for the practice that makes for a superior bagel shop. Whether your go-to order is plain with butter or a toasted everything with scallion cream cheese and private stock sturgeon, there's no wrong way to eat the right bagel made by a shop with character. Here are the 10 Best in NYC.
All photos by Bradley Hawks
10. H&H Midtown Bagels East, 1551 Second Avenue; 212-734-7441
The currently defunct H&H trademark has been sold with plans to reopen the franchise, but for now, the legendary H&H name lives on at this Upper East Side bakery that does the original proud with thick-crusted, puffy rounds. Sandwiches come overstuffed, piled high with lox or an entire Philadelphia's-worth of cream cheese. If you're looking for something a bit less filling, the plain bagel is rolled thinner than the rest. It's as fine an expression of the craft as any.
9. Ess-A-Bagel, 359 First Avenue; 212-260-2252
You can thank this pair of respected bagel shops for the proliferation of colossal bagels around town, as owner Florence Wilpon has been serving her uniquely engorged dough mounds since 1976. Perfumed with yeast and malt, they make for particularly good egg sandwiches at breakfast, with pronounced, crackled crusts that help hold everything together while eating. Smoked and pickled fish platters -- from belly lox and lake sturgeon to pickled herring and smoked trout -- are the freshest in the area. The bagel jerks get a little overzealous with the cream cheese, but the puffed up breads are up to the task.
8. Hot Bialys & Bagels, 116-63 Queens Boulevard, Queens; 718-544-0900
Was your case dismissed at Queens County criminal court? Run down Queens Boulevard like the free bird you are to this old school deli baking extra crisp bagels and bialys. The slightly sour, imperfect rounds are dense and puckered but still manage to pull apart. They're excellent supporting various pungent appetizing options like chopped herring or whitefish salad. Bonus: thanks to the shop's proximity to a house of law, you're likely to hear colorful conversations as you tuck into your breakfast or lunch.