|It’s hard not to love these! –credit|
Bagels are as core to New York City as pizza or hot dogs, yet range in appeal from the rock-hard street sandwich, to the fluffy, almost rich, homemade bagel from shops with a history of recipes and technique. Any time of day, be it after an early morning job, or a night out on the town, I’m pretty much ready to inhale a bagel. Here are five of my favorite spots to pick up New York bagels.
Russ & Daughters, 179 E. Houston St.
Originally called J. Russ National Appetizing Store, Russ & Daughters has been open since 1914 and continues as a family business today. Nearly 100 years later, you’ll have to push through crowds at the door to take a number and wait upwards of 30 minutes for homemade bagels, over a dozen flavors of cream cheese, and several seasonal smoked fishes (all ordered by weight).
Fantastic sandwiches featuring over ten varieties of smoked salmon are available on weekdays, but on weekends the bagel slicer may disappear due to crowds– you’ll have to go home to assemble your bagel sandwiches rather than grab your breakfast and go– but it’s worth the extra effort. The bagels are fresh and chewy, made from a traditional Jewish Eastern European recipe, but the stand-out here are the spreads! Choose from rich goat cheese cream cheese, fluffy tofu cream cheese, or traditional dairy cream cheeses with interesting additions like caviar or horseradish.
|A few of the selected cheese spreads—Photo by Melissa Kravitz.|
Absolute Bagels, 2788 Broadway
outside isn’t too hard or crusty, which makes for an easy eating experience, definitely great for a grab-and-go.
The shop offers a few tables where you can sit, and can have block-long lines on weekend mornings, but the wait is worthwhile once you smell the fragrance of these freshly baked bagels inside. Head in on a weekday afternoon when the shop is significantly less crowded, and the friendly staff may just give you a tour of their kitchen.
|An Absolute Everything Bagel with cream cheese and lox…yum. — credit|
Zabar’s, 2245 Broadway
Zabar’s is an Upper West Side food haven, for shoppers and eaters alike. Though the cafe on the corner has pre-made bagels and lox sandwiches to-go, the real way to enjoy a Zabar’s bagel is by heading into their grocery store, picking out your bagels, homemade cream cheese, and smoked salmon, and then heading to Riverside or Central Park to enjoy. “Just like New Yorkers” these bagels are tough and crusty on the outside, and elegantly soft on the inside; the special recipe makes the bagel perfect for toasting.
|Poppy Seed, Sesame, and Plain bagels from Zabar’s — credit|
Bagelsmith, 566 Lorimer St (Brooklyn)
Bagelsmith makes the best bagel sandwiches in town! Just off the L/G stop at Lorimer and Metropolitan in Williamsburg, this 24-hour bagel bakery and snack shop is worth the trip at any time of day or night. The homemade salt bagels are similar to a pretzel, and will satisfy any salty cravings you may have.
The giant griddle in back is used for preparing egg sandwiches at all hours, and these decadent creations can be topped with tomatoes, sprouts, avocado, a variety of other vegetables, and five types of cheese. Bagelsmith is the place to go for a lighter bagel with toppings a bit more salad-like than your usual fare, tasting so fresh and a bit healthier than it actually is.
|Outside Bagelsmith on Metropolitan Ave –credit|
Bagel Hole, 400 7th Ave (Brooklyn)
Purity is part of the key to Bagel Hole’s success. This no-frills establishment doesn’t sell soup or muffins or pasta salads, it’s all about the 10 flavors of handmade bagels and simple spreads, which are certainly not lacking. Since 1985, they’ve been hand-rolling bagels in the traditional German style, boiling them, and baking the bread to a crisp brown, which gives it a golden, flavorful finish. Serious Eats has named the bagels the best in New York City, and bagel lovers from all boroughs and the suburbs come to pick up these renowned bagels in dozens. There’s no seating available in the small store, so be prepared to take your hot-packaged bagel sandwiches to go.
|Bagel Hole is all about simplicity –credit|
Like anything, the New York bagel is subjective to personal taste. Whether you like it soft or hard, simple or gourmet, dominating in flavor or leaving that work to the spreads, the options are endless. Some will swear by the poppy seed while others are more attached to the bakery itself, but whatever tops your bagel, you’ll be able to find it, and enjoy it, in NYC.