Really excellent bagels in the Greater Boston (MA) area

Bagels are not my passion but I do like the occasional toasted everything with cream cheese or egg salad. Freshness is key and I prefer a good crust and chew over large and fluffy. (I may be a heretic since I also like Montreal bagels when I can get them fresh. )

My partner likes Katz Bagel Bakery in Chelsea. I think they’re fine but not close by so we don’t get there a lot. They’ve also cut back their Friday & Saturday late hours to 10 PM instead of 1or 2 AM the next morning (they bake a lot for the weekend market). The “pizza bagel” is their gimmick but I’ve never had one.

Partner is also fond of black & whites so Brooklyn Water Bagels sounds worth checking out next time we’re in that area. Thanks for the tip, sunnyday!

The Katz pizza bagel is totally fine and I do love the place itself, but I’d say the bagels there are merely good and not great. Worth going to if you’re in Chelsea, but maybe not a destination.

The everything also has onions/garlic/poppy…everything!!!

If you are getting your bagels in Newton, hit Rosenfeld’s in Newton Center. They are the real deal!

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OK…this Sunday morning then!

I compared 6 local (to me) bagels over the last few days: Bagelsauraus (Mass Av, Cambridge), Forge Baking Company (in Somerville, bagel picked up at Diesel Cafe in Davis Sq.), Iggy’s (bagel picked up at Darwin’s on Cambridge St. in Cambridge), Mamaleh’s (Kendall Sq.), Mariposa (Central Sq.) and Somerville Bread Company (Somerville). Some notes:

  1. Prices: The Iggy's, Mariposa and Somerville bagels were $2 each (although Iggy's is cheaper at the source, I think), Mamaleh's was $2.15, and Bagelsaurus and Forge were $2.50.
  2. All were plain, except for Somerville, which only had salt and seeded. I got a salt bagel, then scraped off the salt.
First the vital stats:

Next, the mugshots. All bagels were placed on a 6 1/2" square napkin, so the relative sizes are fairly accurate:

Finally cut-outs. The lighting was different at different times and the angles differed, so the colors are misleading, especially the yellow look of the Mariposa bagel, as are the relative sizes, but you get a feeling for the crumb.

Observations:

  1. The Bagelsaurus bagel is neither as overly-expensive nor as big/hefty as it's been accused of being. It's slightly bigger than the others, but is not the weight champion.
  2. Both it and the Forge (even more so) had a sourdough taste and crackly crust. Although the two bagels looked different, they were similar in weight and taste.
  3. The Somerville bagel was very dense, and bready with a moist crumb. It was the heaviest.
  4. The Mariposa bagel has, as I've observed above, a pretzel-like taste, possibly from being boiled in water that's heavily dosed with baking soda, not lightly dosed with lye.
  5. Iggy's had the least distinctive taste.
  6. Mamaleh's probably comes closest to a "traditional NY bagel," but opinions on what that even is diverge.
  7. Somerville (strongly), Mariposa and Mamaleh's (possibly) gave evidence of having been formed traditionally from a rope of dough formed into a circle with the ends lightly twisted together. Iggy's looks as if it was cut into a ring by a machine.
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Too bready. See my longer post on 6 local bagels in this thread.

this is a great post. thank you.

I just love the ridiculous level of detail. Hats off to you!

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Awesome post. Did I miss it when you said if you had a strong preference for one or two?

Dabbler, this is awesome, and we should start an online database so people can upload observations from further afield. But we didn’t get your subjective opinion. What did you like and why?

@fooddabbler, I don’t think I have ever said fun and analytical in the same sentence but now I am. Amazing post!

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I’d posted some personal preferences upthread. I don’t have a “favorite”, as such, and I like the differences that different bagels styles bring to the table. We eat a lot of bagels from Bagelsaurus because (a) we like them a lot, and (b) they are the most convenient for us to get to. Mariposa is next in line. We actually prefer their unusual pretzel-like quality, and their smaller size, but they’re harder for us to get to in the mornings. There was a time when I was nearish Central Square in the early mornings, and I’d routinely get bagels from them for breakfast, but my morning whereabouts are different now, so convenience has dictated fewer bagels from them.

Forge bagels are new to me. I Iiked them a lot on this recent comparison test, but since both the bakery and Diesel Cafe are harder to get to for me, I suspect I won’t eat them as often. I also like Mamaleh’s bagels, but again convenience has dictated fewer of their bagels for us.

I liked Iggy’s (characterless) and Somerville (moist and heavy crumb) the least, but both are fine in a pinch.

Thanks, everybody, for liking, and “liking”, the post. I had fun doing it, and happened to have a bit of time on my hands this week. If others can contribute stats and pics of bagels from other sources, it would be great.

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@fooddabbler, an inspiring post, thanks so much for taking the time! Reminds me a bit of fourunder’s amazing posts about meat back in the golden days of Chowhound.

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I might as well chime in seeing I’m a bagel lover. It’s pretty hard to beat Rosenfelds’. Katz’s is ok if you’re in the neighborhood. On the South Shore, Atlantic Bagel in Hingham is decent. Their bagels make a good sandwich, has good chew and lots of variety. In a pinch Gunther Toodie’s isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t go out of my way.
I’ll take mine not toasted (don’t ruin a good bagel), with a good schmeer!
Enjoy,
CocoDan

@fooddabbler Great post! Wish you could do another comparison with the bagel places further away from the city in this post (Brooklyn Waters, Levend, Exodus, Rosenfeld, etc)!

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Finally made it to Rosenfeld’s, and came away very pleased with the everything, great texture, excellent spice mix and coverage. This is a thowback - just bagels, no fancy coffee drinks. Reminds me of the dearly departed King Bagel near Coolidge Corner where we used to make 2 AM bagel runs when we were pulling all-nighters in college. Thanks!

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I can’t seem to find my post, but somewhere I posted that Moody’s in Waltham was making bagels. We went this morning for a pork roll breakfast sandwich, and there were no bagels in sight. They are still making donuts and muffins, and are selling some pastries from A&J King Bakery in Salem. Just thought I’d set the record straight.

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If you are even on the North Shore. Abraham’s Bagels in Newburyport is open after closing for a year because of a fire. Really good, the line moves fast too!

There’s a new bagel place in Georgetown that makes their own: Best Bagels on Main Street. Large, a little doughier than Abrahams. The sell ridiculously large bagel sandwiches too.

@sunnyday you are officially my (bagel) hero. We had an unfortunate lunch at the Framingham Beer Works when we spotted Brooklyn Water Bagels across the way. I checked on HO and sure enough I found your review. Upon seeing the bagels I promptly switched from half dozen to a Baker’s dozen. I got a bunch of everything, sesame, garlic, and onion plus some scallion cream cheese which was of the airy, whipped variety. We had a couple of the everything for dinner along with some white bean and veggie soup and we both loved them. I like mine untoasted, B favors toasted. Either way, they were dense, chewy, slightly crisp exterior. It’s now our favorite bagel in the Boston area. Too bad it’s a half hour to Framingham from Arlington. Boy am I glad I bought a dozen. Most of them went into the freezer so we will make them last as long as we can. Thanks again for the tip.

By the way, I did encounter the cranky owner. Honestly, she looks like she should be a curator of an art gallery. She’s probably cranky because she’s slinging bagels instead (which to me is just as noble as art but then again, I am bagel obsessed).

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