The NYC Bagel Thread

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, finally got around to getting it started.

We eat a lot of bagels in NYC. We give visitors recommendations for where to get bagels. We carry them tens or hundreds or thousands of miles for bagel-deprived friends and family. And so on.

So maybe we can keep a running thread of what bagels New York HOs are eating, have eaten, like, don’t like, are planning to try, and so on.

Let’s include bialys in the mix too.


Having carried bagels places several times a year, I’m always wondering if I should switch up my source.

It used to be simple: H&H were my go-to bagels. They were good, they were close by, and they had Temp Tee in addition to their house scallion cream cheese.

Of late, I’ve been mixing it up when I’m buying a bunch (usually for expat New Yorkers).

Here are my recent experiences:

Absolute (UWS):
Pros: . Excellent bagel, good chew but not overly dense, they tend to throw in extras in my experience
Cons: Almost always a line, and not always a convenient stop

Ess A Bagel (midtown eat & west / Penn station area):
Pros: Large, good all-over coverage of toppings
Cons: Very dense, almost too big

Pick-A-Bagel (midtown west among other locations):
Pros: Excellent bagel, good chew but not overly dense, they throw in extras even with a half dozen
Cons: Not super friendly, but whatever, I’m stretching here



Broad Nosh (Columbus circle and elsewhere):
Pros: Highly reviewed
Cons: By non-New Yorkers: AWFUL, FLUFFY bagels. Travesty.


Murray’s (Chelsea):
Pros: Good bagel, nice chew, not overly dense, nice crust
Cons: Tiny store (ie line most of the time), not a convenient location for me

Zuckers (UWS and elsewhere):
Pros: Nearby, multiple locations
Cons: Not a very good bagel (not fluffy, but not good)


Davidovich (Essex Market, LES): Perfectly fine, a little too sweet, good texture. Also cheaper than Kossars - $18/dozen.

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Funny you should mention bagels… I (recently) saw this video and want to try to make some homemade bagels.

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I really like Bo’s and Absolute, sometimes it’s hard to choose between them.


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I’ve seen this comment before, but never really noticed a bagel tasting sweet. Will have to make a note in future.

How are their bagels?

They’re easier than you’d think — but I had never made them until we were really bagel-deprived during the pandemic,.

(Skip any recipes that don’t boil them before baking. I didn’t have malt syrup but molasses, worked well enough.)


Not as good as the bialys. Too poofy. Flavor is decent, though.

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Utopia Bagels, for doing the standards very well, for going out on a limb with flavors not usually found in NYC (prosciutto yes, pina colada no), and for being reasonably priced.

Baz Bagels for its pumpernickel everything bagel and extraordinary cream cheese flavors (love the wasabi tobiko cream cheese)

Bagel Pub for its pumpernickel everything bagel (see a trend?) although its become quite spendy.

Shelsky’s Bagels for classic, small, toothsome NYC bagels,

Pop-Up Bagels are very nice bagel-shaped dinner rolls.


To me the best bagel is the best near your home, assuming you found a good one. It took me some time, years really, but Bagels R Us in Staten Island - meh name, great bagels. When I’m in Brooklyn or Manhattan bagels is just about the last thing on my mind



Love this. It is a descriptor I needed in my life – thank you :joy:


This is so true.

About many things, not just bagels.

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I got a Goldbelly gift certificate for Christmas and had a bagel-bialy combo deal from Kossar’s overnighted to me in San Francisco. I eat lot of bagels of different persuasions but haven’t had a bialy for decades.

I’m no bialy expert, but was pleased with Kossar’s, especially the garlic bialys. Kossar’s bagels, however epitomize everything that has gone wrong with bagels in general and New York bagels in particular in the 60-odd years since I left New York: grossly oversized, no crunch to the surface or differential texture from the interior. I got both pumpernickel and “everything” bagels. The flavor of the latter was respectfully bagel-y, but the pumpernickel bagels seemed devoid of rye flavor.

Overall, my biggest gripe, not only of Kossar’s but of contemporary bagels generally is the size. Kossar’s pumpernickel bagels weighed in at an obscene 6.5 oz., and the “everything” at 6.7 oz. (0.2 oz. of seasoning?) and just try stuffing one of those into your bagel guillotine. . Maybe I should be thankful for getting a lot for my money, but that’s not foremost in my mind when I’m paying the air fare for the rolls-with-holes. Otherwise, I’ll just go down to Safeway.

My frame of reference for bagels has long been a New York Times article by Ed Levine, “Was Life Better When Bagels Were Smaller?” (which just had its 20th anniversary on New Year’s Eve). It reveals that bagel elephantiasis is not a new thing (thank you Noah’s and Costco). Levine’s description of union-made bagels as once made by Bagel Bakers Local 338 should be cut out and framed by defenders of New York bagels. Key features of the hand-made bagels were “At a mere three ounces … union bagels were smaller and denser than their modern descendants, with a crustier crust and a chewier interior.”

Read Ed’s full description of union-made bagels, close your eyes and imagine an added honey-sweetness factor and you’ll be looking at… a Montreal bagel. My bagel extravagance is about to once again grace the coffers of St-Viateur.


As someone who does not like their bagels sweet, I not only don’t like Montreal bagels but never liked the non-honey too sweet ones at the once very popular H&H in NYC. Otherwise I agree with you. Even though the terrible cake-y “did they forget to boil them first?” product sold in most supermarkets & bad bagel places have always made me avoid buying them, the other side of the counterfeit coin has always been the oversized air filled balloons (“did they forget to bake them after boiling”?) sold by “reputable” places in NYC. And don’t get me started on the ones I first found in L.A. (& that have now crept Eastward), where Sesame/Garlic/Poppy/Onion/Pumpernickel/Everything (& maybe Cinnamon Raisin) bagels had/have been joined by Jalapeño/Pineapple and other atrocities. What has the world come to?!

eta: of course, no sooner did I write the above then this came into my e-mail:
Read/believe at your own risk.

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Just need to say….SO JEALOUS! No decent bagels in Palm Coast, FL. I miss NY bagels!


Exciting news on this front … Utopia Bagels is opening a Manhattan (Murray Hill) location.

You are so right - though my daughter carries bagels from Bagel Pub to Ohio, and I really enjoy them out of the freezer when there! On or near my Brooklyn home turf, Bagel Pub, Terrace Bagels (Windsor Terrace) and Bagel Hole (latter very old school). I have not tried Shelsky’s yet. Some folks like the very near to me Bergen Bagels, but its not as good as the others.


You should try them. Some of the best around. Fortunately for me, following Ziggy’s rule the good bagel shop close to me is a branch of Shelsky’s.

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I’ve found that doughier bagels like Bagel Pub or Court Street Bagels fare better in freeze-and-thaw situations than more traditional bagels like Utopia or Shelsky’s or even Absolute. As such, Bagel Pub is a go-to for NYC gifts when travelling.

Haven’t been to Bagel Hole in yonks – will need to remedy that soon.