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The Best Bagel Shops in New York City

Bagels are an amazing breakfast choice and New York City is famous for having the “best bagels in the world.” Stroll past any bagel bakery in the city and the scents of fresh bagels–plain, sesame, poppy, pumpernickel– will surely delight your senses. Smothered with cream cheese or other delicious toppings, these awesome, chewy creations can be found at a variety of different bagel-serving eateries in the city. I made the bagel rounds recently to taste some of the city’s authentic bagels. Here’s a look at five of the best bagel shops in New York City that should be on your must-try list.

Fresh Baked Bagels at Absolute Bagels Photo Credit: Angela W./Yelp
Fresh Baked Bagels at Absolute Bagels
Photo Credit: Angela W./Yelp

Absolute Bagels
With a name like that, you know the bagels are going to be absolutely delicious! Located at 2788 Broadway on the upper West Side in Manhattan this Thai family owned and operated bakery has been open for over 20 years and has been a big hit with locals and visitors ever since. Some spectacular bagels come out of this bakery’s tiny kitchen and are best enjoyed fresh from the oven, piping hot. Choose from a wide variety like whole wheat, sesame, multigrain, pumpernickel, and rye. They’re great on their own but if you’re looking for creative toppings, you have 14 options of cream cheese and a variety of sweet, fruity spreads. Try the famous egg bagel. It’s as golden as a yolk and very tasty. The bagels are fairly large, but for those with smaller appetites a smaller version is offered. This upper west side shop almost always has a line out the door, but it’s worth the wait. You’ll find yourself back in no time. Trust me. Also, be sure to bring cash as it’s all they accept.

Cream Cheese & Lox BagelPhoto Credit: wEnDy/flickr
Cream Cheese & Lox BagelPhoto Credit: wEnDy/flickr

Bagel Oasis
This neighborhood gem, located at 18312 Horace Harding Expressway in Queens, has been serving fresh, tasty bagels since it opened in 1961. Made the old-fashioned way blending water with flour, salt, and malt instead of sugar, then boiling them in a kettle before hitting the oven for the final step gives the bagels a unique hint of sweetness. You can tell from the first bite that they practically just came out of the oven and you don’t have to get it toasted for it to taste great! Open 24/7 every day of the year, this Fresh Meadows Shop hasn’t changed its old-school baking practices since day one. All bagel varieties here are natural with no preservatives and taste great by themselves; crunchy on the outer crust, moist and chewy inside. Try them plain with butter or with a delicious array of homemade cream cheese choices like blueberry, strawberry, vegetable, walnut-raisin and sun-dried tomato. If you’re a fan of cream cheese and spicy food, try their spicy jalapeno cream cheese. It’s fantastic! Bagel Oasis is 10 miles outside New York City, but well-worth the journey.

Bergen Bagels
Locals flock to this appetizing shop and deli at 536 Myrtle Ave. in Brooklyn for the selection of quality bagels made in-house from scratch with no preservatives. You can certainly enjoy them on their own or with toppings. There are plenty of specialty cream cheeses to pair with your bagel, which are available in both regular and light varieties like olive, dill, vegetable, basil, avocado, feta, cinnamon, sun-dried tomato and tofu vegetable. All are delightful. At Bergen Bagels, which has two other Brooklyn locations, these appetizing bagels are made using the traditional methods and it shows. Every bagel is near perfection and usually hot out of the oven. Try the whole wheat everything bagel toasted with light scallion cream cheese. It’s a delicious bet.

Ess a Bagel Yelp
Pumpernickel Bagel with smoked salmon, tomato and cream cheese
Photo Credit: Joanne W./Yelp

Ess-A-Bagel
Located at 359 First Ave., this respected bagel shop has been serving outstanding hand-rolled bagels since opening in 1976. Ranked “the best in the tri-state area,” you’ll be lured by the aroma and filled with anticipation of the amazing taste once you walk in the door. Some spectacular creations come out of this amazing breakfast-and-lunch spot, and long lines stretch out the door, but they move fairly fast. There are plenty of appetizing bagel flavors on the menu, and a huge selection of specialty cream cheeses to pair with your bagel, but the shop is also famous for its bagel sandwiches. Perfumed with yeast and malt, the colossal bagel sandwiches are wonderful. They make particularly good egg sandwiches at breakfast. The crackled crusts help hold everything together while you eat. Try the bagel sandwich with egg and tomato on a whole wheat everything bagel. It’s delightful. The light vegetable cream cheese is also really yummy.

Barney Greengrass
Since 1908, this appetizing shop and legendary restaurant located at 541 Amsterdam Ave. and West 86th St. has been serving some fantastic bagels in its grab-and-go deli section. The store specializes in Jewish delicacies and is known as another popular spot for the best bagels in New York City. You’ll find a variety of different bagels on the menu. If you’re looking for something different, this upper west side establishment offers winning combinations of bagels Try a bagel topped with Nova Scotia salmon or chopped herring salad if you’ve never had one. It’s delicious. Or treat yourself to a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel. It’s another delicious bet. If you have the time, sit down in the old-school dining room for some scrambled eggs with pastrami salmon and a scrumptious bagel. The prices are a little high, but definitely worth the splurge. In addition to its amazing food choices, the restaurant also has a claim to fame. The movie “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock about a boy whose father died on September 11th, shot five scenes inside Barney Greengrass, which has also been featured in several other movies including the 1998 romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail,” starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

Stop in to any of the best bagels shops in New York City for an early morning fix, afternoon bite or late-night snack. You’ll walk away understanding why this City is famous for bagels.

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