New York City might just be the mecca of bagels in the USA – if not the world. It was one of the thing’s I missed spending four months in Mexico (with pizza not too far behind). But for someone visiting NYC for the first time, where should they even begin to get the best in the city?
I set out to answer this question by doing my second hittheroadbarr food challenge. Five bagel shops in one afternoon. Who will be the champion? Grab some cream cheese and dig in as I take you through some of New York Cities top bagel shops.
1) MURRAY’S BAGELS
Address: 500 6th Ave, New York, NY
Cost: $3.75 for a bagel with cream cheese.
Summary: Stop one was at a very popular bagel place in Greenwich Village that I had yet to try. Even at 11 am Murray’s Bagels had a sizable line waiting once you entered. One thing you notice right away is some of their cool artwork posted on the walls involving bagels. Seating is an option inside but was almost fully taken on this morning.
I decided to start the challenge by getting a sesame seed bagel (my favorite flavor) with cream cheese. Some bagel places have their own distinct flavors, but if I am going to judge it would be best to stay uniform (sesame or plain bagels only).
RATING: This was a good start to the challenge as I immediately enjoyed the taste of the cream cheese inside the bagel. The bagel itself was on the softer side, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I do prefer when it is crunchier. All and all a solid first bagel which will receive 3.5 out of 5 Barrs.
2) BROOKLYN BAGEL & COFFEE COMPANY
Address: 286 8th Ave., New York, NY
Cost: ·$3.50 for a bagel with cream cheese.
Summary: Ironically named Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company despite being in Manhattan, I was surprised at the lengthy line at 12 pm. I give them credit for the variety of bagels (including an irish soda one) and spreads. Nothing says NYC like 7-9 different choices of cream cheeses.
I went with a plain bagel with cream cheese at this store. Being with my brother made it easier to just order one bagel and split it in half. Five full bagels in one day would probably end with my belt not fitting. There was a little seating area by the entrance, but everything was taken during our stay here.
Rating: I should’ve paid attention to the few people ahead of me who asked for “light on the cream cheese” when they ordered. These guys had no shame absolutely smothering globs of cream cheese inside the bagel. It was a bit of overkill in my opinion, and it was too salty. The bagel itself wasn’t bad but on the softer side for my tastes. What might be a killer good bagel in Ohio compared to top NYC spots is going to get a 3 out of 5 Barr rating.
3) BEST BAGEL & COFFEE
Address: 225 W 35th St A, New York, NY
Cost: $3.60 for a plain bagel with cream cheese.
Summary: This is the only bagel shop in midtown that made the bagel challenge. Upon entering, I see what looks like a bakers dozen of people waiting in line. In reality though, they were just standing with their ticket waiting to receive their food. You order from one counter and then go to the other side to pick it up.
To their credit, the staff prepared the plain bagel with cream cheese in under 10 minutes with a sizable group waiting. Even with plenty of seating nothing was available inside. Bagel lunches on a weekday afternoon in Manhattan appears to be a “thing” these days.
Rating: Finally! This was a bagel that nailed it on the appearance scale. A very crispy brown top with just the right amount of cream cheese. I said i would only take a few bites but had to finish it after digging in. This is for sure a place to check out if you are in midtown and get a bagel craving. For making me forget I wasn’t hungry anymore it will receive 4.5 out of 5 Barrs.
4) TOMPKINS SQUARE BAGELS
Address: 165 Avenue A, New York, NY
Cost: $3.50 for a plain bagel with cream cheese.
Summary: Located in Alphabet City, this spot surely is the most hipster feeling with cold brew coffee taps in the front and eclectic choices like a rainbow flavored bagel. I enjoyed the smell of fresh bagels as I entered through the front door.
This location had ample size, with plenty of seating in the back. They even have a little outdoor area which is closed for the time being. I think in the future I would come back and try one of their funky cream cheese flavors like cookie dough or birthday cake. However, for the challenge I stuck to basics and got a plain bagel with cream cheese.
Rating: This bagel was quite similar in appearance to the one at Best Bagel & Coffee. A crispy brown top is always a good sign. The bagel was probably the warmest one I ate on the bagel challenge (and it was not microwaved or toasted). Still, it just lacked a bit of that extra oomph that I felt when I ate at Best Bagel & Coffee. As a result it will receive 4 out of 5 Barrs.
5) BAGEL HOLE
Address: 400 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY
Cost: $2.15 for a plain bagel with cream cheese.
Summary: Bagel Hole is the only Brooklyn representative on this list, located in the trendy Park Slope neighborhood. Surprisingly, it was the most no frills spot on the bagel tour. It reminded me a lot of some of the North Jersey bagel spots I grew up with. Just a counter and a small standing area in front of it.
Rating: My first hint that the bagels here were special was by looking at them from a distance behind the counter. The texture/color/crispness pop out right away. I sampled here both a sesame bagel with egg & cheese and a plain with cream cheese. I enjoyed the firmness of these bagels and while it was on the smaller side it was still more than enough. The cream cheese was fresh and a great complement to the brown and crispy bagel. It may just be my opinion, but this is the way a bagel should taste out of the oven.
Perhaps they do save the best for last, as Bagel Hole received 5 out of 5 Barrs and is the winner of the Hittheroadbarr NYC Bagel Challenge!
Tell me in the comments if you think NYC has the best bagels and if it wasn’t mentioned here where your favorite spot is in the USA!
Here Be Barr NYC Bagel Challenge
Check out my twin brother Jon’s youtube video doing the challenge alongside me. I make several cameos staring as the “Evil Twin”.