Bagels are great year-round, but there’s something about the falling temperatures that just makes a person throw carb caution to the wind and want to start storing for winter. A puffy coat, after all, is well known to hide a multitude of bready sins. And what sin is more delicious than a freshly baked bit of cream cheese-covered decadence? Here, we round up six of our favorites in the city, though, in a town formed by the culinary demands of its inhabitants, it’s hard to go wrong.
Serving Greenwich Village since 1996, Murray’s is staunchly old school—in the best possible way. Chewy in the center with a crust to rival all crusts that have come before it, Murray’s offers classics like onion and pumpernickel, in addition to health grain and organic wheat. Smoked fish? They’ve got plenty. And though it might seem sacrilege to bagel traditionalists, Murray’s allows toasting.
500 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10011
After shuttering their 1st Avenue outpost after 39 years, East Village staple Ess-a-Bagel lives on at their Midtown East location. Here, the name of the game is crispy on the outside, soft as a cloud on the inside. For the in-between, of course, there are inventive spreads, as well as a robust offering of smoked fish. Salmon, sturgeon, herring, trout—whatever you want, this place has it. Including the line out the door. Consider it time to assess your options before making it to the counter.
831 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10022
Black Seed Bagels
What separates this Nolita shop apart from everyone else is its wood-fired oven. Bagels are hand-rolled, poached, and then thrown into the fire to crisp. For Black Seed, the goal was to split the difference between between Montreal and New York varieties, both of which have their respective cult followings. Mission accomplished. The coffee, for those who care, is top notch, with beans courtesy of Stumptown.
170 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012
Bring cash and pay no mind to the no-frills decor, Absolute Bagels is an Upper West Side institution. Accompanying the 16 tried-and-true bagel varieties are the usual suspects: smoked fish, cream cheese, the works. If you like a bold brew, skip the coffee. You’ll find better options elsewhere.
2788 Broadway, New York, NY 10025
Don’t come here if you want special treatment. Do come here if you want a selection of modern and classic hand-rolled bagels that run the flavor gamut (with a selection of spreads to match). Whether you’re in the market for an everything wheat bagel or plain with tofu scallion cream cheese, Terrace Bagels is sure to please purists and the dietary demanding alike. Have a seat at one of their 15 small tables or take your goods to go.
222 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY 11215
For those who enjoy an even ratio of bread to cream cheese, head to Bergen Bagels, a Brooklyn staple never known to skimp on the fillings. Keeping the options limited and to the point, Bergen’s deftly straddles the line between soft and chewy. In terms of cream cheese, their flavors are plentiful, and for a bit of surf-and-turf, Bergen offers whitefish, lox, and an adventurous sable.
473 Bergen St, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Photo courtesy of Douglas Bagg