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Five Best Bagels in New York City  blog image

Five Best Bagels in New York City

February 21 2022

The New York Bagel – a work of art, in food form.

The humble NY Bagel originates from the city’s Jewish Community, with traces back to the Ashkenazi Jewish community in Poland. Bagels were brought over in the 1800’s with the Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe. 

Bagels were introduced on the Lower East Side of New York as an inexpensive meal that could be eaten on the go. The snack was primarily (and for many years) enjoyed by the Jewish population, but by the 1960s the popularity of the bagel grew throughout the city and across the country.

Since the growth in popularity, bagels themselves have grown too – with the average size increasing from 3 ounces to an average of 6 ounces.

New York Bagels have a unique taste that many residents and bagel-connoisseurs put down to the use of the city’s tap water, which is used to boil (or steam, depending on the baker’s preference) the bagels before cooking them.

Like a pizza slice, a good cup of coffee and a real NY donut, bagels are another delicious food you cannot not try when visiting the city.

No two bagels are the same – and despite having some of the best bakers in the world, NYC is home to some relatively bad bagels too. But don’t worry - we have created our own list of the very best bagels in the city for you to try and we promise you won't be left disappointed!

Bagel neon sign.

Bagel Talk - 368 Amsterdam

Located just minutes from the Hotel Beacon, Bagel Talk was one of only two Bagel shops on the Upper West Side to be named in last year’s Eater New York list of NYC’s 22 “finest bagels”. The shop has an almost 30-year history, first opening in 1995 and has remained a favorite neighborhood breakfast spot for residents on the UWS. Visit after 2pm for 50% off selected bagels!

Absolute Bagels - Broadway 2788

Listed in the Eater New York List of the city’s finest bagels, as well as being named the second-best bagel shop in the Big Apple – Absolute Bagels is an Upper West Side favorite. If you want to get your hands on one of these bagels, expect to queue out the door – but every minute is worth it when you finally take a bite. Choose from 16 different bagel varieties and an even larger selection of fillings and toppings.

Zabar’s – Broadway 2245

Zabar’s is one of the most famous bagel shops in the city, founded by the Zabar family in the 1930s in Brooklyn before moving to Manhattan where it quickly grew to become a popular specialty Jewish market. Zabar’s has appeared in plenty of films and television series set in New York, including You’ve Got Mail, How I Met your Mother, The Simpsons and Friends – and the bagels live up to their reputation too.

Seeded bagel on a wooden chopping board with salad and soft cheese inside.

Ess–a–Bagel – 3rd Avenue 831

Established in 1976, Ess–a–Bagel are a nationally known Bagel name, shipping all over the states and the best way to experience them is fresh in their New York bakery. Located on 3rd Avenue (between 50th and 51st Street) Ess–a–Bagel was voted the best place to find a bagel in the tri-state area within its first two years of opening – and their loyal following has continued to grow since. The shop is almost 50 years old and still run by the original family – a great piece of New York Bagel history.

Russ & Daughters – Brooklyn Navy Yard

If you’re looking to sample a real, traditional New York bagel you can’t miss a visit to Russ & Daughters. In 1914 Joel Russ, an immigrant from *Poland opened his first shop on the Lower East Side and later purchased a home in Brooklyn – when the Great Depression hit Russ was told he would need to sell his home or his business to stay afloat, so he moved his family into the back of the LES shop. The decision proved a good one and the Kosher Bakery is still run by the same family over 100 years later. Russ & Daughters supply the Jewish Museum with fresh bagels (and other goods) every day – so if you’re looking for truly traditional Jewish baked goods look no further.

Fun Fact: Russ & Daughters was the first company in the United States with “& Daughters” rather than “& Sons” because the founders had three daughters (and no sons) who all became shareholders as teens. The company received a lot of backlash at the time - but receive plenty of praise for it today!

*What is now Poland

If you’re visiting New York City and you’re looking for a hotel in the center of it all, The Hotel Beacon offers rooms and suites to help make your stay more comfortable.