Celebrate National Bagel Day in NYC

Celebrate National Bagel Day in NYC

Select from a variety of fresh bagels at Ess-a-Bagel! (©Melissa Horn)

Bagels are traditionally hand-shaped rings of wheat dough that are boiled in water for a bit and then baked. They originated in Jewish communities in Poland in the 17th century and came over to the U.S. via immigrants with New York City becoming a major hub for this doughy delight. Though bagels are now popular across the U.S., there’s still something extra special about those that are made fresh right here in the city. Here are just five of the best places to get bagels in the Big Apple:

Ess-a-Bagel (Midtown East): Founded in 1976 by an Austrian baking family, Ess-a-Bagel offers fresh bagels, bialys and mini bagels in an assortment of flavors with about 10 different cream cheese options and other spreads like butter, jelly and peanut butter. You can also get bagel sandwiches topped with various combinations of eggs, meats, fish, vegetables and cheeses. The bagels, among other sweet and savory offerings at Ess-a-Bagel, are certified kosher. 

Murray’s Bagels (Greenwich Village): The story behind Murray’s Bagels is heartwarming—former VP at Merrill Lynch and a bagel lover since childhood, Adam Pomerantz apprenticed with a bagel baker in New Jersey before perfecting a bagel recipe he liked and opening up his own store in Greenwich Village. The store, named after Pomerantz’s father, became a neighborhood staple and to this day offers quality, fresh bagels in over a dozen flavors. Specialty sandwiches and breakfasts sandwiches—on bagels, of course—are available, in addition to cream cheese spreads. Pomerantz is also the owner of Leo's Bagels in the Financial District.

Absolute Bagels (Upper West Side): Though Absolute Bagels has no website to promote itself, word-of-mouth and review sites like Yelp have helped share the news about this popular bagel joint. No frills, just hand-rolled bagels with an array of cream cheeses and spreads. Absolute Bagels is cash only and there’s often a line, but the line moves quick and the bagels are fresh. 

Russ & Daughters (Upper East Side and Lower East Side): Though this café—with a standalone location on the Lower East Side and a location inside the Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side—offers a full menu that features additional traditional Jewish dishes than just bagels, the bagels are still a huge draw. Enjoy Russ & Daughters’ bagels with smoked or kippered fish and flavored cream cheeses via platters to be shared or open-faced sandwiches.

Tompkins Square Bagels (two East Village locations): Hand-rolled, kettle-boiled then oven-baked bagels are made daily on-site. With about a dozen flavors of bagels (some specialty, some seasonal), you can order them plain, with all sorts of cream cheeses, with lox or with butter (flavored or plain). There are also generous lists of breakfast sandwiches, egg sandwiches, smoked fish sandwiches and other meat sandwiches (cold cuts, cheeses, chicken, tuna salads and more). Those with a sweet tooth should try the chocolate chip cookie dough or birthday cake cream cheeses.

(Courtesy Tompkins Square Bagels)

Bagels remind me of my grandfather, who would have a selection of them for my siblings and me when we would go visit. To keep tradition alive—and because bagels are a quick, easy breakfast—I eat bagels a lot, usually topped with cream cheese, an egg and cheddar cheese, hummus, or cake frosting (don’t knock it ‘til you try it). What's your favorite bagel order?

Happy National Bagel Day!

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