5 Bagel Shops That Are Worth the Subway Fare

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Asking a New Yorker to name their top spot for buying bagels is akin to asking them to identify their favorite baseball team. We’re such devoted fans that when a fave bagel store closes, a collective sense of despair ensues (or such was the case when the H&H Bagel Shop closed on the Upper West Side last year after 40 years in business). Luckily, most bagel bakeries have developed a cult following and have some pretty strong staying power so you don’t have to worry about them closing a la H&H. The big question for Red Tricycle readers: If you love a particular bagel, will your kid love it, too? Most likely. Read on for our Top 5 spots for bagel with (or without) shmear.

#1: Leo’s
While there are a scant few stools to sit on to savor your bagel, lox and cream cheese, not to worry. Take your order to go and sit with your kids in the sunny (and adjacent) Hanover Square and savor it al fresco. Wall Streeters flock to this old-world appetizing store and with good reason. The smoked fish is sublime, the spreads tasty and the bagels are always fresh.

3 Hanover Square (at Stone Street)

#2: Absolute Bagels
Arrive here around weekend brunch time and expect to wait with hungry Columbia University students, families and local fans, for your steamy bag of freshly baked bagels. This bustling storefront, which serves 16 varieties of bagels, may look nondescript, but it also serves some of the best whitefish salad in town.

2788 Broadway (between 107th and 108th Street)

#3: Zucker’s
On a bustling stretch of Chambers Street, you’ll find bagels that have the just-right ratio of crunch to sponge-y density and the best of the best in smoked fish-we’re talking David Burke Pastrami, Gravlax and Sable. Made the old-fashioned way, Zucker’s bagels are hand-rolled, kettle boiled and fresh baked throughout the day. Your kids will love the mini-bagels and well thought-out kids’ menu, too.

146 Chambers St (at West Broadway)

 #4: Ess-a-Bagel
People love this place as much for the kibbitizing with the staff as they do for the glorious puffy bagels that have been churned out of since this bagel shop opened on lower First Avenue in 1976. While you’re at either location, don’t forget to pick up some rugelach for dessert. It’s a must.

831 Third Avenue (at 51st Street)
359 First Avenue (at 19th Street)

#5: Vic’s Bagel Bar
This shop is something of a bagel fashionista among a dowdier crowd. The choices are vast here as Vic’s serves everything from regular sized bagels to chewy bagelos (bagel ‘balls’ that come in poppy, plain, sesame and everything), mini-bagels and flagels (flat bagels). This bagel spot has also added a decidedly spin on classic spreads, serving fresh toppings like chopped lox, strawberries, edamame and za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice blend), all of which can be mixed into traditional spreads.

544 Third Avenue (at 36th Street)

Have we missed your classic bagel spot? Let us know in the comments! 

— Lambeth Hochwald

photo courtesy of PatCastaldo, angela n.  via flickr