If you’re looking for the best bagel in New York City, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve eaten thousands of bagels at hundreds of bagel shops, and distilled this knowledge into a bite-sized guide to help you have the ultimate bagel experience.
Midtown East | Stuy-Town | Midtown
One of the best-known shops in NYC, and for good reason. The bagels are always big, fresh, and fluffy. Ess-a has been a family-run business for multiple generations and know what they’re doing. Multiple locations to choose from (Midtown East, Stuytown, Midtown). OG’s will remember the old Ess-a location on 21st and 1st- this location is where we first fell in love with NYC Bagels, and is the gold standard by which we judge all other bagels by.
Upper West Side
Bagel preferences are highly regional, which is why any New Yorker from the UWS will swear that Absolute is the best in the city. They have a leg to stand on. The bagels are a bit on the smaller side, but they are always blisteringly fresh. It’s a joy to watch them grab your bagel right out of a steaming pile. Absolute is a bit a victim of their own success – the line can get absolutely (ba-dum-cha) ridiculous at prime times, so try and go off-peak if possible.
A quintessential New York bagel shop. For city-dwellers, it’s a trip, but a pilgrimage well worth it. Utopia has one characteristic that differentiates it from many other shops: space. There is ample parking space and space to sit. The thing that is striking is the attention to detail: every facet of the shop is built out to facilitate a top-notch bagel experience. A partnership with a large-scale distributor means that bagels are made 24/7, and always fresh – those a couple hours old get frozen and passed on to the distributor. Action Bronson’s go-to bagel-shop and featured on Buzzfeed’s Worth It
Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company
Astoria | Chelsea | Greenwich Village
Disclaimer: Brooklyn Bagel Blog is not affiliated with Brooklyn Bagel in any way shape or form…similar to how Brooklyn Bagel has no actual locations in Brooklyn. Chalk it up to an endearing idiosyncrasy of the bagel world. Names aside, let’s focus on the bagels: giant, fluffy, fresh.
Upper East Side
This shop is a hole in the wall, as the truly elite shops tend to be. With insanely efficient operations, Bagelworks churns out piping hot, fresh, delicious bagels like a well-oiled machine. Can’t do much better than this.
Crown Heights | Park Slope
With 4 locations, high-quality bagels, and a humongous selection of bagels and cream cheeses, Bagel Pub is a force that dominates the Brooklyn bagel-scene. Tons of selection (arguably, too much choice). In addition to classic bagels, they have a huge menu of other deli foods, fresh juices, and coffee. Bright, well-designed interiors that aren’t overly flashy. Nothing gets a Bagel-lover more hyped than the signature MOUNTAINS of cream cheese at the Crown Heights location.
Some may look at David’s Bagels and see a hole-in-the-wall; others, a bagel oasis. This Stuy-Town shop flies under the radar, but absolutely deserves to be in the elite bagels conversation. The bagels are ginormous, fluffy, and oh-so-good.
Bagels & Schmear
Another no-frills, hole-in-the-wall you might not think twice about if you walked past on the street. But everything about this shop is great: fresh bagels, fantastic service, logical shop layout. It’s all in the name, and they deliver on that promise.
Olde Brooklyn Bagel Shoppe
Another under-the-radar shop. Located on happening Vanderbilt Ave in Prospect Heights. Beyond the high-quality bagels, what makes Olde Brooklyn stand out in a sea of bagels is their signature za’atar bagel and cream cheese.
For the uninitiated, za’atar is a traditional Middle Easter spice, “generally a combination of dried oregano, thyme, and/or marjoram (woodsy and floral), with sumac (tangy and acidic) and toasted sesame seeds (nutty and rich)” according to Bon Apetite. The za’atar bagels, za’atar cream cheese, and signature sandwiches (that both incorporate za’atar) bring a whole new flavor profile to the table. I’m a fan.
Tompkins Square Bagels
There may not be a cooler way to eat a bagel than munching on a fresh Tompkins Square Bagels bagel over in Tompkins Square Park on a sunny Saturday morning. The bagels are always fresh and fluffy, and (at the Ave A location) you can watch the bagels getting made while waiting in the perpetually long line. Owner and operator, Chris Pugliese, has been in the bagel business since he was a teenager, and his life-long dedication to the bagel craft is why this shop makes the cut.
Agree or disagree with this list? Something missing? Leave a comment below!