Bacon egg and cheese bagel in front of of Ess-a-bagel on 3rd Ave in Midtown East

Ess-a-Bagel (Midtown East)

Rating: 4.9
Price: $$
Established: 1976
Bagels Made On-site? Yes
Features: Tourist Trap, Hand-made bagels, Locally owned & operated, Multiple Locations
Dining Options: Indoor seating, Delivery
Sales: Catering, Wholesale, Ship nationally
Vegan Friendly? Yes
Gluten-free Bagels? No


Ess-a-Bagel is one of the – if not the – best-known bagel shop in NYC, and for good reason. The bagels are always big, fresh, fluffy, and delicious. The shop’s incredible bagels, long history, and gritty character make Ess-a-Bagel an iconic New York bagel shop.

Established in 1976, Ess-a has been a family-run business for multiple generations and know what they’re doing. OG’s will remember the original Ess-a location on 21st and 1st. This location is where we first fell in love with NYC Bagels, and to this day is the gold standard by which we judge all other bagels against. Unfortunately, the original location closed in 2015 when they couldn’t come to an agreement with the landlord to renew the lease.

Today, there are three Ess-a-Bagel locations to choose from. This one on 3rd Ave in Midtown East opened in 1993, and is the paragon of a quintessential NYC bagel experience. The bagels at the other locations in Gramercy and Chelsea are just as good, but are missing a bit of the old school charm this location has managed to cultivate.

As you might expect from the best-known bagel shop in NYC, the line can get ridiculously long during peak hours. Be prepared to wait if you try to go on Friday, Saturday or Sunday morning.

Pro tip: there is a separate, much shorter line for those just picking up bagels and schmear (aka no sandwiches).

The other Ess-a-Bagel locations in Gramercy and Chelsea are a bit newer. While the bagels at these locations are just as good, the shops themselves don’t have quite the same character.

If you’re visiting NYC and can only go to one shop, Ess-a-Bagel is the spot to go to.

Brunch spread from Ess-a-Bagel
Fully loaded brunch spread from Ess-a-Bagel