It’s no secret that New York is known for its bagels. They are the city’s staple that brings tourists and locals together with an understanding that bagels are an exceptional choice for not just breakfast, but lunch, dinner, and even dessert. But what is it, exactly, that makes New York City bagels superior?
The 10 Best Bagels in NYC
Some say it’s the New York water that makes the bagels delicious, while some attribute it to a special boiling process introduced by Eastern European immigrants. Whatever the secret, there’s no denying that a well-executed NY bagel is as close to perfection as it gets. Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up the very best bagels in NYC below. Happy eating!
10. Russ & Daughters
If you have visited New York, there is a good chance you have been to this iconic bagel shop. Some would refer to it as a historical landmark, as it has been on the map for more than 100 years. You cannot leave this Russ & Daughters without trying the most classic item on their menu—maybe the most classic item in all of New York—the lox bagel. The salmon is a melt-in-your-mouth type of delicious. Top it with some capers, tomato, and red onion and you’ve found yourself one of the best bagels in NYC.
Ess-a-Bagel is a classic bagel shop conveniently located in multiple locations around the city. They will meet any bagel need at any time of the day. Spanning the sweet-to-savory spectrum, they offer a variety of intriguing flavors, such as jalapeño, avocado garlic, Funfetti, and Oreo. Ess-a-Bagel also provides a variety of vegan cream cheeses made from tofu. The bagels are soft on the inside and toasty on the outside, and there is no denying that they are some of the best bagels in NYC!
8. Murray’s Bagels
This is a classic spot for Chelsea locals. Murray’s fanatics claim that this place is serving up some of the best bagels in NYC and for good reason—their omelet on a bagel. A combo made in foodie heaven. The richness of the omelet and cream cheese makes for the perfect breakfast and is incredibly tasty and filling. Bonus points: Murray’s baked goods and drinks are outstanding as well. Grab a western omelet bagel here then walk along the High Line, which is just a few blocks away.
7. Tal Bagels
Another favorite on our guide to the best bagels in NYC is Tal Bagels, which is a quick stop that’ll cure all your carb cravings. We recommend sinking your teeth into the vegetarian scramble on the everything bagel. The fresh veggies mixed with egg and jalapeño cream cheese is an explosion of flavor. There are so many elements happening on just one bagel but it is refreshing and surprisingly light. Each bite has you wanting more, and we won’t tell anyone if you shed a tear as you take your last bite.
6. Liberty Bagels
Liberty Bagels is a great Midtown spot for a tasty, hand-rolled, kettle-boiled bagel. While they are famous for their rainbow bagel (featuring bright and beautiful colors and the plain bagel flavor everyone knows and loves), every bagel here is clearly homemade and baked to perfection. The cream cheese selections are off the charts and there is something for everyone. Even if you opt for a plain bagel and original cream cheese, you’ll be blown away by the quality and flavor at Liberty Bagels. Come here for breakfast, lunch, or a quick snack to indulge in one of the best bagels in NYC!
5. Leo’s Bagels
Situated in the heart of Wall Street, Leo’s has a bagel you’re practically going to inhale. This shop is tucked away in the non-grid streets of the financial district but is absolutely worth seeking out. Their lox on a pumpernickel bagel is a pairing that is unparalleled. Not every bagel place does lox right, but Leo’s nails it with lox that is soft, flavorful, and fresh. After scarfing down your delicious bagel, you’ll have energy to take on the rest of the city. Grab one to go, then walk a few blocks south for a view of Lady Liberty; a quintessential New York moment.
4. Best Bagel & Coffee
Best Bagel & Coffee is a hidden gem and conveniently located next to the iconic Penn Station. Loved by local workers and residents, there is always a crowd of people waiting to get their hands on one of the best bagels in NYC, and it’s always worth the wait. A breakfast staple in New York City is the bacon, egg, and cheese bagel—you’ll find it at nearly every street cart, deli, and bagel shop—and nobody does it better than BB&C. The bagel itself is soft, chewy, easy to bite into, and has so much flavor. This is a great pitstop near many famous, tourist-friendly sites, but you might find that these bagels are actually the main attraction.
3. Tompkins Square Bagels NYC
Welcome to Tompkins Square Bagels, where you’ll find yet another selection of the best bagels in NYC. Located in the historic lower east side, this bagel shop easily has some of the tastiest bagels you will ever consume. There are so many unique offerings here, you could spend a lifetime trying to decide what to order. Try the expertly-made Koch built with hot pastrami, eggs, scallion cream cheese, and red onion, or go for the Dylan with pesto and fresh mozzarella. And don’t worry about all the bagels you don’t order this time, you’ll definitely be back for more.
2. Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Company
Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Company is another favorite spot on the west side, with bagels so perfectly chewy and doughy, you’ll wonder why you’d ever venture to another bagel shop. The shmears here are rich, creamy, and stand out with incredibly interesting and accurately named flavors. Try a plain bagel with cannoli cream cheese for something sweet and a sausage, egg, and cheese on an everything bagel for something savory. At Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Company, a mediocre bagel simply does not exist.
1. Absolute Bagels
If you’re ready to dive into the best bagel of your life, you must visit the greatest of all time. Located near Columbia University, Absolute Bagels is a cash-only hole-in-the-wall that is undefeated in the bagel arena. No bagel in NYC compares to the fresh, warm, toasted egg bagel that pairs with seemingly any cream cheese. It’s chewy, it’s delicious, it’s what your dreams are made of. When in doubt, order the strawberry cream cheese made with fresh strawberries for the perfect pairing. You can count on a consistent line around the block (even late at night!) full of hungry New Yorkers and visitors alike waiting patiently to get their hands on the best bagel in NYC. Eating a bagel from Absolute Bagels may just be the best decision you’ll ever make.