This is either going to win me a lot of friends or make me a lot of enemies, because New Yorkers definitely take their bagels seriously, so be sure to let me know what you think!

Before we get to the top three though, I will say: For those of you who are new to the city, and may have tried bagels before in their home cities (and maybe didn’t like them all that much), give them another shot. They ARE different here, and they’re freaking delicious.

So, onto the three best bagels in New York City:

1. Tompkins Square Bagels

Two locations: 165 Avenue A, and 184 Second Avenue (both in the East Village).

The only bad thing about these bagels is that they’re so popular you may have trouble getting out the door with one in under 30 minutes on a weekend. They’re an efficient place but with so many people loving their bagels, you may need to settle into the line and make a friend while you wait.

The bagels are fresh, the contents are delicious, and the service is very friendly.

Walk in, past the line facing you, and head towards the back of the store. You’ll order in line, then take your slip to the front to pay and collect.

Please note: Cash only (and they’re big Yankees fans, so be careful with your Mets cap)

2. Ess-a-bagel

831 3rd Avenue (Midtown East)

This place is another very popular one and on a Saturday morning, you’re going to get REALLY good at lining up down the street. You’re going to order by yelling over the counter at the nice person in charge of your delicious treat, and then you’re going to take it down the line where you’ll pay!

3. Murray’s Bagels

500 Avenue of the Americas (Greenwhich Village)

“Since 1996 Murray’s Bagels has been serving Greenwich Village the finest in traditional, NYC bagels. Find out more about the hand-crafted methods that make a Murray’s Bagel so delectable.”

This place is a classic and most New Yorkers will mention it in their list of favorites. They make some fantastically gourmet sandwiches that are going to take three hands to hold and eat but are going to be worth spilling all over your front.

How to order a bagel

This might sound like my How to Order a Sandwich at a Bodega article or maybe my How to Order Street Food article but there are a few nuances that make it a little different:

  1. Pick your bagel type. The standards are: Plain / Whole Wheat / Sourdough / Sesame / Poppy / Multigrain / Salt / Garlic / Everything / Whole Wheat Everything / Cinnamon Raisin / Pumpernickel / Pumpkin / Blueberry* / Chocolate Chip (don’t worry though, there’s lots of options but really all you want is an “everything bagel” or a “whole wheat everything bagel” – seriously);
  2. Explain how you want it:
    1. Toasted – Many places like the ones above will recommend against this because their bagels are so fresh that they don’t need it, so that’s why they might be looking at you funny)
    2. Scooped out – Take a good part of the contents of the bagel out. It makes the bagel a bit lighter for those who find them a bit heavy!
    3. Open-faced – Divide it into two and then have toppings topped onto each half – You can do this if you maybe want to share, or want half savory, half sweet!
  3. Pick your cream cheese (if you want it, and sometimes it goes by “shmear” (UPDATE: thanks friend of America Josh, Bill S., for letting me know that “Shmear doesn’t mean cream cheese, it means an amount of cream cheese.”). The standards are: Plain / Light / Scallion (and then an infinite list of specialties – but scallion is delicious);
  4. Then pick your extras like lox (lox is what I knew as smoked salmon, that one caught me out), lettuce, tomato, and many other options (look in the window and pick what you want!)
  5. ENJOY!
About the Author

America Josh

I had a fantastic life in Adelaide and in Australia but thought in late 2015 that it was time to do something new. I handed over control of my company, sold my house, car, and even gave away my cat (“Aslan”) to start on my journey to New York.

I arrived in New York on January 10, 2017, from Adelaide, South Australia and in March 2017, I started America Josh to help make the transition to the US from wherever you’re from just a little bit easier.

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