831 3rd Ave # 1, New York, NY
359 1st Ave, New York, NY
While I am proud of my adopted state, New Jersey, and I feel that we have many things to offer to those seeking culinary enlightenment and can hold our own in many ways in terms of dining and food options relative to options in Manhattan, there are certain things we just don’t do nearly as well. One of those things is Bagels.
Having grown up on the Nassau/Queens border, I know what a good bagel should look and taste like. Firstly, they should be boiled, not steamed, and they should have a nice crust. The inside should be chewy, but not doughy, and it should be fully cooked. And preferably, you should buy them baked fresh and they should still be warm from the oven, because the bagel place should have high turnover.
New Yorkers, particularly New York Jews, frequently argue over who has the best bagels in the city. Heated fights have been known to break out, and it sometimes can become a battle between East Siders and West Siders, not unlike the age old ideological disputes between the Litvaks and the Galitzainers.
Personally, I like to get my New York bagels from any good established bagel shop. While I used to get my bagels from H&H, with their factory store conveniently located right off the West Side Highway (the natural route I take back home from destinations in Manhattan) I think that Ess-A-Bagel is my new favorite. Why? Well for starters, their bagels are only 75 cents apeice, whereas the H&H ones are now going for over a dollar, and I think thats highway robbery. Also, H&H is pretty much a straightforward bagel bakery, whereas Ess-A-Bagel is a true Appetizing store, in every sense of the word. They got every kind of salad and cream cheese you could possibly want, and the atmosphere is classic.
The Ess-A-Bagel store on 3rd avenue. The original store on 1st was opened in 1976.
A view of the dining area.
Talk about a cream cheese spread!
New York bagels, the real mccoy. I’m particularly fond of the dark pumpernickel bagels here, which come in either raisin-free (my preference) or with. These were still nice and warm when I picked them up, and created the most indredible smell inside my car on the way back.