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15 Best Bagels in New York City

Updated: November 28, 2023

New York is well-known for its bagels and we highly recommend you try one when you are here.

This post leads you to the best bagels in neighborhoods you are most likely to visit.

We are local tour guides and we created this list using our more than a decade of experience leading daily tours in the city.

No morning goes by without a tour guest asking for bagel recommendations before a tour.

And we personally eat a lot of bagels, really too many to be honest. We are bagel experts.

We have been to all of the places listed below - we recommend them.

We also asked the roughly 200k members of our NYC Travel Tips Facebook group what they think are the best bagels in NYC.

This group is made up of locals, repeat visitors, and newbies to NYC.

There's no need to be a member to read the comments and recommendations.

We will include some of the most helpful tips we've found in the New York Travel Tips group in this post, if only to give you a sense of what both travelers and real New Yorkers think!

Take a look at our pay-what-you-like food tours to try many of the classic New York foods!


WHAT IS A NEW YORK BAGEL?

A bagel is a bread product made using yeasted wheat dough, then rolled into shape by hand into the form of a ring the size of the palm of your hand.

After being left to rise for 12 hours, bagels are boiled briefly in water and then baked.

A good bagel is soft and chewy, with a slightly crisp crust.

Bagels are sometimes baked with a light sprinkling of seasonings such as poppy seed, salt, toasted onion, roasted garlic, sesame seeds, or 'everything' meaning all the ingredients mentioned above.

Typically, plain bagels are $0.75 to $1. But rarely do people eat bagels without some sort of topping.

Traditionally, bagels are served as a sandwich topped with cream cheese, butter, lox (smoked salmon), tuna salad, and even peanut butter, and jelly.

A bagel and cream cheese will be about $3.00.

For the ultimate New York bagel experience, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy a bagel with cream cheese, covered with lox, thin-sliced onions, and a few capers.

TIP: Bagel shops often put a HUGE amount of cream cheese on bagels, more than most people can eat.

If you want a smaller amount of cream cheese, ask for a schmear (or smear). The store will know what you mean.

To learn about the centuries-old history of the bagel, see below.


MIDTOWN & UPTOWN

Midtown West and Times Square

Best Bagel & Coffee  225 W. 35th St at 8th Ave. Open Mon-Fri 6 am - 4 pm; Sat 8 am - 2:30 pm; Sun closed.

This tiny Midtown bagel shop makes one of the best bagels near Times Square.

If you are staying nearby, a perfect place to grab breakfast. If you aren't staying nearby, it's still a great place to get a classic bagel.

If you join us for our free Midtown Manhattan Tour, grab a bagel before the tour as the starting point is a few blocks away.

We also have a blog post on the best bagels in Times Square.


Pick a Bagel  891 8th Ave and W. 53rd St. Open daily from 6 am to 11:30 pm

Another great bagel shop that's in a perfect location for those staying in the Theater District of Times Square.

Since they do much more than great bagels and are open late, you can grab some good, well-priced food after a Broadway show.

Other locations are in Battery Park City, the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, and more.

Use this link to Google Maps to see all the locations.


Midtown East

Ess-a-Bagel  831 3rd Avenue at 51st St. Open Mon-Fri 6 am-9 pm; Sat-Sun 6 am-5 pm

Ess-a-Bagel has been making huge, delicious bagels since 1976. Anything you choose to put on your bagel, you will be more than happy.

everything bagel sandwich

They have a wide selection of savory salads such as egg salad, tuna salad, whitefish salad and out-of-this-world smoked salmon salad.

One issue is that there is often a line, but it is worth the wait.

Tips From Tourists

As you can see, Ess-a-Bagel is a very popular choice among members of our Facebook Group.

Below you'll see a tip from Jodie, who notes that if you just want bagels without any filling, you can actually skip the line!


Upper East Side

H&H Bagels East 1551 Second Avenue at East 80th St. Open 5:30 am - 9:00 pm daily.

One of the most well-known names in the New York bagel scene, H&H is no longer owned by the Puerto Rican brothers who opened the first H&H in 1972.

Helmer Toro and his brother-in-law Hector Hernandez (hence "H&H") built a bagel empire.

Between its east side and west side locations, H&H was once the largest bagel manufacturer in New York City producing about 80,000 bagels a day.

Quantity however never trumped quality. H&H bagels are truly as good as their reputation.

Coffee shops and breakfast join 'import' daily H&H bagels and display signs telling customers "WE SERVE H&H BAGELS!"

Tip:  H&H is just a few blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After your visit to see the finest art in the world, why not have one of the finest bagels in the world?

Find out about the Metropolitan Museum of Art Tours here.


Upper West Side

Barney Greengrass 541 Amsterdam Ave. at 86th St. Open Tues-Sun 8 am to 6 pm.

Barney Greengrass opened his first deli shop in Harlem in 1908. Business grew and Barney moved to the current location in 1929.

As the shop specialized in smoked fish, specifically sturgeon, Barney Greengrass came to be known as “The Sturgeon King.”

Though the bagels come from H&H (read above), everything else is homemade. 

It’s one of the best places to get a bagel near Central Park, so get yours to go and enjoy it with a cup of coffee on a bench!


Absolute Bagel 2788 Broadway at 108th St. Open Daily 6 am-9 pm. *CASH ONLY

A Thai family runs this bagel shop - kind of fascinating in and of itself. Absolute Bagels proves that one's ethnic heritage has nothing to do with making the perfect bagel.

Bagels are constantly streaming out of the oven to cater to the excited customers waiting in line. If your timing is right, you might get lucky and arrive just as a fresh batch comes out.

Warning: If you wear glasses, they may get fogged up at this steamy, yummy shop!

Tips From Tourists

The last thing we want to do is start a bagel debate, but you know how New Yorkers are about anything they cherish -- very opinionated!

As you can see, some tourists felt that this was a better spot than Liberty Bagels. I don't know if anyone will consider those fighting words, but clearly everyone has their favorites.


LOWER MANHATTAN

TriBeCa

Zucker’s Bagels and Smoked Fish  146 Chambers St at Hudson St. Open Mon-Fri 6:30 am-7:00 pm; Sat & Sun 6:30 am - 6:00 pm. 

Other locations: Grand Central 370 Lexington Ave. and Flatiron 40 E. 23 St.

bagel egg and cheese sandwich

True to their name, Zucker's is known for its high-quality smoked fish - they have 14 different kinds, including the specialty "pastrami" style lox.

Use our Tribeca Self-Guided Walking Tour or join us on our Lower Manhattan Tour.

TIP: This store is just a few blocks away from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. After your bagel, walk down and see the beautiful fountains at the memorial site.


Financial District

Leo's Bagels  3 Hanover Square.  Open Mon-Fri 6 am-6 pm; Sat & Sun 7 am-5 pm

When you are exploring the Wall Street area or getting ready to ride the free Staten Island Ferry, Leo's is a great place to get a bagel done right.

You can get a classic New York bagel covered with a wide variety of cream cheeses, like the ever-popular scallion cream cheese. You can even get tofu "cream cheese" for those lactose intolerant or vegan.

Tips From Tourists

Leo's is one of the most popular spots for bagels in the Financial District, but according to the members of our New York Travel Tips group, it's absolutely worth the wait!


Lower East Side

Russ & Daughters  179 Houston St. at Orchard St. Open Mon-Fri 8 am-8 pm; Sat 8 am-7 pm; Sun 8 am-5:30 pm

Since 1914, this family-owned eatery remains NYC's favorite store to get a bagel sandwich with cream cheese and slices of lox (similar to smoked salmon).

On their menu, this is called the "classic", and though it will set you back about $10, it's big enough to share with someone. This is a quintessential New York experience!

For more on Russ & Daughters check out our Lower East Side Food Tour and Lower East Side self-guided tour.

In addition to the original Houston Street location, there is now a Russ and Daughters Cafe on Orchard Street.


Kossar's Bialys  367 Grand Street at Essex St. Open daily 6 am-8 pm.

It is not just about bialys at the legendary Kossar's. Kossar's bagels are pretty great too! Going on 80 years, they added bagels to their menu in 2013.

This bagel shop is also one of the stops on Free Tours by Foot’s Lower East Side Food Tour. Don't miss it!

Though this post is about bagels, we do recommend that you try a bialy.

Watch the video above to find out more about this classic Jewish bread product.


NoLiTa

Black Seed Bagels  170 Elizabeth Street at Spring St. Open Daily 7 am - 4 pm

The bagels here are not 100% New York style, but they ARE amazing. They are a hybrid of Montreal-style bagels and New York-style bagels.

Despite being fussy about our bagels, New Yorkers are on board with Black Seed, so much so that there are other locations all over the city.

You can find Black Seed Bagels in Brooklyn HeightsEast Village, and the Financial District inside the Brookfield Center.

Here's the twist: they are boiled in honey-sweetened water and baked in a wood-burning oven. (Fancy, schmancy!)


Greenwich Village

Bagels on the Square  7 Carmine St at 6th Ave. Open every day 24 hours!

What makes this a great bagel shop is not just the excellent bagels but the long list of cream cheese flavors they have.

Just to name a few: Sun-Dried Tomato, Chive & Garlic,  Bacon Horseradish, Raisin Walnut, and more.

They also have a wide variety of low-fat cream cheese flavors and tofu “cream cheese”.

You'll see many people on the weekends enjoying huge bagels sitting in the small park just across the street.

Join our free Greenwich Village walking tour and your guide can point out this store.

You can also take a look at our guide to Greenwich Village for suggestions of things to do before or after your bagel.


Murray's Bagels  500 Avenue of the Americas. Open Mon-Fri 6:00 am-9:00 pm; Sat/Sun 6:00 am-8:00 pm

Making bagels for 20 years, Murray's Bagels is always on the Top Ten Bagels lists.

It's as simple as that! You cannot go wrong at Murray's.


Chelsea

Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Company 286 8th Ave. Open 6:30 am to 3 pm.

This popular bagel chain has several locations, none of which are actually in Brooklyn.

Rather, you can find them in Chelsea, Greenwich Village and Astoria in Queens. (See the website for all the locations and hours).

Their bagels are huge, fluffy, and slightly chewy. You will likely encounter a line, but the wait is worth it.

The selection of cream cheeses is the zaniest around. In addition to plain and the other standard flavors, they have Jalapeno Asiago, Honey Bacon Sriracha, Cannoli, and many more.

Tips From Tourists

This is such a popular place that even visitors from halfway across the world will make special orders so that they can get their bagels!


BROOKLYN

Williamsburg

The Bagel Store, 754 Metropolitan Ave at Graham Ave. Open Mon to Fri 6 am - 6 pm; Sat & Sun 7 am - 6 pm

You’ve probably been curious about the neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, known for its hip, artsy scene and colorful characters.

The Bagel Store has brought even more color to the ‘hood. While known for their hand-rolled, huge bagels, their claim to fame is their Rainbow Bagel.

rainbow bagel

It is exactly what you imagine it to be: all the tastiness of a great bagel combined with the beauty of a rainbow.

They also have some really interesting cream cheese flavors like Birthday Cake, Nutella, Pumpkin Pie, Olive Pimento, and Bacon/Cheddar.

Maybe this isn’t your classic breakfast bagel place but it sure sounds like fun. Take your colorful bagel to go and check out some awesome graffiti and street art.

Use our guide Williamsburg Street Art Tour to discover the best art out there.


Park Slope

Bagel Hole  400 7th Avenue and 13th St. Open Mon to Fri 7 am- 6 pm; Sat 7 am-5 pm, Sun 7 am-4 pm

Year after year, this non-pretentious bagel shop is on the top ten lists of best bagels in NYC.

That’s because they boil their bagels (as great bagels should be) while newer shops steam before baking, sacrificing the fluffy element a bagel should have.

Their bagels are not gigantic, they are normal size! Chewy inside, and a slightly crispy exterior, just what a bagel should be.

If you haven’t considered visiting Park Slope, there is so much more than just incredible bagels. This historic and charming neighborhood just near Prospect Park is worth a visit.

Check out our Park Slope and Prospect Park Self-guided tour to help you find your way!


DUMBO

La Bagel Delight  104 Front Street at Adams St. Open Mon to Fri 6 am-6 pm; Sat 7 am - 5 pm, Sun 7 am-4 pm

Admittedly, these are not ‘off-the-charts’ bagels. They are, however, very good bagels, loved by the locals of the wonderful neighborhood of DUMBO.

This is the area just off of the Brooklyn Bridge that you are sure to be walking across during your visit.

Chewy, fluffy, and human-sized, you can get a great bagel with classic cream cheese flavors.

They also have a huge variety of custom-made sandwiches for both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike.

DUMBO is a neighborhood that is best visited with a guide to see the best sights.

We offer pay-what-you-wish walking tours of the Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO. Join us before or after your bagel!

And if you are curious how DUMBO got its name (no, it's not named after Disney's loveable elephant), read our post on What does the acronym DUMBO stand for?"


HISTORY OF THE NEW YORK BAGEL 

As far back as the 1600s Eastern European Jewish communities were eating bagels.

But 400 years ago, this round, baked food with a hole in the middle was not called a bagel.

History shows the linguistic roots of the name. In Yiddish (a language combining German, Hebrew, and English) the word beygel was used.

This word itself was derived from the Middle High German word bouc and Old High German word boug, both of which mean bracelet or ring.

Yet another German word, bügel, is the name for a round bread loaf.

The New York bagel story began in the late 1800s.

Among the millions of Eastern European Jews who emigrated to America were Polish people who brought their traditional foods with them.

Savory foods like knishbialy, and the round bread with a hole in the middle, now called a bagel, became familiar foods to all New Yorkers regardless of ethnicity.

Here in NYC, bagels quickly became a popular and affordable food staple. Why have plain toast for breakfast when you could have a hearty bagel to start your day?

The first bagels came in four basic flavors: plain, sesame, poppy, and salt.  

As the years passed, the winds of change brought an egg, cinnamon raisin, 'everything', onion, and garlic.

Today, more and more modern flavors abound.  There's sun-dried tomato, blueberry, chocolate, pizza, and jalapeño, to name a few.

No doubt, the bagel makers of the old would be puzzled by the new breed of bagel. You can almost hear them saying, "A rainbow bagel?!? C'mon, give me a break!

No matter what you choose, whatever combination, color, flavor, and topping, you can't go wrong if you go to any of the bagel shops above. Enjoy!

About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: November 28th, 2023
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