MANHATTAN – It may not have originated here in the Big Apple, the boiled then baked doughy treat known as the bagel is a New York staple, synonymous with lazy Saturday or Sunday mornings across five boroughs.
Whether its the foundation of a classic bacon, egg and cheese sandwich or smothered in cream cheese, lox and capers, there’s almost no wrong way to eat a New York bagel. Almost.
Perfect as it is right out of the oven, a true New York bagel shouldn’t be toasted– a faux pas in that area will draw well-deserved ridicule, as former Mayor Bill de Blasio found out when he described his perfect bagel as being toasted in 2020. This is the same man who infamously ate pizza with a knife and fork.
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However, despite dozens of small mom and pop shops, bakeries, restaurants serving bagels here on the Upper East Side, it’s not necessarily easy to find a good one.
So, we decided to do the leg work for you, so you don’t have to ruin your morning with a bad bagel.
Upper East Site turned to our loyal readers, surveying two hundred neighbors to find the very best bagels on the Upper East Side.
They came through with a list you’ll want to bookmark so it’s handy next weekend.
1. The Bagel Shop
Located at 1659 Third Avenue, at the corner of East 93rd Street, the Bagel Shop has been a hit since opening its doors on the Upper East Side in 2016. It leads the pack with 47 votes.
Perpetually busy and bustling with customers, it’s no wonder why. Their oversized bagels have a perfectly crisp outside with a chewy center so tasty it doesn’t even need a schmear. But if you choose to schmear, The Bagel Shop has a selection of spreads that is second to none.
Chipotle, bacon scallion, horseradish, bleu cheese, olive pimento, sun-dried tomato, chipotle and nacho cheese Doritos cream cheese make up their savory cream cheese flavor selections— the latter turning your bagel in to a taco-like delight with bits of crunch inside.
For those with a sweet tooth try the apple cinnamon, Oreo cookie, blueberry, chocolate chip, cookie dough, cinnamon raison with walnut or the decadent birthday cake cream cheese, which is best served on a rainbow bagel.
2. Tal Bagels
New York Magazine once called Tal’s the best bagels on the Upper East Side, describing them in 2007 as dense and chewy with a strong skin for crunch.
Tal Bagels apparently lost some ground since those ‘best bagel’ days, but with 40 votes from Upper East Siders, they still trounce most of their competition.
So stop by one of Tal Bagel’s two UES shops, located at 1228 Lexington Avenue at the corner of East 83rd Street and at 333 East 86th street, between First and Second Avenues.
3. H&H Bagels
Famously mentioned as Cosmo Kramer’s place of employment in the 90s hit sitcom Seinfeld, H&H Bagels came in third place among Upper East Side shops, with 27 votes.
H&H has been in business in the Big Apple since 1972, and even describes itself as being “like no other bagel in the world.” In fact, it still uses the original recipe and the same artisanal water fifty years later.
The UES shop is located at 1551 Second Avenue, between East 80th and 81st Streets. Don’t forget to grab a black and white cookie while you’re there.
4. Bagel Bob’s on York
One thing is for certain, Bob definitely knows his bagels.
The popular Yorkville shop, located at 1641 York Avenue location between East 86th and 87th Streets, has been serving the Upper East Side for more than two decades and ranked fourth our survey of readers with 24 votes.
Bagel Bob’s on York makes its bagels the ‘old fashioned way,’ baking them fresh throughout the day. They make both the perfect foundation for your favorite egg sandwich and the perfect vehicle to consume copious amounts of cream cheese.
Rounding out the top five is Bagelworks with 20 votes. On the weekends, be prepared to wait because the line stretches down the block from its location at 1229 First Avenue, between East 66th and 67th Streets.
Garnering rave reviews for freshness of its bagels— sometimes coming straight from the oven— as well as their expansive selection of cream cheeses, Bagelworks is also known for loading up the lox on its bagels
6. Pick A Bagel
In sixth place is Pick A Bagel, located at 1475 Second Avenue, between East 76th and 77th Streets, with 13 votes from Upper East Siders.
Established in 1988, this Lenox Hill fixture serves bagels with a good chew— crispy on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. Just like a NYC bagel should be.
Although it doesn’t have as large of a selection of spreads as other shops Pick A Bagel has your standard flavors as well as a few extras like sun-dried tomato, olive and strawberry cream cheese.
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7. B&B Bagels
Newcomer B&B Bagels, located at 1370 First Avenue at the corner of East 73rd Street, rounds out our list with an honorable mention and a total of five votes from Upper East Siders for its perfectly baked exterior and deliciously chewy inside.
While that isn’t a show-stopping number of votes, B&B Bagels has only been open since mid-May and has already won over some neighbors, beating out a dozen more established bagel shops on the Upper East Side which received three or fewer votes.
Plan your own brunch-time bagel crawl with our map below.