Absolute Bagels: 2708 Broadway between 107th and 108th streets (tel. 212/932-2052). The egg bagels, hot out of the oven, melt in your mouth, and their whitefish salad is perfectly smoky, not overpowering.
Black Seed Bagels: 1188 Broadway at 29th St. (www.blackseedbagels.com). All hail the Montreal-style bagel, which is chewier and sweeter than its NYC cousin (before baking, the bagels are parboiled in honey water, and the oven is wood-fired). I approve, and like the range of creative toppings. See website for four other NYC locations.
Ess-a-Bagel: 831 Third Ave. between 50th and 51st streets (www.ess-a-bagel.com; tel. 212/980-1010). When it comes to size, Ess-a-Bagel’s are the best of the biggest: plump, chewy, and oh so satisfying.
Kossar’s Bialys: 367 Grand St. at Essex Street (www.kossars.com; tel. 877/4-BIALYS [424-2597]). Bialys—flat, yeast rolls with savory fillings—are the star offerings here, but don’t ignore Kossar’s bagels. Also hand-rolled, they have a slightly crunchy exterior with a tender, moist middle. Sure, you came for the bialys, but you will leave with both.
Murray’s Bagels: 500 Sixth Ave. between 12th and 13th streets (tel. 212/462-2830), and 242 Eighth Ave. at 23rd St. (www.murraysbagelschelsea.com; tel. 646/638-1335). There’s nothing like a soft, warm bagel to begin your day, and Murray’s does them beautifully. Their smoked fish goes perfectly on their bagels.
Sadelles: 463 W. Broadway near Prince Street (www.sadelles.com; tel. 212/254-3000). High-gluten flour, and a pre-baking parboil in barley-malt syrup, give these bagels just the right amount of yeastiness and crunch. The glamorous SoHo setting, in which the bagels are stacked on dowels and placed as centerpieces on the tables (this is a sit-down restaurant, though there is a takeaway counter), announce the gentrification of this once humble bread product. The smoked fish toppings are ethereally soft and tasty.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.