Can this be the best bagel in NYC? Since the closing of H&H the NYC bagel industry has had many who’ve tried to take the crown, but maybe we’ve found the new undisputed bagel king.
Let me start by saying that I didn’t even consider the Montreal style bagels when thinking of the best bagels. It’s not that they’re bad, they’re great, but this post is about the best bagel in NYC. Please don’t email me with some bullshit “what about St. FrenchName bagels that you only can get 8 hours away from NYC?” STOP. We’re newyorkers, we don’t give a shit about your bagels until you learn to make an everything, and to make sandwiches with them. Step it up Canada. Just eating a bagel plain all the time? You have thumbs and knives, use them! Throw a little smoked meat in there or maybe some of that amazing smoked salmon. Get creative.
Let’s talk bagels because since I was a kid they’ve changed. They went from these dense, chewy, funky flavored circular breads to fluffy, bland, Portuguese rolls with a hole in the middle. They don’t taste the same they used to. I remember when they started making “jumbo” bagels and at some point they just stopped calling it jumbo and those became your typical bagel. Don’t get me wrong, I love the larger bagels but what I don’t love is how they’ve lost flavor. Don’t give me more of something bad. [ex. Would you rather: 30 minutes of french kissing your dad or 30 seconds of kissing Rihanna? Yup. Your Dad, every time…wait, what?]
There are a few places that get it right, a few places that allow their bagels to develop the flavor they’re supposed to and Bagel Boy may just have gained the top spot. The bagel landscape in NYC is a lot like the fall of a monarchy. H&H was the undisputed king. When they closed up shop there was a power vacuum and many began to start trying and vie for the top spot. Old favorites which had been overlooked such as Ess-A-Bagel keeps up to the top spot until their lower Manhattan location closed and they received some competition from energetic upstarts, primarily Tompkins Square Bagels, Absolute Bagels, and Baz Bagels. Tal, Bagel Store and Bagel Hole each bring something to the table but don’t move the needle when it comes to being my top choice.
Bagel Boy has surprised me, enough to consider it the best bagel currently in NYC. It was always in my top 10 but I didn’t expect it to challenge for the top spot. It’s the Leicester City of bagel shops. They have three locations, two in Brooklyn and one in NJ. I ordered a bagel sandwich from their Bay Ridge location and I was floored. It was perfect. I knew it was a great bagel so I didn’t get it “scooped and double toasted” which is my go-to move with flavorless bagels such as the Europan near my apartment. While it’s preferred with a bland bagel, you should never scoop or toast an amazing bagel. I leave Bagel Boy’s bagels as is. Like adding a few paint strokes to the Mona Lisa. Who the fuck are you? Unless you answered that with “Di Vinci,” you wouldn’t. The bagel itself was covered in the everything mix. I mean, look at it, it’s COVERED. Already a good sign. The smell was funky. It was a sandwich with turkey, Swiss, onions, jalapeños, etc and all I could smell was the bagel itself. That’s another good sign. I bit into it and it was chewy, pliable, fermented, well boiled, had a great body. It was everything a bagel is supposed to be. It was so good I had to go back yesterday and just make sure it wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t. I ordered the exact same sandwich and it was just as good as the what I had before. It’s the first bagel since Ess-A-Bagel that I wish I brought home a few. I never think that. I miss thinking that.
When people ask me where to get a good bagel, I tell them, but I make sure they know not to just to eat it plain or order it with cream cheese and move on. I usually say to get a bacon, egg and cheese, on a toasted everything with ketchup and hot sauce. That’s true for good bagels. Bagel Boy doesn’t make good bagels, they make great bagels. Great enough to eat on its own, seriously. You won’t stop wanting to eat it.
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