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Ask anyone you know who loves bagels where their favorite spot is and they’ll probably answer quickly and confidently. With an estimated 1,600 bagel shops currently open for business in the U.S., finding the best bagels is a pretty tall order to ask. Finding that perfect bagel also boils down to (no pun intended) personal preference. But no matter what your style, food experts agree that there are a few shops which will please even the most discerning customers.
A bagel is a pretty spectacular choice in the food hierarchy. Dress it up with schmear, veggies, deli meats, or eggs and you’ve got yourself a complete meal in mere minutes, any time of the day. In fact, a recent study found that Americans love breakfast so much that some would even give up a standard dinner for it. A recent poll asked 2,005 adults which they’d rather give up between traditional breakfast foods (like bagels) and dinner entrées, with results showing that people are more willing to abandon the latter (31%) than the former (25%). The poll also asked about the best time to eat traditional American breakfast foods like fried eggs, waffles, cereal or bagels, with sixty-five percent of respondents saying that breakfast foods taste better for dinner, or “brinner.”
Whether it’s morning, day, or night, finding a great bagel is made up of a few key factors. Expert bakers from the King Arthur Baking Company set out define the criteria that makes for a satisfyingly scrumptious bagel, including:
So yeah, when you bite into that perfectly cooked exterior and chewy interior, there’s a lot more thought that goes into the process than one might think. On that note, StudyFinds sought out to find the best bagel shops in the U.S. For our findings, we visited 10 of the leading expert websites to see which authentic bagel joints were rated the best. Our list is ranked based on the most-recommended bagels across these sites. For many of us, it’s impossible try them all, so if we missed your favorite feel free to give them a shout-out in the comments below!
Baking fresh bagels, bialys and baguettes daily for crowds of New Yorkers and tourists alike, Bo’s Bagels has made a huge name for itself in just a few years.
“The result is a shop with bagels that have a crisp exterior and chewy inside, made the traditional way with a 24-hour fermentation, brief boil, and bake. All the classic spreads are available, as well as aggressively creative bagel sandwiches like the Andrew — featuring egg, sausage, bacon, Vermont maple syrup, and scallion cream cheese,” Eater writes.
Andrew Martinez and Ashley Dikos opened up in 2017 to fix the shortage of great bagels in Harlem.
“It’s not just the New York water that makes a good bagel. The owners of BO’s Bagels quickly won over discriminating bagel fans with the recipe they perfected and authentic techniques. Though a relative newcomer to the scene, this shop has made several prominent ‘top bagel’ lists since opening in 2017. Two must-try varieties: Za’atar seasoned and the Black Russian,” Taste of Home writes.
A bagel store, deli, and cafe, Terrace Bagels churns out hand-rolled bagels, made the old fashioned way.
“On a charming street on the border between Brooklyn’s Park Slope and Windsor Terrace neighborhoods sits the cozy Terrace Bagels, turning out near-perfect little rings of malty, chewy dough. Chatting with the countermen while waiting for your order makes for a perfect Brooklyn experience, and these bagels — fluffy, not too sweet, and big — make for a very satisfying meal,” USA Today writes.
The bagel shop just recently celebrated its 30-year-anniversary after opening in 1991.
“Terrace Bagels in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, has that ‘dual-fecta’ of perfect crisp outside and tangy, soft interior with some serious chew. The bagels sell themselves, so [order] only a little cream cheese on a toasted plain or everything bagel,” Epicurious writes.
Bringing Montreal-Style Bagels to Vermont since 1996 and a top critics’ pick, Myer’s Bagels are some of the best bagels you can find outside the Big Apple.
“Myer’s takes Montreal-style bagels, and bring them to New England: thin, chewy, boiled then baked in a wood-fired oven. Alongside classic flavors like sesame and poppy are idiosyncrasies that embrace the shops roots in Montreal and Vermont. In the first case, a Montreal steak-seasoning, and in the latter, a Maple Syrup-flavored,” Thrillist writes.
Owner Lloyd Squires was only 15 when he began making bagels under the tutelage of Myer Lefkowitz. It was 1981 and Mr. Lefkowitz, a survivor of Auschwitz, was an undisputed master of wood-fired Montreal-style bagels, a method he passed on to a young Mr. Squires, according to the shop’s website.
“Enter the no-fuss, cavernous shop, mostly dedicated to the busy production line, and while you may not exactly feel transported north of the border, you know you’re definitely close,” Food and Wine writes.
The Bagel’s Broker’s bagels are both a Los Angeles legend and favorite among locals and tourists alike.
“Bagel Brokers has stepped in to make sure NY-caliber bagels are available to every kale-juice guzzling aspiring influencer in LA. This family-run business, has been slinging homemade bagels since 1987, with every standard you’d find in a classic New York shop, mixed with West Coast influences,” Thrillist writes.
The shop’s bagels are made with high-gluten unbleached wheat flour, a touch of sugar, a hint of salt, yeast and water.
“There are some crazy flavors (jalapeño-Cheddar, etc.) but their plain bagel with lox and schmear is as good as any in New York, and they always seem to be fresh out of the oven. And we hear that they also make a mean bacon, egg, and cheese,” USA Today.
Serving Greenwich Village since 1996, Murray’s Bagels is a household name in the world of New York bagels.
“Owner Adam Pomerantz was a vice president at Merrill Lynch before deciding to become a bagel man, and after apprenticing for a traditional wholesale bagel baker in New Jersey and studying every top bagel in the city he opened this charming little shop, named after his father (who would bring bagels home for the family every Thursday night). The secret? Traditional techniques, and the highest-quality ingredients available,” USA Today writes.
The bagels are hand-rolled and made fresh every day using just a few ingredients.
“The result is a space with large but light bagels with a crackly crust and modest interior chew. Beyond standard cream cheeses, cured fish, and egg fillings, Murray’s specialty is substantial meat and poultry sandwiches, made from salami, hot corned beef, chicken cutlets, and just about any deli meat or fish salad one can think of,” Eater writes.
Honorable mentions include:
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
About the Author
Meaghan Babaker is a journalist and freelance writer previously based out of New York City while working for CBS New York, CBS Local and MSNBC. After moving to Geneva, Switzerland in 2016, she went on to write for Digital Luxury Group, The Travel Corporation and other international publications before joining the editorial team at StudyFinds.
View Meaghan’s article archive
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