New York Classics: Zucker's Bagels

Where a bagel isn't just a bagel

When we have a fever, and the only thing that will cure it is cream cheese and lox on a poppyseed bagel, we know where to get our fix: Zucker's in Tribeca, where there's more going on than bialys and schmear.

"We do a lot of little things that people don't see," says founder Matt Pomerantz–who coincidentally also started a little bakeshop called Murray's Bagels in the 1990s.

All of the bagels ($1.15 to $1.45 each) are hand-rolled, kettle-boiled and slow-baked in a "big, inefficient oven" to get the proper texture. The pickles and sauerkraut that top corned beef stacked high on Orwasher's sliced Jewish rye ($9.95) come from nearby Brooklyn Brinery.

And that large coffee? It's brewed from La Colombe beans.

Now in its seventh year in Tribeca, Zucker's opened a second location in Murray Hill at the turn of 2013. At both outposts, the deli-slash-smoked fish house keeps a close eye on tradition, with a laser focus on "doing things right."

Freshness is a priority, even in the smallest details: When we recently bit into a dense, chewy marble rye bagel slathered with house-whipped scallion cream cheese, it was a singular Lucky's tomato slice that won our hearts: juicy, ruby-red and not at all mealy.

All 15 varieties of smoked salmon are smoked locally, and a superlative, chunky whitefish salad ($3.95 for a quarter pound) is made fresh from whole jumbo whitefish fileted and deboned in-house.

It's this attention to quality, as well as touch of the "more is more" mentality, that makes Zucker's stand out from the pack.

Pomerantz says, "We always give our customers a little bit too much. If you give the exact right amount, 50 percent of your customers think you didn't give them enough."