15 Best Bagels In New York City, Ranked

Bagels are a glorious food. Simple and sturdy, they feed everyone from morning commuters to marathon runners. They come in a variety of sweet or savory flavors with endless toppings or spreads, and a good bagel can absolutely make your morning. A bad bagel, on the other hand, can break it. 

Nearly as controversial as the great national pizza debate (plot twist: New Jersey has the best pizza), depending on who you ask, New York City's best bagel might be in Queens or on the Lower East Side. It might be thin and crusty or softball-sized and fluffy. Maybe it's all about the schmear options, the sourdough starter, the seating inside and total vibe, and sometimes it just has to be a sausage-egg-and-cheese. We're realistic and understand that everyone has different bagel needs, so we've ranked the 15 best bagels in New York City to help you narrow down your search. One thing's true: There's a perfect bagel here for you.

15. Bagel Pub

Bagel Pub has been churning out their neighborhood favorite bagels consistently for years. They've claimed a spot on our list because their loyal fan base simply can't seem to stop spreading the love. Their bagels are most popular as vehicles for their incredible assortment of more than 20 different cream cheeses. You can find everything from a hot-pink strawberry cream cheese to the ever-popular scallion cream cheese. 

The bagels are fresh, and if you are a fan of a softer, drier texture, this is a good option for you. The actual bagel dough lacks flavor and chewiness, and the bagel sandwiches are unpredictable when it comes to how generous or conservative the filling is. With the competition in NYC as fierce as it is, everything about the bagel, even the seed coverage, is important. Having expanded to four locations in Brooklyn, this is a great spot to visit before your picnic in Prospect Park, or on your way to the Brooklyn Museum or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

14. Bagelsmith

For a sturdy, chunky bagel that ventures away from chewy and leans more toward the bready side, set your destination to Bagelsmith in Williamsburg. Geared to the grab-and-go lunch crowd, you won't find much seating here, but you will find the makings of a hearty meal. 

When you finally step in the compact shop after waiting in line outside, don't be thwarted by the small selection — it's everything you need for a filling lunch. According to the bagel-going crowd on Tripadvisor, there's a certain je ne sais quoi that keeps bringing them back. The bagels themselves are satisfyingly large, have a dense texture, and very little chew. They spend a minimal amount of time in the oven so you might miss the well-browned flavor on the crust. In fact, there is almost no bagel skin — the outer layer that develops from boiling before baking — present. The flavor is very mild and since they don't pack competing flavors on their own, definitely load these bagels with sandwich fixings or a flavorful cream cheese.

13. Bergen Bagels

With one of the fluffier bagels on our list, Bergen Bagels, with three locations in Brooklyn, is where you go if you need the equivalent of eating a whole meal. This tasty establishment boasts bagels that are "freshly baked around the clock" — and it shows! On any given visit, your paper bag of a baker's dozen will feel toasty warm in your arms on your walk home. The texture is on the spongy-side with an average skin — not too crispy, but definitely there. 

With a good selection of cream cheeses, this is the spot to visit for a classic bagel and schmear. Compared to many other city bagels on this list, Bergen Bagels is on the pricier side, has inconsistent seed coverage, and often scant sandwiches. If you're headed here on the weekends, you'll need to wake up early or choose off-hours to avoid long waits.

12. Orwashers Bakery

After baking some of the most notable breads in New York City for over 100 years, Orwashers Bakery knows a thing or 10 about bagels. They have the first of the thin-and-petite style bagels on our list. Although the puffy, thick bagels of the world are tempting because of their heft, don't count out the little guys. An Orwashers seeded bagel is noticeably chewy and has a flavorful skin with an even coating of seeds.

The lack of fluffy middle is a boon for flavor because the overload of a bready center in other bagels often just means more of that –unseasoned bread. Here you'll get plenty of flavor in every bite. The only downside for a bagel-seeker is the lack of variety. You won't find baskets of bagels and buckets of cream cheese as far as the eye can see. As a bakery, they specialize in many types of breads. Their cases and shelves are packed with gorgeous sandwiches, black-and-white cookies, focaccias, and pastries, so stop by if you have a hungry group that might be interested in something other than a bagel.

11. Tompkins Square Bagels

If you're hankering for a creative bagel deli sandwich or a solid breakfast sandwich, take a jaunt over to Tompkins Square Bagels. The bagels are the star, naturally, but almost every fan raves about their favorite TSB bagel sandwich that has become the meal they rely on as part of their daily routine. Honestly, where else can you get pepper-crusted sirloin, cheddar, onion, and roasted peppers on a bagel (The Brooklyn Gino) or an elevated Pizza Bagel with house-made marinara to remind you of your childhood, but then promptly register your current glow up?

With thick bagels that edge toward a denser crumb and a mild flavor, there's no need to worry if your bagel will hold up a chicken cutlet sandwich or juicy sausage, egg, and cheese. Speaking of — head here for an afternoon BEC that will exceed even the hangriest expectations, because toward the back of the shop they're griddling up breakfast sandwiches from open to close.

10. Black Seed Bagels

There are some bagels that are basically rolls for sandwiches, some that are complemented by a necessary streak of cream cheese, and then, there are those that have been carefully crafted to taste flavorful on their own. Yep. You can just take a bite out of the plain, undressed bagel for a satisfying snack. That is what you'll find at Black Seed Bagels. Dough that gets some time for fermentation often develops the best flavors, and the creators of these bagels have added subtle flavors to every step. From the dough, to the boil, to the wood-burning oven, a Black Seed bagel is all about texture. 

Combining features from a classic New York-style bagel and its thinner, airier cousin in Montreal, a unique texture is achieved. In fact, one of the best features of this bagel is the toasty skin created by the honey-water boil and the high heat from the wood-fired oven. The crisp bagel exterior makes way for a chewy center that immediately requires some strength behind the bite. This bagel has excellent seed coverage and is perfect for those with lighter appetites, as it's on the smaller side.

9. Bo's Bagels

For a bag of bagels that aims to please everyone at the brunch party you're hosting, stop by Bo's Bagels in Harlem. These bagels have the perfect middle-of-the-road size and texture, sure to appeal to all different preferences. They're not bulky, but not diminutive, and they have just enough chewiness on the inside and crispiness on the outside without being crunchy. A favorite of fans and reviewers alike, you'll be drawn in by the smell wafting out into the street. 

Although the options aren't endless, the bagel variety that they make is strong because it is specific. Be a little adventurous and try their Za'atar Blueberry bagel or the Pumpernickel Cranberry. Their menu has all the classics and some deli sandwich options, but try out their specialties like the Nacho Camacho or Bo's Chopped Cheese for a real treat. Word to the wise: Grab some napkins because they don't skimp on the sandwich fillings here.

8. Murray's Bagels

In a city that has as many bagel places as Italy has gelato shops, you might start to think that just any bagel store will do. Then, you come across a place like Murray's Bagels, and you begin to realize why every New Yorker has "their" bagel shop. As soon as you walk inside you get old-school New York vibes — well-worn wood floors, brick walls, impossibly small tables that somehow three grown adults can sit at. Even the font on their black-and-white menu reminds you that they're working with time-honored traditions here. 

The bagels are hand-rolled and show off a nice twisty groove after baking. The flavor is light, but just slightly sweet, and the texture is spongy without being too dense. If you're looking for a bubbly, chewy crust, then this might not be the bagel for you. But if a sturdy bagel and choosing from numerous different mountains of flavored cream cheese is exciting to you, then you should stop by.

7. Utopia Bagel

Queens already has a lot to offer in regard to delicious eats, and now the word is out on one of their best kept secrets: Utopia Bagel. As we cross over to the second half of our list, the differences between these noteworthy bagels become fine. They're all stunners at this point.

It's fitting for Utopia Bagel to lead the way because the fans have spoken: Their bagels are glorious. The first thing you'll notice is just how substantial they are. If you decide to get one of their specialty sandwiches (and we highly suggest that you do), you might wonder if you should take half of it home for later. Our suggestion: Sit down at one of their numerous tables and dive in. Take a break and then go for the second half. Hand-rolled and kettle-boiled fresh daily, you'll want to finish your sandwich in those precious moments right after it's made.

6. Bagel Hole

The phrase "a hole in the wall" was created for this place. Tiny but powerful, Bagel Hole bagels are not afraid to be different. This is the only bagel shop on our list (dare we say, in NYC ...) that unabashedly goes for a well-done bagel. Make no mistake. This does not mean burnt by any means, but thoroughly baked to a toasty brown. When you've had so many of the bulky, under-cooked, doughy variety, this smaller, crusty and chewy husk is a welcome change.

They famously don't even have a toaster because these gems are fresh and crispy, needing no additional toasting. Surprisingly, once you bite through that crunchy layer, you're greeted with an interior that is neither too soft nor too dense — a fine crumb ready for cream cheese. The dough is slightly chewy and seeded bagels are covered on the bottom side only. Stop here to pick up a single bagel and schmear on the go or if you need a dozen or two. As it is just a tiny place with no seating, and a refined menu (there's no giant deli counter or 20-foot-long cream cheese case), you won't want to come here with a group.

5. H&H Bagels

For an exemplary New York City bagel, there are few places better than H&H Bagels. Thanks to the discernable and expansive hole in the middle, these bagels are wider than they are tall, which helps them maintain their chewiness and keeps them from becoming too soft or doughy. Although some might consider a bagel with a closed-up center better suited for cream cheese or an egg sandwich, there is also the opinion that considers the filling-exposed center the best part. 

An H&H bagel features a smooth, shiny skin and a texture that somehow walks the tightrope between airy and chewy. They serve up bagel sandwiches with perfectly balanced ratios of bagel to filling, and you can't go wrong with any of their cream cheese options. The only thing keeping them out of the top three is the sparse coverage of seeds and other toppings. Flanking either side of Central Park, this is a great place to stop after a stroll.

4. Pick A Bagel

Pick A Bagel has been hand-rolling delectable rings of dough since 1988, and when a bagel is as substantial, flavorful, soft and chewy as each Pick A Bagel is, you make meal exceptions every time you're in the neighborhood. The bagels have a well-baked crust, a texture that's both dense and soft, excellent chewiness, and the dough itself has a subtle malty flavor. If you like a bagel with seeds or other toppings, you'll be pleased to hear that the coverage is excellent. 

Each location has a full counter showcasing an array of cream cheeses, spreads, and appetizing (different bagel toppings including smoked and cured fishes). Be sure to come here on an empty stomach because your bagel will be absolutely stacked with whatever you decide to fill it with. The hot breakfast sandwiches are no exception, and the deli sandwiches are of mind-boggling proportions, which makes Pick A Bagel the perfect place for you to stop during both your morning commute and lunch break.

3. Ess-a-Bagel

Albeit delicious, it's a difficult task discerning the microscopic differences between the top 15 tastiest, most iconic NYC breakfast breads. Rounding out our top three bagel shops had to be the best bagels plus bagel experience. The bagel experience is 90% bagel + 10% bagel store vibe, and Ess-a-Bagel wants you to remember your bagel experience when you leave. 

When you walk into one of the three full-service Ess-a-Bagel locations scattered along the East Side of Manhattan (they have a station in the Time Out Market, as well), sure, you'll notice a line — but you'll also notice a tad more organization. Cleverly, they've separated the bagel pick-up station from the deli counter, so if you're just dropping in for a paper bag full of stellar bagels you don't have to wait behind the deli line to pay. Each location has seating, and the décor, while inviting like a restaurant, keeps the casual deli counter appeal. The bagels are incredible. They're hefty, tall, and have excellent chewiness without being tough. They're all hand-rolled without shying-away from the noticeable twist in the finished product. 

If you like to pull off hunks of your bagel before eating it, you'll love the pull-apart quality these have. The flavor is addictive — malty with a subtle pretzel-like flavor — and, if you get the Everything bagel, even the seed mix they use is delicious. Get a full sandwich or keep it simple; either way, you'll be saving them in your maps for next time.

2. Tal Bagels

Even if you think you already know your favorite bagel in the land, you need to give Tal Bagels a shot. Not that we want to change your opinion, but we'd hate to see you deprive yourself of a mood-altering flavor experience. With several locations dotted around the mid to upper sections of Manhattan, you can stop by any one of these and feel the comfort of thinking, "I made the right choice." 

From the warm lighting to the intoxicating smell of fresh yeast breads and friendly service, you'll find yourself instinctively ordering six to freeze at home when originally you had planned on just one quick bagel sandwich. We'd like to encourage you to trust your instincts. The bagel has an exceptionally crispy, bubbly exterior, is perfectly chewy, and has excellent seeding coverage. Not the thickest or most massive of the bagel offerings in NYC, but truly, the soft, slightly sweet dough has been crafted with just enough bulk to support any topping without making you feel like you just ate a whole loaf of bread. Tal Bagel wins our number two spot with a bagel that reassures you all of your life choices have been correct.

1. Shelsky's

Finding the absolute best bagel in the city that has the nation's best bagels seemed like a daunting task ... until we tasted Shelsky's. Suddenly the ranking contest changed to a battle for number two. Shelsky's has everything you hope for from a classic NYC Jewish deli: numerous cream cheese flavors, smoked fish, cold salads, and a good-looking coconut macaroon. It's the kind of place you visit every day for years, move away to Oregon, and when you come back to visit four years later you see the same two elderly besties arguing about the Yankees pitching rotation at their favorite two-top.

Let's get to the business — the bagel is what makes Shelsky's stand out. It has a noticeably fluffy yet toothsome interior, hidden beneath a flavorful crust. This well-baked bagel skin provides just the right amount of chew. The dough has a yeasty and ever-so-subtle sweetness that manages to complement everything from a light swipe of salted butter to a full cream cheese, lox, tomato, and red onion sandwich. It's no surprise that this unmatched flavor is due to the three-day sourdough ferment they use in their dough. The move that seals the deal? A confident, all-over coating with seeds! And while you could really eat this bagel undressed, we suggest you treat yourself to a schmear too. And a knish. And maybe a dozen more bagels for home. After all, these are the best bagels in New York City.