I’m from Chicago, where there are some pretty delicious bagel places (like CBA—yum). But when I snagged a summer internship that would give me the opportunity to spend two and a half months in NYC, I started to anticipate what it might be like to experience my go-to breakfast item in arguably, the bagel capital of the world. Would my Chicago favorites stack up to the best of the best

There was only one way to find out, and that was to try as many trendy bagel spots as I could. With a vision of tasting dozens of everything bagels with lox schmear throughout the summer, this midwestern girl got the scoop on whether NYC bagels really live up to the hype.

Murray's Bagels

The first New York bagel I tried was from Murray’s bagels in Greenwich Village. After finishing up my first day at my internship, I decided to get down to the real business of investigating the nearby bagel scene. I decided to order ahead of time so that it would be ready by the time I got there, but this was a beginner's mistake. Regardless of where you go, you should order your bagel in-store and eat it right away. If you order in advance, the bagel might not be fresh out of the oven anymore, and you'll miss out on that nice crunchy outside around the warm soft center. 

My next mistake was ordering a sesame bagel. Normally I would recommend sesame, but I quickly learned that in New York everything bagels are just that—everything. The everything bagels from Murray's were salty, almost nutty, and packed with a ton of flavor. You'll feel like an authentic New Yorker in just a few bites. 

My first and last time at Murray’s Bagels was not the best experience, but I chalk it up to my own rookie mistakes. I was not as impressed as I was hoping to be, but I'd give these bagels another shot the next time I'm in the city.

H&H Bagels

My next stop renewed my enthusiasm for the NYC bagel. I went to H&H Bagels on 2nd and 81st for an everything bagel to go. With my first bite I was taken aback. I was hoping for a soft, chewy bagel and instead got something a bit crunchier than I was accustomed to. Yet as the flavors of the bagel settled into my taste buds, I realized I shouldn't have judged it so quickly.

bagel, cream, cheese, cream cheese
Chandler Seed

H&H bagels are briny, earthy bagels that in the very best way, taste like the streets of New York. H&H bagels became my form of crack—I couldn't get enough of them. I would wake up early before work and go out of my way to get them, eat them for snacks when I wasn't even hungry, and get them for dinner and be totally satisfied.

Featured on Seinfeld and Sex and the City, these bagels are classically New York. While H&H has shut down and changed ownership in the time since these shows, these Midtown bagels are still an incredible find for locals and out-of-towners alike.


Bagelworks on 1st and 67th was nearby my apartment, but I was so stuck in my H&H ways that I didn't get to try it out until my last week in NYC. This was truly tragic as Bagelworks is a delicious Upper East Side gem. The best part is that you can see them molding, boiling, and baking their bagels right there in their tiny, often over-crowded store.

The bagels were perfectly doughy in the middle with a crisp outside shell, just like a New York bagel should be. Boiling bagels is an essential component to the classic New York taste, and Bagelworks takes advantage of the method to enhance the flavor.  

Absolute Bagels

My last meal in New York was obviously a bagel. It was from none other than the unassuming storefront of Absolute Bagels, which is constantly filled to capacity with Columbia students and Upper West Siders. I was surprised when I stepped inside and the decor was reminiscent of a Thai restaurant rather than an old fashioned bagel shop, but I was intrigued: what could be more New York than the blending of cultures around a universally loved treat such as bagels? 

Owned and operated by a Thai family, this place is the real deal. Whereas H&H had the salty NY flavor and Bagelworks had that simultaneous doughiness and crunch I look for, Absolute Bagels had it all: an even crispier outer crust and softer inside than Bagelworks with a salty, classic “everything” taste that coerced me into eating another half. These bagels made me believe in love at first bite. 

If you’re on the UES, definitely make your way to H&H or Bagelworks. If you find yourself way up west or anywhere even a subway ride away, head to Absolute Bagels ASAP: you won’t regret it. In fact, I’m eating my third Absolute Bagel of the day right now. 

So skip the trendy spots for rainbow bagels and BECs and instead explore NY through its authentic, hole-in-the-wall bagel shops. The best bagels you will have will come from storefronts that are neither monumental nor aesthetically pleasing and will always take you by surprise. This midwestern girl was impressed, New York.