If you’re dairy-free and also a bagel lover, you probably understand the awkwardness of this specific intersection: without the classic cream cheese spread on your bagel to choose from, the pickings for dairy-free bagel fillings are pretty slim. Not going to lie, there are definitely wonderful DF bagel and filling pairings out there (cinnamon raisin bagel and almond butter, everything bagel and avocado with eggs, plain bagel, and hummus, the list goes on…), but I do get curious about the famous toasted-bagel-and-a-thick-spread-of-cream-cheese combo every now and so often…But if you’re like me — a dairy-free cream cheese curious bagel-lover swinging by NYC who’s grabbing a bagel breakfast with some friends at Brooklyn Bagel — you’re in for some luck.

First of all, I have to mention that our trip to Brooklyn Bagel was very deliberate. It really couldn’t have been any more pre-planned and highly anticipated once I saw the pictures of the gigantic variety of schmears they had. Highly reminiscent of the heaping, shmancy-fancy mounds of gelato you’d see at some gelaterias, the pictures showed glorious numbers of schmear and huge amounts of each of them. And on top of that, they had three (!!!) DF cream cheese fillings to choose from, which were all variations on a tofu base. My dear friends and fellow bagel aficionados Danielle and Will agreed to the Brooklyn Bagel breakfast for the next morning. As a big fan of tofu, bagels, and breakfast with friends, I slept quite well that night, having much to look forward to.

When we got to Brooklyn Bagel at Union Square, we were greeted by a long line of customers that almost reached the entrance, but the line moved speedily as do most NYC lines do (I actually don’t live here so I might be wrong). Delightfully serving Astoria and Manhattan for over 20 years, Brooklyn Bagel prides themselves in their hand-rolled and kettle-boiled bagels, which are only made with unbleached and unbromated flour that makes it good for your gut. Their bagels were even voted Food Network’s favorite NYC bagels! Brooklyn Bagel also offers mini gluten-free bagels, baked goods, and a variety of sandwiches and wraps in addition to their bagel menu.

Isabelle Lee

We took turns admiring the giant display of bagel schmears IRL, and there was a gorgeous array of flavors and colors of schmears, like strawberry, honey bacon sriracha, cannoli, cinnamon walnut raisin, and the weekly flavor of the week: churro!

I ordered a toasted everything bagel with tuna salad and tofu scallion cream cheese for a filling breakfast — the absolute key to successfully exploring NYC with friends is definitely a delicious, satisfying breakfast. I received my bagel within a matter of minutes, and I could feel it was hefty. With the joyful weight of the bagels in our hands, we strolled to a bench in Washington Square Park to enjoy our breakfasts. Danielle ordered a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel, and Will ordered a plain bagel with cinnamon walnut raisin schmear along with a morning coffee.

I must say, Brooklyn Bagel did not skimp on the bagel filling. The tuna salad and tofu scallion cream cheese were filled to almost the width of the bagel slice itself, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The filling to bagel ratio was pure perfection. At first bite, I could definitely tell the bagel was going to be one of the best I’ve ever had — it was dense without being tough, and there was that seamless transition from the light crispiness to the glutinous midsection in the bagel. Tuna salad can sometimes be tricky to pair, as it can taste a little too salty. But the tuna salad, tofu scallion cream cheese, and everything bagel combo did not disappoint: the everything bagel added just enough kick to the bagel ensemble without being overwhelming, and the tofu scallion cream cheese added a lovely layer of mild tofu flavor and fluffiness. As someone who’s trying a bagel with cream cheese for the first time: I think I get it now.

Isabelle Lee

After we all confirmed the deliciousness of our individual bagel orders, we successfully (of course, thanks to the breakfast) explored NYC the rest of the day. I actually couldn’t finish the other half of my bagel and was perfectly satisfied with one half, so I saved the other half for my flight back home at LGA. Surprisingly, the bagel held up strong even after existing for six hours in my tote bag. It still retained much if not all of its original texture and wasn’t soggy or unpleasant in any shape or form. Hmm. The magic of tofu scallion cream cheese?

With all that said, I cannot recommend the tofu cream cheese with any sort of bagel or other bagel filling at Brooklyn Bagel for those curious to try out DF cream cheese. It’s fluffy, it’s light, it’s got protein, and it’s absolutely delicious. I still think about the tofu scallion cream cheese filling several days after my NYC trip, so if anyone’s got the recipe, please contact me, ASAP.