The Bagel Ambassador revealed NYC’s top eight bagels on April 14, 2024 - Ahulan

The Bagel Ambassador revealed NYC’s top eight bagels on April 14, 2024


Bagels are one of New York City’s most famous dishes due to its unlimited array of savory and sweet toppings and fillings. New Yorkers often stop at their favorite bagel shop for a quick snack, whether it’s the “everything” bagel with cream cheese or the French toast bagel with peanut butter.

Sam Silverman, the city’s “Bagel Ambassador,” helped us identify the tastiest bagels and teach us about their terrible past. Bagels originated in 17th-century Poland, when anti-Semitic legislation prohibited Jewish breadmaking.

“The loophole to get around it was that they would boil their dough before they baked it, and so it wasn’t technically considered bread,” he explains. Boiled dough gives bagels their crispy outer and chewy interior, thus what began as a loophole to discriminating regulation became their specialty. In the 1900s, Jewish family introduced this recipe to New York and Montreal from Eastern Europe. Since then, both cities have had bagels.


The SpeciaList

Global bagel trade group BagelUp is led by CEO Sam Silverman. Bagel baking lessons and city bagel walking tours are offered by Silverman and his crew. Brooklyn Magazine named him “Bagel Ambassador” and one of 2023’s 50 Most Fascinating People.


Silverman created New York’s inaugural BagelFest in 2019 and now teaches bagel baking courses and walking tours, although he’s loved bagels since boyhood. “My family called me a ‘bageltarian’ because I had a bagel with virtually every single meal,” he adds.

Here are the Bagel Ambassador’s favorite NYC bagel spots

Utopia Bagels Utopia Bagels in Queens is a huge chain with a famous bagel.Utopia Bagels
Utopia Bagels in Queens is a huge chain with a famous bagel.

1. Group-friendly: Utopia Bagels

For nearly 40 years, Whitestone, Queens-based Utopia Bagels has been Silverman’s favorite. “They are one of the most impressive bagel operations that I have ever seen – they hand roll over 100,000 bagels per week,” he adds. “They have over 50 staff members and an enormous oven that’s been in the space since the shop opened that just creates the perfect crisp on a New York bagel.”

Utopia Bagels has bought neighboring companies over the previous decade to expand into a larger area for its expanding popularity. Silverman promised that the hoopla would be worth it when a second Manhattan site opens in summer 2024.

“A hot bagel from Utopia Bagels’ oven is my favorite in the city. He claims it’s unmatched.

This website:

Whitestone, NY 11357, 1909 Utopia Parkway

Call (718) 352 2586

Instagram: @utopiabagels

The unusual, light, and crispy bagels from PopUp Bagels in Greenwich Village please Ardyn Solomon Silverman. Credit: Ardyn SolomonSilverman appreciates PopUp Bagels in Greenwich Village for its unusual, light, and crunchy bagels. Credit: Ardyn Solomon

2. Best for traveling: Pop-up Bagels

Popup Bagels is the youngest bagel shop on our list but has grown swiftly. Adam Goldberg’s Connecticut backyard pandemic experiment launched the business. Since then, they’ve won two Brooklyn BagelFest Best Bagel Awards and launched a Greenwich Village location, with two more coming in 2024.

Sam Silverman’s finest bagel advice

Search for hand-rolled, kettle-boiled bagels. You know they’re fresh then.
Never toast new bagel. It destroys the crunch-chewy texture.
A bagel with basic cream cheese and lox (smoked salmon) is the classic New York Bagel sandwich.
“They have a unique model that is different from virtually every other shop in the city,” he explains. Bagel sandwiches are not made. They recommend small-batch, fresh-out-of-the-oven bagels and ripping and dipping them in cream cheese.” Popup bagels are lighter and crispier than New York Bagels, which are heavier and bulkier.

“Although they are a new trendy shop, they’re definitely here to stay,” he adds. No seating is available in the grab-and-go store, but it doesn’t require a large footprint to be effective. “They just raised 8 million dollars of funding to expand nationally, including from a bunch of celebrity investors,” he adds.

Go to

NYC 10012, 177 Thompson St.

Call 649 2160

On Instagram: @popupbagels

Melissa Hom NYC staple Ess-a-bagel has served bagels around the city for over 40 years.For almost 40 years, NYC iconic Ess-a-bagel has served bagels around the city (Credit: Melissa Hom).

3. Best for bagel sandwiches: Ess-a-bagel

For almost 40 years, Ess-a-bagel has pioneered New York bagel businesses. Silverman says they were the first to manufacture gigantic fluffy bagels, which the city is famed for and make the greatest bagel sandwiches.

“They’re an institution,” Silverman adds. “If someone is coming to the city and they want to get a classic New York bagel, they’re probably gonna go to Ess-a-bagel.”

Ess-a-bagel has four locations in the city: three in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn, so tourists can usually locate one close. The massive wait outside the entrance at all hours is the problem. Good thing Silverman has a hack.

“They actually have a second separate line for customers ordering only bagels and cream cheese,” adds. No bagel sandwiches, but you bypass the wait and they’re always fresh (from the oven). You won’t regret.”


Address: 831 3rd Ave, NY 10022; 108 W 32nd St, NY 10001; 324 1st Ave., NY 10009; 55 Water St 1st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Call (212) 980 1010.

Essabagel on Instagram

Alamy Bagel aficionados on the Upper West Side may get tasty bagels from this hole in the wall.The Upper West Side has a typical hole-in-the-wall café, Alamy, serving superb bagels.

4. Best for crispy bagel skin: Absolute Bagels

“Absolute Bagels is an absolute institution on the Upper West Side,” he adds. “Anybody who grew up there will swear they make the best bagels in the city.” They succeed by creating hot bagels all day and perfecting the thin crispy exterior.

Absolutely Bagels is a hole in the wall with no way to cut the huge line that regularly snakes down the block, but Silverman claims it is the greatest Upper West Side store.

“I don’t know how they do it,” he adds. “But they’re able to achieve that perfectly crisp bagel skin which makes them one of the best in the city.”

Address: 2788 Broadway, NY 10025

Call (212) 932 2052

Facebook: Absolute-Bagels

Citywide, Silverman’s favorite French toast bagel is at Tompkins Square Bagels.

5. Best French toast bagels: Tompkins Square

Like its name, Tompkins Square Bagels began in Tompkins Square Park in the East Village and today has three locations from Union Square. For almost a decade, the original bagel business has had one of the city’s warmest and most friendly atmospheres. Before opening a bagel shop, Christopher Pugliese worked in fine dining and learned the value of a friendly atmosphere and exceptional service.

“He always says that he’s not in the bagel business, he’s in the happiness business,” he adds. “He believes his job is to make every single person that walks through the door as happy as they can be.”

That means excellent bagels and meticulous craftsmanship. The open kitchen lets diners see their bagels being produced, and Silverman calls the cream cheese display “absolutely gorgeous”. Silverman like savory bagel but loves their sweet ones.

“The French toast Bagel at Tompkins Square Bagels is hands down the best French toast bagel in the city, and one of the best sweet bagels out there,” adds. “Whenever I send folks to Tompkins, I recommend two bagels—a savory and the French toast for dessert. Later, thank me.”


Address/Phone: 165 Avenue A, NY 10009 [646) 351-6520].184 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003 [(917) 472-7639]; 23 East 17th St, NY 10003

Instagram @tompkinssquarebagels
Liberty Bagels, maker of the rainbow bagel, has many NYC locations.

6. Best for Instagram-worthy bagel: Liberty Bagels

Liberty Bagels makes the rainbow bagel, a popular Instagram sweet bagel with unicorn-like food coloring swirls. Their bagel roller Osiel Escobar has been producing rainbow bagels longer than anybody else in the city, using a secret ingredient Silverman has yet to find.

Silverman said Liberty Bagels go all out on big events. “For example, they’ll do pink and white bagels for Valentine’s Day and red-white-and-blue bagels for Fourth of July.”

Their savoury bagels are equally fantastic; they won the second Brooklyn BagelFest for best New York bagel. As with Tompkins Square Bagels, Silverman advises “You gotta get a savoury and a rainbow bagel for dessert.” According to Silverman, 60% of his bagel tour customers prefer the birthday cake cream cheese spread with the rainbow bagel, but it also works with peanut butter and Nutella or fruit cream cheese.

Liberty Bagels website

Address/Phone: 16 E 58th St, New York, NY 10022 [(212) 355 0900]; 708 9th Ave #1, New York, NY 10019 [(212) 246 2004]; 260 W 35th St, NY 10001 [(212) 279 1124]; 32 Broadway, NY 10004 [(212) 381 1290]

Liberty BagelsNY on Instagram

Eva Sandoval Bagel Pub features great bagels and a wide choice of cream cheeses. Credit: Eva SandovalThe Eva Sandoval Bagel Pub offers a wide range of cream cheese flavors to go with their wonderful bagels. Credit: Eva Sandoval

7. Bagel Pub excels at cream cheese.

Silverman says Bagel Pub serves “hands down” the greatest cream cheese in NYC, as well as innovative flavors including guacamole, za’atar, honey bacon sriracha, and cucumber dill. “It looks like a gelateria,” he explains, “but it’s actually a bagel shop, and they have fantastic bagels too.”

Pumpernickel everything bagel is Bagel Pub’s specialty. Bagel Pub’s six locations are hip, unlike other hole-in-the-walls. So consumers may enjoy the surroundings as much as their favorite bagel sandwich, the business commissioned local artists to reproduce classic paintings using bagels as their inspiration, including the whimsical “Bagelisa” (influenced by the Mona Lisa).


Address/Phone: 287 9th Street Brooklyn, NY 11215 [(718) 499 4402]; 13 36th Street Brooklyn, NY 11232 [(929) 276 3266]; 57 7th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11217 [(929) 295 0433]; 350 7th Avenue New York, NY 10001 [(212) 901 4170]; 775 Franklin Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11238 [(718) 774 2243]; 418 6th Avenue

Instagram: @bagelpub

Getty Images Bagel Hole in Park Slope delivers old-school New York bagels in a New York City atmosphere. (Getty Images)Getty Images
Park Slope’s Bagel Hole sells traditional bagel. Bagels with old-school NYC vibe (Getty Images)

8. Best for old-school NY bagels: Bagel Hole

For nearly 30 years, Park Slope’s Bagel Hole has served Brooklynites. Their specialty is old-school New York Bagels, smaller and crispier yet just as wonderful. However, their old-school style goes beyond bagels.

“There is zero ambiance,” Silverman said of the dive. “While authentic, it depicts terrible New York service. You can’t take photographs there. They may have been the last city bagel store to acquire a toaster, since fresh bagels should never be toasted. Bagel Hole endured longest.”

400 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Call (718) 788-4014

Facebook: bagelholeofparkslope

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