The Great Bagel Debate

NYer's are rarely able to admit that something from NY is not the best; however, with Montreal deli's like  Mile End popping up, they are beginning to recognize there may be a worthy challenger out there.  So the debate is on.

For those of you who are not familiar with the debate or the difference between NY and Montreal style bagels, here is a little primer:

NY vs Montreal Bagel

The New York bagel contains salt and malt and is boiled in water prior to baking in a standard oven. The resulting New York bagel is puffy with a moist crust, while the Montreal bagel is smaller (though with a larger hole), crunchier, and sweeter.

The Montreal bagel contains malt and sugar with no salt; it is boiled in honey-sweetened water before baking in a wood-fired oven; and it is predominantly either of the poppy "black" or sesame "white" seeds variety.

Below you will find some of NY's best bagels and a few places to grab a Montreal style bagel.  You be the judge - but to be fair you need to go to Montreal and have a fresh St. Viateur bagel before you make your final judgement.

St. Viateur's
Picture from St. Viateur
Kossar's Bialys is located on Grand Street in the heart of the Jewish portion of the Lower East Side.  I think Kossar's makes the best bagels in NYC.  Kossar's bagels are crispy on the outside, doughy on the inside.  Kosar's is best known for the bialy's and have a number of other great baked goods.
Going to Ess-a-Bagel is a real New York experience.  The people who work at Ess-a-Bagel are not the friendliest people and will greet your request to toast your bagel with a grunt and a mumble about how they don't toast bagels.  That being said a fresh Ess-a-Bagel doesn't need toasting.  For people who are used to Montreal bagels, these bagels will be a lot of bagel for you -they are VERY thick. 
This is the bagel I grew up on.  I used to go to H&H as a teenager at midnight and get a warm bagel for half price because they couldn't sell day old bagels even though these bagels were a couple of hours old.  H&H also doesn't toast or put cream cheese on bagels, so you'll have to buy some bagels and cream cheese and bring them home or to the park and make them yourself.  Stop at Zabars one block away or Fairway and pick up some lox while you are at it.
Murray's has a number of locations throughout the city.  Murray's makes a solid bagel and offers a great assortment of spreads and smoked fish.
Court Street Bagels is probably not mentioned too often by NYers as a place to get the best bagels in the city, but its I would say they are up there... and they are within walking distance of my house.  So, for those of you who are staying the Carroll Garden's area for the wedding, they make a good bagel - trust me.
Shelsky's get's their bagels from Kossar's... but I put it on the list because they were ranked the best smoked fish store in NYC by the NY Post (which isn't the NY Times, but its something).  Come to Shelsky's and get a tasty bagel sandwich - my favorite is the Peter Shelsky (Gaspe Nova, Sable, Pickled Herring with Cream Sauce and Onion, Scallion Cream Cheese Served on Bagel or Bialy).  

I also love this place because it is a stereo-type of Brooklyn.  A couple of months ago I was in Shelsky's ordering a couple of bagel sandwiches when Peter Shelsky, the Jewish, hipster owner, announces to everyone in the store that he is turning on NPR's Car Talk and that he will be on the show today.  What advice is he looking for from Click and Clack?  He had fried a turkey for Thanksgiving at his families home and had put the canister of frying oil in his Jetta and while driving home it had tipped over, so he was looking for advice on how to clean out the car... only in Brooklyn... or Portland.

Anyway... go to Shelsky's.
Russ & Daughter's is a New York City institution.  They are widely known as the place to get smoked fish in NYC.  Their bagels on the other hand are not made in house and are a bit chewy for me - still very good though - but because of the fish, I'd say they are one of the best bagel sandwiches in the city.  So, worth going, but don't judge NYC's bagels by Russ & Daughter's bagels.

Where to get a Montreal Style Bagel in New York:
Mile End
Mile End ships their bagels in directly from St. Viateurs bagels in Montreal (though there are rumors that they may start producing their own).  When they got started that had staff and volunteers bring trunk loads of Montreal's finest to Brooklyn.  You can order a dozen for $20 or you can get your bagel schmear (which includes tomato, onion and cream cheese) or you can get the Beauty (which includes lox, capers, tomato, onion and cream cheese). 

St. Viateur's make the best bagels in Montreal, but you have to remember when you get bagels at Mile End, they are somewhere between 1-3 days old.

B&B Empire makes Montreal style bagels on site.  Not quiet as good as St. Viateurs and B&B's bagels are a bit bigger than the typical Montreal bagel - probably to appease the American belief that bigger is better - and its missing a little something... but B&B bagels fulfill the bagel needs of Montrealers seeking a bagel from home. 

Additional reading on the on the the bagel debate.
The Great Bagel Debate (The Daily Beast)
NYC Bagel Snobs REACT To Montreal Bagels' Brooklyn Debut (Gothamist)

*This is a repost from our wedding blog uniononunion.tumblr.com

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