WHERE TO GET THE BEST BAGEL
Feb. 9 is National Bagel Day, and what better way to celebrate this cheap, filling, and savory delight than by popping into one of the nation's best bagel shops and scoring a few of these treats? From New York to Dallas to Los Angeles, these establishments all score big with customers on review sites such as Yelp, Zomato, TripAdvisor, and others, making them an easy choice if you're in the neighborhood.
ESS-A-BAGEL, NEW YORK CITY
Founded in 1976 by an Austrian baking family, Ess-a-Bagel is considered by many to produce the best bagels in Gotham, which explains the hourlong wait patrons have experienced at busy times, according to reviews on Zomato. Still, devoted customers say this New York institution is well worth the wait for a classic, New York-style bagel.
WESTERN BAGEL, LOS ANGELES
First opened in 1947, this small franchise specializes in New York-style bagels with a West Coast twist. The chain has 11 locations in the Los Angeles area, primarily in the San Fernando Valley, but they all have one thing in common -- amazing bagels that are "softer and chewier than the typical dense and harder East Coast bagel."
BAGEL KING OF FAIRFIELD, CONNECTICUT
Founded by Italian-born Benny Viselli, who mastered the art of bagel-making after he immigrated to the United States in the 1950s, the first Bagel King bakery was opened in 1969. Two Connecticut locations soon followed, and are still operated by the family. On Yelp, reviewers note the crispy, flaky crust and chewy center, which some claim is better than a "typical" New Jersey or New York-style bagel.
BAGEL SPHERE, EUGENE, OREGON
Bagel Sphere operates two Eugene locations, both with roomy interiors. The expansive menu includes a variety of bagels, of course, but also breakfast and lunch bagel sandwiches. Reviewers on Zomato particularly appreciate that Bagel Sphere doesn't skimp on the cream cheese and enjoy the stores' unique vibe.
BOONE BAGELRY, BOONE, NORTH CAROLINA
This is another small franchise with an energetic following. The two Boone locations offer a wide variety of breakfast menu items such as bacon, pancakes, and bagel French toast, as well as a full lunch menu. The offerings are so good that some customers are willing to drive hours just to eat there, according to reviews on the eatery's Facebook page, and customers who pay in cash get a 5 percent discount.
SHARKY'S BAGELS, BLACKWOOD, NEW JERSEY
>Sharky's Bagels offers a full menu that appeals to nearly everyone who walks through the door, judging by reviews on TripAdvisor. Specialty items such as the Shark Attack are favorites (and who can go wrong with double egg, double meat, and double cheese on a bagel for less than $6?). Sharky's popularity means there's typically a line at busier times, but take that as a sign of just how good the eats are.
A & S BAGELS, LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK
A & S Bagels operates a 24/7 retail store where customers can stop in anytime and select from a huge variety of bagels, from plain, poppy, and sesame to French toast pumpernickel, and more. Reviewers on TripAdvisor warn that there's often a line, but it's definitely worth the wait.
BAGFUL O' BAGELS, LAFAYETTE, NEW JERSEY
This quirky, colorful bagel shop gets high marks on Facebook from customers who love the friendly, attentive staff. Looking to treat your co-workers? Twelve bucks will buy 15 bagels, and you can freeze the leftovers for the next time you have a bagel craving.
BAGEL BIN, OMAHA, NEBRASKA
ROSENBERG'S BAGELS AND DELICATESSEN, DENVER, COLORADO
Joshua Pollack, founder of Rosenberg's, grew up in a New York suburb and wanted to bring an authentic New York-style bagel to Denver after he studied at the University of Colorado. According to reviewers on TripAdvisor, he's definitely succeeded. Customers note that this is as close as you can get to the "real thing" outside of New England, and a dozen bagels go for $13.
BETHESDA BAGELS, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Bethesda Bagels features an expansive handmade bagel menu that includes traditional offerings as well as a few that seem unique, such as cinnamon chip and orange cranberry. The original storefront in Bethesda, Maryland, isn't fancy and seating can be limited, but if there is a line, comments from customers posting on Facebook suggest that it's well worth the wait. There's also a newer store in Washington's trendy Dupont Circle neighborhood.
MARX HOT BAGELS, BLUE ASH, OHIO
Marx Hot Bagels boasts a '50s diner decor and a bossy yet caring staff. On TripAdvisor, reviewers suggest knowing what you want before getting in line. Those who don't will find a not-so-gentle reminder hanging above them to order quickly and not keep others waiting. The kosher offerings are traditionally prepared and the spot has been a Cincinnati-area institution since 1969.
THE BAGELERS COFFEEHOUSE, CHICAGO
Featuring kettle-boiled bagels, The Bagelers Coffeehouse is a smart combo of coffee and bagels. If you buy 11 bagels, the shop will throw in a 12th for free. Homemade cream cheese is available for an additional $1.10 ($5 a tub). The popular shop is a bit on the small side, so it's no wonder reviewers on Facebook recommend going during off-peak hours to get a table.
THE BAGEL MAN, PHOENIX, ARIZONA
Customers reviewing this shop on Yelp rave about the Bagel Man's homey, "mom-and-pop shop" feel. While it can be difficult to find a good bagel shop in the Southwest, even those familiar with New York say it's a rare gem that bagel aficionados must visit.
KNEAD BAGELS, PHILADELPHIA
Knead Bagels, a recent addition to Center City, sells itself as a non-traditional bagel shop. While it does serve traditional bagels and pairings (plain with cream cheese, for example), there are some unique selections, such as cardamom with blood orange cream cheese and black sesame with sweet potato curry cream cheese.
GREG'S BAGELS, BALTIMORE
Greg's Bagels, a cash-only bagel shop, is perennially rated among the best in Baltimore. Although some favor more traditional, New York-style bagels, reviews are mostly positive on Yelp, and many locals say these are some of the best bagels and lox they've ever had.
BENNY'S BAGELS LAKEWOOD, DALLAS
Benny's Bagels makes authentic New York-style bagels using traditional methods such as boiling, shaping by hand, and baking. On TripAdvisor, reviewers enthusiastically approve, giving Benny's 4 stars. Texas twists include jalape駉-flavored bagels and cream cheese. If you're looking to feed a brood, Benny's offers a dozen bagels (with 8 ounces of cream cheese) for $14.
MYER'S BAGEL BAKERY, BURLINGTON, VERMONT
Myer's Bagel Bakery boasts Montreal-style bagels and, judging by reviews on its Facebook page, it delivers. A particular favorite is the Montreal Spice bagel, which scores kudos with customers again and again. Myer's also features gluten-free bagels, which can be difficult to find.