New York City doesn’t own the copyright to delicious bagels. That’s the main takeaway from Food and Wine’s round up of the top 50 bagel shops across the country.
Of course the top spot still goes to a NYC favorite, the Upper West Side’s Absolute Bagels. It’s a well-deserved win; the cash only joint still sees long lines every morning for their paradoxically crispy and doughy fare. It’s also probably one of the few places where you can wash down your bagel with a Thai iced tea.
A testament to their quality, Absolute Bagels ranked 15 spots above fellow Manhattan contender, Ess-a-Bagel, where Absolute’s owner Sam Thongkrieng is known to have learned the craft.
(Full disclosure: This author spent three years living a few blocks away from Absolute Bagels and very much agrees with Food and Wine’s assessment.)
Nonetheless, 29 of the list’s 50 shops were beyond the Hudson – in locales as far afield as Fargo, North Dakota (BernBaum’s), Berea, Kentucky (Native Bagel Co.), Nashville, Tennessee (Proper Bagel) and Dallas, Texas (Lenore’s Handmade Bagel Co.)
Also included is Washington, D.C bagel joint, Call Your Mother, where the presidential motorcade reportedly stopped for a quick bite after president Biden’s first Sunday Mass in office.
Though once a mainstay of America’s Jewish immigrant communities at the turn of the last century, there’s no irony in bagels after church. The traditional Ashkenazi fare has long since made its way out of the Jewish community, or at least the religious one, with only a handful of the 50 in Food & Wine’s list certified kosher, such as Manhattan’s Ess-a-Bagel, Pittsburgh’s Pidgeon Bagels and Teaneck, New Jersey’s aptly named Teaneck Hot Bagels.