October 22, 2013

Ess-A-Bagel, New York City

What's a trip to New York without getting a bagel? The moment we started planning our trip, the infamous NY bagel was a must try item on our list. We received recommendations for several bagel spots including H&L Bagels which is no longer around (the original at least). The one bagel shop that kept coming up was Ess-A-Bagel and since we only had time to stop in at one bagel shop this trip we went with the most recommended by our friends from New York. 

We landed at 8 in the morning, dropped off our luggage and enjoyed a nice walk down 3rd to Ess-A-Bagel. The weather was a perfect 65 with nice cloud covering and the mile walk helped us work up a nice appetite. When we arrived at E. 53rd & 3rd, I had to look around a few times before I spotted the inconspicuous sign.

The minute we walked in, we were greeted by a cheerful man behind the counter named Sean. He was definitely "alive, alert, awake and enthusiastic!" He walked us over to the bagel case and pointed out all the bagels that just came out of the oven. Each one of these beautiful bagels will set you back $1.15.

After we picked our bagels, we were given the difficult choice of picking a filling. As tempting as it was to get the plain cream cheese or cream cheese and lox, I decided to try one of their most popular cream cheeses. Sean even offered samples on a small pieces of bagel to make sure we made the right decision. They sliced our bagels, loaded it up with cream cheese and wrapped it in wax paper. The price was written on the paper and we took our tray to the cashier to pay our bill. When I tried to add a tip to the slip, the woman behind the counter told me "no tips" which was a first. Eager to sink our teeth into these warm bagels, we grabbed a table and tore open the wax paper. 

Note: DON'T ask for your bagel to be toasted! They won't do it and I've heard from a number of people that they may even yell at you if you try and ask.

Everything bagel with sun dried tomato cream cheese
The first thing I noticed before taking a bite was the amount of cream cheese between the bagel. The sun dried tomato cream cheese was thick, creamy and had nice chunks of sun dried tomato. The most noticeable difference with this bagel from others I've tasted was the crunch of the crust and the denser and chewier texture. Since the bagel was still warm, the inside of it almost stuck to my teeth when I ate it...the texture was completely different than anything on the West Coast. At first I was afraid that the amount of cream cheese would be overwhelming but I found that it was a very nice balance given how dense the bagel was. I also find that sometimes the "everything" bagel can be a bit too much, but their toppings were just right. I'm no bagel expert, but I can say this is the best bagel I've ever tasted.

I'm already planning my next trip to New York and Ess-A-Bagel will definitely be on my list. There are so many fillings from cream cheese and lox to curry chicken salad and I can't wait to try more. A big thank you to all our friends for the suggestions. 

What's your favorite bagel spot in New York?

831 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10022

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