Asking a New Yorker to choose their favorite bagel is like asking them to choose their favorite season of 90210. But in the end, we all do, in fact, have favorites (Season 5 FTW!). Here are 12 spots that make the traditional New York delicacy -- with consideration to texture, toppings, and taste -- best.
 

Absolute Bagels

Upper West Side
Visitors are greeted at this Thai-owned bakery by a Jenga-esque stack of freshly baked, palm-sized bagels, which they generously spread with smooth and light cream cheese. Soft dough, slightly crusty exterior, and mild sweetness -- more like Absolute-ly Awesome Bagels, amirite? ... Bueller?

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Hot Bagels & Bialys

Midwood
This simple bakery rolls and bakes Brooklyn-style bagels right on the premises, delivering them (you may have seen this one coming) hot. Recently relocated from Forest Hills to Midwood, Hot Bagels & Bialys now offers more bagel options, along with seating. Pro tip: ask what just came out of the oven for the ultimate bagel experience.

Ess-A-Bagel

Ess-a-Bagel

Midtown
Owned by an Austrian family and open since the 1970s, Ess-a-Bagel hand rolls and boils in enormous pots visible from the (generally quite long) line. The double-fist-sized rounds are dense and could serve two if you're some sort of weirdo bagel sharer.

Eve Turow

Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company

Astoria and Chelsea
The small chain is focused on quality coffee, robust soups, sandwiches, and -- most of all -- your health, which sounds kind of strange considering they're a BAGEL SHOP. But it's also kind of true: they only use unbleached and unbromated flour and offer spelt and gluten-free bagels. Best part, though? None of that ruins the bagels in any way.

Eve Turow

Bagel Pub

Park Slope
The family-owned spot offers hot-to-the-touch, kettle-cooked bagels (that’re boiled, then baked) alongside a case of cream cheese varieties for spreading on top of your bagel/eating directly out of the container, like bacon-cheddar, sun-dried tomato, or mixed berry. Lox servings are generous and the bagels are hefty enough to make for a top-notch sandwich.

Russ & Daughters

Russ & Daughters (The Bagel Hole)

Lower East Side
We’re giving it to this LES spot (instead of the place that actually makes their bagels, the Bagel Hole) for its iconic-ness (and, well, bagels). Really though, The Smithsonian said the fourth-generation spot is a "part of New York’s cultural heritage", and their hand-rolled bagels, layered with one of eleven cured salmon preparations, house-smoked chub, caviar, or whitefish salad, are part of the reason why. Go with everyone’s must-order: the Super Heebster.

Murray's Bagels

Murray’s Bagels

Greenwich Village
Adam Pomerantz, a former vice president at Merrill Lynch, followed his dream of creating one of the best bagels in New York with the 1996 opening of Murray’s, named for his bagel-loving father. After taste-testing his way around the five boroughs, Pomerantz crafted his own artisanal recipe, which he's been serving at his dad’s namesake store ever since.


Freds at Barney’s New York Midtown
Easily New York’s best kept bagel secret, Fred's hides on the top floor of the Barney’s department store. There, only on Sundays, petit two-and-a-half ounce fistfuls of dough are rolled into expertly browned bagels. Oh, and they're all baked atop burlap-covered wood blocks.

Flickr/ WWNY

Bagel Oasis

Flushing
They boil and bake their bagels, which means a more subtle crust for less crunch and more chew. Also: they stir up batches of homemade cream cheese. PLUS: everything's available 24 hours a day.

Bagel Mercato

Bagel Mercato

Staten Island
This kitschy shop, located right by the Staten Island Ferry, has the locals in Staten Island getting their bagel panties in a bunch, thanks largely to freshly baked bagels made using a recipe borrowed from their sister restaurant Dyker Park Bagels. Expect crowds in the morning.

Dyker Park Bagels

Dyker Park Bagels

Staten Island and Dyker Heights
There's no better place for some late-night noshing than Dyker Park Bagels. Open 24 hours, the bagels come with nearly a half inch of cream cheese and a mildly sweet tang (in a good way... a very good way).

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Eve Turow is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, New York, with a passion for good eats, meals with friends, and food policy. You can find her work at The Village Voice, Huffington Post, and Chicago Tribune. She is writing a book on the millennial generation and food culture. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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1. Absolute Bagels 2788 Broadway, New York, NY 10025 (Upper West Side)

For the best bagels above 100th Street, look no further than this Thai-owned bagelry a few blocks south of Columbia. Absolute greets visitors with a Jenga-esque stack of freshly baked, palm-sized bagels with soft dough, a slightly crusty exterior, and mild sweetness. Service is quick, prices are cheap, and cream cheese is applied generously.

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2. Hot Bagels & Bialys 1201 Quentin Rd, Brooklyn, NY 11229

This simple bakery rolls and bakes their Brooklyn-style bagels right on the premises. Recently relocated from Forest Hills to Midwood, Hot Bialys & Bagels now offers more bagel options, along with seating. We suggest asking what’s just come out of the oven for the ultimate bagel experience.

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3. Ess-a-Bagel 359 1st Ave, New York, NY 10010 (Gramercy)

Owned by an Austrian family and open since the 1970s, Ess-a-Bagel hand rolls and boils in enormous pots visible from the (generally quite long) line. The double-fist-sized rounds are dense and could serve two if you're some sort of weirdo bagel sharer.

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4. Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company 286 8th Ave, New York, NY 10001 (Chelsea)

The small chain is focused on quality coffee, robust soups, sandwiches, and -- most of all -- your health, which sounds kind of strange considering they're a BAGEL SHOP. But it's also kind of true: they only use unbleached and unbromated flour and offer spelt and gluten-free bagels. Best part, though? None of that ruins the bagels in any way.

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5. Bagel Pub 287 9th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215 (Park Slope)

The family-owned local spot offers hot-to-the-touch bagels alongside a case of cream cheese varieties for your deliberation like bacon-cheddar, sundried tomato, or mixed berry. Lox servings are generous and the robust bagels are hefty enough to make for a top notch sandwich.

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6. Russ & Daughters Cafe 127 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Around the corner from the iconic Lower East Side appetizing shop of the same name, Russ & Daughters Cafe serves everything you love about the original (pastrami-cured salmon, whitefish salad on a bagel, caviar) in a sit-down luncheonette space. Cafe-specific dishes like babka French toast and halvah ice cream cater to the brunch crowd, as do Jewish classics like knishes, latkes, and matzoh ball soup. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, R&D Cafe is proof that Jewish noshes are the perfect anytime food.

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7. Murray's Bagels 500 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10011 (Greenwich Village)

Opened in 1996, Murray's is a definitive New York institution. Expect some of the best traditional, hand-crafted bagels in the city, along with delicious smoked fish and pastries.

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8. Freds at Barney's New York 660 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10065 (Upper East Side)

Resting on the ninth floor of Barney's, Fred's offers classic, upscale American food like lobster clubs and tuna tartare, in addition to an impressive brunch menu. The environment is elegant and intimate, making Fred's the perfect spot for a post-shopping breakfast or lunch date.

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9. Bagel Oasis 18312 Horace Harding Expy, Flushing, NY 11365 (Flushing)

Hidden behind a weathered, nondescript facade, Bagel Oasis shelfs some of freshest NYC bagels across all varieties, including salt, whole wheat, egg, and bialys. Best of all, it's open 24/7, so even your post-3am sliced-nova-on-pumpernickel cravings can be satisfied.

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10. Bagel Mercato 70 Bay St, Staten Island, NY 10301 (Staten Island)

This kitchy shop right by the Staten Island Ferry has the locals in Staten Island getting their bagel panties in a bunch, thanks largely to freshly baked bagels made using a recipe borrowed from their sister restaurant Park Bagel in Dyker Heights. Expect crowds in the morning.

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11. Dyker Park Bagels 713 86th St, Brooklyn, NY 11228

There's no better place for some late-night noshing than Dyker Park Bagels. Open 24 hours, the bagels come with nearly a half inch of cream cheese and a mildly sweet tang.

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