There are plenty of great reasons to head down to the East Village, whether it's to get a tattoo, get a great bagel, or get a great bagel... tattoo. And since we've already got two awesome butterfly tats on the small of our back, we've decided to focus our attention on great bagels. In particular, this list of the seven best ones that the East Village has to offer.
The Best Bagel You Don’t Need Pants To Eat: Everything Bagels Cafe Within walking distance of seven subways and 11 bus lines, Everything Bagels Cafe is (duh) conveniently located. They’re cash-only, but worth every ATM pin button-push, thanks to 1) soft, fresh bagels with plenty of cream cheese to schmear (15+!), and 2) a lightly toasted garlic bagel with a generous helping of scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese served with a spicy sausage patty. Remember, pants are the enemy. An un-American enemy.
The Best Bagel With Lox: Tompkins Square Bagels With sandwiches named after famous East Villagers (Jesse Jane! The Wombacher!), Tompkins Square Bagels is the apex of the East Village bagel bell-curve. Get one of their hand-rolled, kettle-boiled, supremely chewy everything bagels, and load it with a generous helping of sliced lox, then revel in the simple New Yorkiness of it all.
The Best If-You-Insist-On-Putting-Pants-On Bagel: Heaven's Hot Bagel A dingy little shop on the South side of Houston, HHB has a wide range of bagel-age (including the gone-by-11am French toast dough rings), but the move here is the everything bagel. Pile on some eggs, just the right amount of salt, and top it with turkey sausage for a breakfast sandwich that won’t make you feel guilty for skipping the gym. Also, go back to the gym.
The Best Bagel That's Not Actually A Bagel: Moishe’s Bake Shop This old-school Kosher bakery is authentic to the point that it borders on stereotype: I once saw Moishe himself admonish an employee for not wrapping string around a box properly, saying, “Oy, you want the box to come open and spill??” They have incredible bialys, which are like bagels, but aren’t boiled before baking and have a depression in the middle instead of a hole. I like mine toasted with gobs of peanut butter, but since you’re taking them home, you can get super creative. Also incredible: their chocolate babka and some of their famous black-and-white cookies, which apparently aren't even cookies?
The Comfiest Bagel:Cafe Pick Me Up It's weirdly kind of a great date spot, too, thanks to a warm, inviting back room filled with plush couches and chairs. It's also less-weirdly an incredible bagel-pusher: order a fried egg on a toasted, buttered sesame bagel, plus sides of breakfast potatoes and coffee. With your food ordered, just sit back and wait for your knowledge of bagels to impress. That, or have a regular conversation. They both work, just read the situation.
The Best Bagel For People Who May Not Always Be That "Into" Bagels: Jennifer's Way A quaint bakery with Old West general store-levels of wood and exposed brick, JW plays old-timey music while whipping up “gluten free, dairy free, soy free, peanut free, and refined sugar free” treats (not for free, sorry). But their salt bagel still manages to be delicious, and only gives a hint of their unusual preparation. Shmear it with Nutella and Speculoos (from Wafels & Dinges) to create an epic salty-and-sweet combination... and then toast it. It'll be gooey, melty, and gone.
The Best Working Bagel: The Bean Some cafes are perfect for a laptop, a notebook, a cup of coffee, and a bagel. The Bean is exactly that cafe (ahhhhh, these padded benches are nice), and has three East Village locations to choose from -- all of which are consistently full. Our go-to: the one on E 9th St & 1st Ave, where you'll get a toasted poppy seed bagel filled with gobs of strawberry cream cheese.
Jay Miller is a Co-founder of East Village Vibe, the guide to New York’s coolest neighborhood, and eats cheese specifically because he’s lactose intolerant. Follow him at @EVillageVibe and on Facebook.