Bryan and I love bagels from New York, and we always pick up a few dozen and freeze them whenever we visit. While we have tried several, H&H is still our favorite. We love their fresh bagels, which, of course, are freshly made on the premises. The bagels are warm and crispy on the outside and nice and chewy on the inside.
Of course, the store also happens to be located conveniently close to our aunt's Upper West Side apartment (where we stay every time). Aren't we lucky?? 🙂
One of our favorites is the Everything Bagel, which smells intoxicatingly fragrant when you pick it up. That mixture of garlic, onion, sesame, poppyseed, etc. smells soooo good! It's really hard not to eat a couple right on the spot (heh heh, that's about 600 calories please). We also love the Sesame Bagel, which smells really delicious even toasted at home.
The place is very simple. Nowhere to sit, nowhere to relax. Essentially, there's this huge space in front dedicated for the crowds of people who line up each day to get their bagel fix. Rows of refrigerators on the left side of the store are filled with drinks and tubs of bagel accompaniments such as cream cheese, lox, white fish spread, etc.
Without fail, we always order a dozen Everything Bagels (you get one for free when you order a dozen!) and a dozen Sesame Bagels. We then proceed to eat at least one bagel each immediately before heading back to Boston, usually on the $25 bus! It's hard not to eat another one while sitting on that bus, especially with the sweet aroma of the freshly baked bagels beckoning the entire 4-hour ride.
According to a recent Serious Eats article, "[a] bagel's half-life, untoasted and unadorned, is no more than half an hour." Serious Eats tried to do a blind test of New York City bagels, only to find (in their first experiment), that the freshest bagel from a relatively unknown local bakery won the title of best bagel, while well known bagels from far far away fared quite poorly. It was all a matter of how old the bagel was.
Alas, it will always be debated and likely never resolved who makes the best bagel in NYC. Since we don't live there, we have not had the luxury of trying out that many places. However, you can be sure that, wherever you go, make sure that the bagels are made fresh on the premises, and that you enjoy one right away! You really can't go too wrong if you just do that.
Of course, if you happen to be near an H&H, do check it out! You won't be sorry. 🙂
Update: Thanks for the reminder Bryan! (see comment #2) Of course, it's totally OK that H&H does not have a huge variety of bagel accompaniments because Zabar's is right next door. This market is fun, unique, totally crowded, and full of incredible food including an amazing selection of bagel spreads that you can schmear to your heart's content.
Other posts from this mini New York Series:
A New York Birthday
Me Peche (Momofuku Midtown)
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