America’s 30 Best Bagel Shops to Visit With the Fam
Bagels. It’s impossible not to love them, especially if you grew up in and around New York, where the bagel is said to have found its maturity after a lengthy history that goes back to late-medieval Eastern Europe — likely in areas that became modern-day Poland and Austria. Believe it or not, the bagel partly came to be associated with enterprising Jewish bakers partly due to “proscriptions” against non-Christians baking bread for the Eucharist.
However the “original” bagel was born, it matured in the New World, first in New York, due to its large population of European Jewish immigrants. But, nowadays, you don’t have to be anywhere near New York to enjoy some of that breaded goodness. Actually, the bagel is now as American as, well, apple pie.
It’s hard to choose the best bagel, but we have 30 of the best bagel shops that produce those little round lovelies across the country. Some are from, of course, New York and Los Angeles, but many are found in more surprising places. In the interest of fairness, we’re listing them in alphabetical order.
Location: Los Angeles, California
Anyone who's spent more than a week in Los Angeles knows someone complaining: “Man, they just don’t make bagels like in New York!” Apparently, the proprietors of Bagel Broker, who moved west from old Gotham, felt the same.
Bagel Broker is regarded as one of the best bagelries (is that word?) on the West Coast. It’s the perfect place to direct those oh-so-whiny former New Yorkers living in La-La Land, looking to gorge on flavors like pumpernickel.
The Bagel Factory
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis’ Bagel Factory is a well-kept secret within the midwestern city’s gourmand scene.
For one thing, they don’t have a website and, thus, rely on old-fashioned word-of-mouth and a dedicated customer base that has been showing up since the early-1970s to dine on such unique bagel flavors as cornmeal “cinn raisin” and “poppy stix.”
Location: Queens, New York
Forget those snooty Manhattanites who refuse to leave the island! Great things abide in the Outer Boroughs, too — especially when it comes to bagels. Do yourself a favor and take the Long Island Railroad out to the Fresh Meadows section of Queens, where a little hole-in-the-wall joint has been baking up some of the city’s freshest, tastiest bagels for six decades.
Bagel Oasis has what you need at all hours of the day in the City That Never Sleeps.
Location: Alpharetta, Georgia
Just outside of central Atlanta lies the quaint burb of Alpharetta, home to what many consider to be the premier bagel in the southeast. Owners Eddie and Anna Siino brought their patented baking techniques from the New York area and have been blessing the hearts of many a hungry Georgian since 2007.
The Siinos not only make each and every bagel by hand, but they also have their patented cream cheese for sale to slather on that breaded goodness. Enjoy ’em all, y’all!
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
One can only guess that this bagel shop's name comes from the notion of Southern hospitality: Make sure you have enough time to sit down and enjoy your bagel. After all, this ain’t New York!
Benchwarmers Bagels is an institution in North Carolina’s capital city, catering to locals (politicians or otherwise) as well as hungry tourists. Benchwarmers also doubles as a pizza parlor in the non-breakfast hours, which you can pair with their much-lauded coffee if you’re so inclined.
Location: Fargo, North Dakota
Yes, even humble Fargo has a Jewish population among its 121,000 residents. BernBaum’s serves up classic Jewish staples like knishes, blintzes and latkes as well as groovy sandwiches. Oh, and bagels that will warm the soul even on the coldest day in these parts, which can dip to chillier than -30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Let’s see how tough those New Yorkers are when they show up at BernBaum’s!
Best Bagel and Coffee
Location: New York, New York
When you put the word “best” in your name, you damn well better live up to the hype — especially in the home of American bagels. Midtown Best Bagel and Coffee is an institution that is visited by tourists and Manhattanites alike on the regular.
Their shelves contain row upon row of breaded wonder, and that smell doubtless tugs at even the most cynical of night owls strolling the streets in the wee hours.
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Charlottesville is the home of the University of Virginia (founded by no less than Thomas Jefferson, incidentally), and thus, it’s not surprising the city enjoys a thriving food scene. The coffee is poured fresh each morning, as students, professors and community members regularly come through Bodo’s doors in search of that perfect bagel.
Bodo’s even used to have a drive-through, which you assuredly wouldn’t find in New York City, but the pandemic has ended that (for now anyway).
Eltana Wood-Fired Bagel Café
Location: Seattle, Washington
When you own a bagel shop in Seattle, you have to up your game for those discerning habitués of the Emerald City. Eltana opened in 2010, and its menu offers bagels that can be enjoyed several different ways; they even offer vegan bagels.
Interestingly, the bagels that exit Eltana’s oven are smaller than those you’d find in New York, but they more than make up for that in the number of delicious bagel toppings, including the eggplant-pomegranate spread.
Kaufman’s Bagel & Delicatessen
Location: Skokie, Illinois
Located in the northeastern suburbs of Chicago, Kaufman’s Bagel & Delicatessen has been feeding successive generations of Windy City residents with their patented bagel recipe.
It’s cold in Chicago for a good part of the year, so while you’re keeping warm inside Kaufman’s, get some coffee and try one of their sandwiches, too. This is what family-owned bagel shops are all about.
Location: Brookline, Massachusetts
New York and Boston have rumbled for decades, particularly over sports (go ahead, try wearing your Yankees jersey to a Red Sox game), but the two cities’ rivalry extends to food as well. Kupel’s Bakery operates in Brookline, a Boston suburb that is also the hometown of one Conan O’Brien, and is locally famous for its take on the bagel.
Theirs isn't as doughy as the “traditional” Boston bagel, but it's also not as hard as its New York cousin. Kupel’s is equally known for its honey walnut and green olive spreads.
Marx Hot Bagels
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Marx Hot Bagels prides itself on their “Cincinnati kosher” menu, which they have offered to folks in and around the Queen City since 1969. They even work their bagel magic without including oil or butter.
Original owner John Marx, who sold the business in 2019, was known around Cincinnati as the “Bagel Man,” and his cartoonish avatar was often seen on Marx’s packaging — wearing a cape, of course.
Location: Burlington, Vermont
Even though this list is about the best American bagel shops, we need to digress here to discuss “Montreal-style” bagels, which are baked only in wood-fired grills and do not contain salt.
Less than 100 miles south of the Canadian province, Burlington’s Myer’s Bagels has been applying its unique turn on the Montreal style for a quarter-century. Myer’s singular bagel flavors include “Montreal spice,” maple and even sesame sunflower. Don’t forget to wash it down with Magic Hat, a Vermont beer sold on site.
New York Bagel & Bialy Corp
Location: Lincolnwood, Illinois
Actually, New York Bagel & Bialy Corp. is found in the “second city” of Chicago — and like the aforementioned Kaufman’s, it resides on the city’s northern side. New York Bagel has been operating since 1964, and they are considered a welcoming, wonderful outpost for New York-style bagels in the Midwest.
Of particular note is the so-called mish-mosh bagel, which contains caraway seeds, onion, salt and garlic. Oh, and good news if you come stumbling out of the bar at 2 a.m. with an appetite: They’re open 24 hours.
Brooklyn Water Bagels
Location: Delray Beach, Florida
It’s said that to be “authentic,” bagels must use the “right” kind of New York water to get the elixir just right. Accordingly, Florida’s Brooklyn Water Bagel seeks to approximate the taste of a Gotham bagel with a process called “Brooklyinzing” to turn Sunshine State H2O into “delicious” East River aqua.
They must be doing something right as, from the original location, Brooklyn Water Bagels has spread all around Florida — much like snow-weary New Yorkers.
Philly Style Bagels
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Only 95 miles separate New York and Philadelphia — funnily enough, largely along Interstate 95 — but their food cultures are night and day. Seeking to put some Brotherly Love into their wares, Philly Style Bagels not only boils their bready treats, but they also do so in a patented elixir of water and beer! You read that right: beer.
Brewing up those round mouthfuls with brewskies is now referred to as the “Philadelphia style” bagel — not to mention a great way to partake before noon.
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
On the opposite side of the Keystone State resides Pittsburgh’s Pigeon Bagels, where they bake up Steel City bagels for all of “yins” out there. Everything served at Pigeon is kosher, and almost all of their bagels, with the notable exception of the egg bagel, are vegan.
You can even try the vegan tofu smear for something different. And interestingly, Pigeon boasts that they do not slice their bagels — ever. Please don’t bring your own knife.
Native Bagel Co.
Location: Berea, Kentucky
Southeastern Kentucky might seem like an odd spot for a bagel shop, but good food is less about location than quality. Using local ingredients, Native Bagel Co. approximates the New York taste while maintaining that ever-important Southern hospitality.
And to prove that running a bagel shop isn’t solely an old-boy’s club, Native owner Katie Startzman has been cited by Yelp as one of the top female business owners in the country!
New York Bagels
Location: Ferndale, Michigan
Greater Detroit has much more going on than cars, including some killer bagels. Actually, this one is a great American success story thanks to the immigration of Morris Goldsmith to Detroit, where, a century ago, he and his partners decided to name their shop after their port of entry into the United States.
New York Bagels is now on its fourth generation of Goldsmiths boiling and baking bagels every morning, and the family shows no signs of slowing down.
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Proper’s owners left behind the gridlock and noise of New York nearly a half-century ago, trading the Big Apple for Music City. They brought with them their bagel know-how, cooking up bialys and bagels every morning in a stone-lined oven.
Proper’s interior is more cafe than “classic” bagel shop (currently closed thanks to the pandemic), but their offerings are heart-warming staples such as bagels with dill cream cheese and even a jalapeno bacon variety.
Rise Bagel Co.
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
When the NHL’s Midwinter Classic was played — outdoors — on New Year’s Day in Minneapolis, the temperature bottomed out at an unholy -6 degrees Fahrenheit. Doubtless, those hearty fans needed something warm after the game, and we’re guessing at least a few headed just down the street to Rise Bagel Co.
Rise serves organic bagels, and the owners boast they traveled from New York to Montreal and even on to San Francisco for inspiration to get their bagels just right. Guess you could say they “rose” to the challenge.
Location: Biddeford, Maine
Sleepy seaside Biddeford has a reputation for, among other things, its piers and lighthouses. Also, a scrappy shop turning out some of the best bagels in all of New England.
Like most small businesses, Rover was hit hard by the pandemic, but thankfully, they’re still selling their breaded wares, which can be picked up at the shop, as indoor dining remains verboten. Then, perhaps, you'll want to enjoy a stroll around Biddeford; you might beat Stephen King to the next Maine-set horror blockbuster.
Location: Denver, Colorado
Perhaps it’s the mile-high water, but Denver’s Rosenberg’s claims to be home to the “most authentic New York bagels west of the Mississippi.” Strong words, but residents of Colorado’s capital have been gobbling them up for years.
Rosenberg’s is doing so well that it now operates multiple locations in the Mile High City. Hey, you know what else is made from grains and is plentiful in Denver? Hint: It’s a beverage that rhymes with “deer.”
Location: Seattle, Washington
For those who might not have spent much time on the West Coast, let’s introduce you to a new term: “sourdough.” That’s a type of bread that doesn't use yeast to rise, and thus gives rise (sorry) to a unique flavor profile.
Rubinstein Bagels uses sourdough in its products, which marries owner Andrew Rubinstein’s love of West Coast technique with East Coast taste. The owner clearly has a sense of humor about it all, referring to himself as the “chief bagel mensch.”
Location: New York, New York
If you’re in New York, head down to SoHo (“south of Houston Street”) to Sadelle’s, a delicatessen that opened in 2016. A quick perusal of their menu might be confusing, but rest assured that among the salads, latkes and omelets are to be found some of the city’s best bagels.
While Sadelle’s has other locations nationwide, it’s New York’s you want, as the owners refer to it as the “Temple of Hot Bagels,” where one need not even be Jewish to “attend.”
Scratch Baking Company
Location: South Portland, Maine
Once again to Maine we go, this time to South Portland, home to Scratch Baking Company and its bevy of bagels. Scratch is well known for its herb cream cheese spread (or “schmear”), and in pre-pandemic times, folks would line up outdoors to get their hands on the hot goodness from the ovens.
Scratch uses a sourdough starter for its recipe and builds out from there. Granted, sourdough is more identified with the West Coast, but when it comes to bagels, it's the taste itself that travels.
Teaneck Hot Bagels
Location: Teaneck, New Jersey
Poor New Jersey. The Garden State is ever the butt of jokes thanks mainly to its proximity to New York, both in terms of culture and cuisine. But lest you turn up your nose on your next trip to the Big Apple, do yourself a favor and hop the Hudson River to try out Teaneck Hot Bagels, whose offerings give their New York cousins a serious run for their money.
Actually, New Jersey has lots of great bagels, so tell those New Yorkers where to stick it!
Location: New York, New York
Bagels may have found their proper footing in the New World, but what Queens-based Utopia Bagels aims to do is to match, as closely as possible, the Old World ways in which they were prepared for generations prior to coming to America.
Utopia even uses an oven from the 1940s to complete the baking process; it may be more time-consuming, but it lends it that extra TLC to ensure the best result possible. Call it retro-chic bagel making!
Location: Austin, Texas
“Keep Austin Weird” goes the local mantra in the capital of the Lone Star State, and Wholy Bagels clearly got the memo as they brag of “keeping Austin baked” with their New York-style bagel conjuring.
In the dark of each night, the good folks at Wholy Bagel roll their bagels from scratch so that they are piping hot when they throw open the doors to urban cowboys and hungry hipsters alike.
Yeastie Boys Bagels
Location: Los Angeles, California
The name is clever, especially given that Brooklyn’s Beastie Boys for a time relocated to Hollywood to advance their musical careers — though they later returned eastward.
Today Yeastie Boys is a major player in the City of Angels’ bagel scene and retails in some serious sandwiches like the Birdman, which includes turkey, bacon, tomatoes and sprouts in between two halves of an everything bagel. Try “flying” away after consuming that.