Cities That Have Better Bagels Than NYC


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The New York City culinary scene has something to offer all kinds of foodies, but it might be the humble bagel that the city is best known for. While many folks consider the NYC bagel to be the best in the world, there are a lot of cities across the country and internationally that might be coming for New York’s glutenous crown.

Can you really get a better bagel outside of NYC? The following 12 cities are your best shots at finding a bagel that’s as good (or, dare we say, better) than what you’d find in New York.

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Montreal, Canada

Montreal is widely considered to have the best bagels in North America; the rivalry between New York City and Montreal can get intense depending on who you’re talking to. We happen to really like both NYC and Montreal bagels though — they’re totally different beasts. The wood oven-baked Montreal bagel is much thinner and slightly sweeter in flavor than the NYC bagel.

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Istanbul, Turkey

Did you know Istanbul has its very own style of bagel? Turkish simit is very similar to Montreal-style bagels and you’ll find them all across the country. Simit is served in breakfast restaurants, but it’s also very common to find simit sellers in the street. The sesame seed-coated bagel is sweetened with fruit molasses and can be eaten on its own or with jams or cheese. It’s also a common snack come afternoon, but if you’re buying it later in the day, you’ll want to plan to have it with tea as it tends to get a little crispy later on.

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Detroit, Michigan

Food & Wine magazine recently named Detroit as one of the “better bagel towns between the two coasts” with aptly named ​​New York Bagels leading the pack. The well-loved bagel joint first opened in the early 1920s, and the historic address is still family-run over a century later. While it’s true that Detroit doesn’t necessarily have its own unique brand of bagel and rather rides the coattails of the New York-style breakfast food, it still does a bagel worth trying outside of NYC.

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San Francisco, California

Looking for a great bagel on the West Coast? You’re in luck! A recent study named San Francisco as the second-best city in the United States for bagel lovers, beating out a slew of East Coast contenders that you’d expect to see on the podium. San Francisco has the most bagel vendors per square mile — even more than New York. House of Bagels is considered to be one of the best local spots, and if you’re brave you can even try the controversial “cragel,” part croissant, part bagel.

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Jersey City, New Jersey

Jersey City also ranked very high within the study — which makes sense given the proximity to New York. It has even more bagel vendors per square mile than the neighboring New York City. The standout favorite among locals is Wonder Bagels, a local chain that’s been around for over three decades and is still considered to be one of the best spots in the city for a bagel.

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Boston, Massachusetts

“I’m a New Yorker living in Boston and they have a few really good bagel shops,” said one Reddit user. “NY Bagel Factory in Framingham, Mamaleh’s in Cambridge, Iggy’s in Cambridge, Blue Moon in Medway, Katz’s in Chelsea and Rosenfeld’s in Newton [are all great].”

Image Credit: Tiffany L./Yelp.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is already touted as one of the best food cities in the United States. Given that and its relative proximity to New York City, it only makes sense that the biggest city in Pennsylvania has some really great bagel shops. There’s not necessarily a Philly-style bagel but there are a lot of awesome spots to get a good NY-style bagel. Stand out options include The Bagel Place and Four Worlds Bakery.

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Xinjiang, China

You might be surprised to see the Xinjiang region of China on the list, but it’s one of the best places in the world for cheap and delicious bagels. The bagel-like street food — known as girde naan — is cooked in a tandoori oven, which gives it a crispy exterior and a gloriously fluffy interior. It’s not eaten with cream cheese or lox, however, you’ll want to eat it fresh out of the oven, either dunked into your morning tea or eaten with soup.

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Krakow, Poland

The bagel is said to have originated in Jewish communities in Poland, so it only makes sense that Krakow has some of the best bagels in the world. Writer Leo Rosten claimed in “The Joys of Yiddish” that bagels can be traced all the way back to 1610 when the fluffy bread was given to women during childbirth.

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Vienna, Italy

Some folks claim that Austria is actually the birthplace of the bagel. The story starts when a Viennese baker created a bread in the shape of King Jan Sobieski of Poland’s stirrup to celebrate his victory over the Turks in the Battle of Vienna. While there’s no way to know for sure exactly who created the first bagel, what is known is that the city still has great bagels to this day.

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London, England

The Brick Lane district in London has been famous for delicious bagels dating all the way back to the nineteenth century, when Jewish bakers would display their offers right in the shop window. Sadly there is only one remaining bagel shop in the neighborhood, but Beigel Bake Brick Lane Bakery is well worth the visit should you find yourself in the UK with a hankering for a bagel.

Image Credit: Denise V./Yelp.

Orlando, Florida

Florida — for bagels? You bet! Interestingly enough, Orlando was named the third-best city for bagel lovers with some of the top-rated bagel shops in the country. It’s also worth noting that a few hours down the road, Fort Lauderdale has the fifth most bagel shops per square mile in the entire United States.

Image Credit: Jeff’s Bagel Run/Yelp.

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