It’s Your Density
I was born in New York. I grew up outside the city. Since I moved back over a decade ago, I’ve lived in four different neighborhoods around Manhattan. So naturally when I think of great bagels, I think of … New Jersey.
This is an opinion I usually keep to myself. But I think most bagels in New York aren’t anything special. Going on reputation alone, you’d think you could get a good bagel, like a good slice, just about anywhere in New York. Ever since the puff-pastry style bagel overwhelmed the marketplace, it’s been difficult to enjoy a dense, crunchy, chewy bagel in the city.
If I had to sacrifce either the thin, crunchy exterior or the dense, chewy center, I’d lose the crunch. Where I grew un in Bergen County New Jersey, you can still get both.
Maybe that’s part of the problem. In New York, the bagel is such a menu-icon, every place has got to offer you a bagel. From diners to delis. So that eats away business from the bagel-specific shops. There’s not one within walking distance of my current apartment.
I thought Tal Bagels on 86th street did an OK job of keeping their bagels de-flated, and I liked that they answered “no” if you asked them to toast it. At least eight years ago they answered that way. Now they probably serve you a bagel that looks like a beach ball and will gladly slide it on a belt toaster for you.