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Bagels in Boston?

  • m

Just moved to Somerville from suburban New Jersey and can't seem to find even remotely adequate bagels. So I'm turning to y'all. Any suggestions? Please include the nearest T stop. I'm directionally challenged.

Thanks.
Mark

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  1. Welcome to Boston, land of the bagel damned. I have yet to find a decent bagel in Boston; I've heard tell that Kupel's, in Brookline, is good, but have yet to check it out. If you go, tell me how it is.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Seth Ditchik

      Being from Vermont originally, I sure don't know a good bagel and am fine eating choc. chip ones from Finagle-a-Bagel (blasphemy I know). But that bagel place in Newton Center that's downstairs seems pretty good and I thought people liked the bagels at Zathmary's. Aren't they brought in from New York?

      1. re: Joanie

        Bagels from Boston are as good as those to be jad in NY of NJ. So enjoy already.

        1. re: Romero

          I am also a recent transplant from suburban NJ....the real mecca of good bagels and bialys. Kupel's used to be much better when I visited here as a kid. The statement that Boston bagels are just as good as NY or NJ is so laughably false.

          Rosenfeld's in Newton seems like a good try.

          1. re: Baruch

            Laugh all you want. I've tasted NY and NJ bagels and don't see what the big deal is about. Bialys are another story though.

            1. re: Romero

              It really depends on which bagelry you buy from. It's true that there are plenty of bad bagel places in the NY/NJ area; however, I still contend that it is constitutionally impossible to get get an amazing bagel outside of the NYC metro area. For my money, you'll never find bagels (in Boston or elsewhere) as good as those at Pick-A-Bagel in NYC.

              My theory is that it has something to do with the fact that in NY, bagels are a staple of the diet, whereas the same cannot be said in Boston. The sheer competition in NYC means that substandard bagelrys suffer, while the lack of said competition in Boston means that you can offer a bad bagel (with berry or chocolate chips no less--a schande, as my grandmother would say) and prosper.

              Could also be that Bostonians don't know a bagel from a hole in the ground.

              1. re: Seth Ditchik

                Rather, it's more likely because New England is historically muffin and quickbread country, not bagel country, and offers a variety of holes in the wall with superlative muffins and quickbreads that are harder (but of course not impossible) to find in the NY region. As you say, greater competition makes for greater range of quality.

                1. re: Karl

                  Romero...you are just not going to the right places.

                  1. re: Karl

                    So where in Boston can I find these muffins and quickbreads?

                    Thanks.

                    Doug

                  2. re: Seth Ditchik

                    I would never be so foolish as to suggest that Boston bagels can stand up to NY/NJ bages. At the same time, it is wrong to say you can't get a great bagel outside of the tri-state area. Montreal has some of the world's greatest bagels. They are very different from NY bagels (larger hole, less uniform surface, baked in a wood-fired oven like you see in New Haven pizzerias), but equally impressive, and people there take bagels just as seriously as New Yorkers do. And you won't find any low-fat chocolate-chip cranberry nonsense, either. It's strictly "white seed" (sesame), "black seed" (poppy) or plain. And some of the better shops also have fantastic chopped liver and smoked fish.
                    If anyone is ever up there, the top spots are Fairmount Bagel (on Fairmount), St. Viateur Bagel (on St. Viateur) and, for a more complete deli experience, R.E.A.L. Bagel on Cote-St.-Luc (I think--memory fades).

                2. re: Baruch

                  Kupel's was a big disappointment. Bagels should be compact and chewy, but Kupel's are huge and puffy. They have a real crumb, unlike Montreal bagels. Kupel's has a huge variety of flavors and toppings. The dark rye bagels taste delicious, even if the texture is lacking. We bought smoked salmon from the deli case at Kupel's and it was so vile we could barely choke it down: intensely fishy and slimy.

                  Are there any bagel bakeries in Boston that use wood-burning ovens? I've yet to eat a bagel baked in an electric oven that could match the flavor of a wood fired bagel.

              2. re: Joanie

                The place in Newton Center is called Rosenfeld's, and they're some of the best in Boston (near the Newton Center T stop on the D line).

                Kupel's never impressed me, although that might be because I never seem to get them when they're fresh. Even so, I feel they're overrated.

                I also enjoy the bagels at Bagel Rising on Comm Ave in Allston (Comm Ave and Harvard stop on the B line).

                The best bagels I've ever had are still H&H in NYC.

            2. Kupel's bagels are the best in the area:) Get there early in the morning for the best selection (usually still warm) and try the veggie or honey walnut schmeer... They're on Harvard St in Brookline; closest T stop is Green line B, intersection of Comm Ave and Harvard and walk up several blocks. Depending on where in Somerville you are located, the #66 bus goes from Harvard Square straight up Harvard St across the river, and will drop you right across the street.

              That whole little area has all sorts of kosher food, restaurants, a grocery, bagels, and Ruth's kosher chinese take-out:)

              Link: http://www.boston-online.com/bagels.h...

              1. r
                Rachel Fasten

                I grew up two blocks from kupel's bagels and the whole section of coolidge corner, brookline, which used to be far more jewish than it is now. Kupel's has always been one of the best. I recommend that you get yourself a dozen bagels (definetely some of them garlic!) and head down the street to the Butcherie and buy yourself some smoked sable and lox and a bunch of cream cheese and then head home with your sack of goodness and fix a spread fit for a Queen. Don't forget the coffee and sliced tomato and red onion and cucumber!
                This will turn into a habit...

                1. I'd recommend Rosenfelds, in Newton Center (right near the T stop); it's downstairs in a little group of shops. They, I believe uniquely in Boston (but I could be wrong, especially with regards to some competition in Chelsea, where many people still (unreasonably) feel unsafe to tread), make theirs with malt, which produces a slower rise, a denser and more classic bagel with superior taste. I
                  I've heard less enthusiastic things about Kupel's in the past couple of years, but cannot verify (it was too much of a scene to bother).

                  New York's own bagels have gone downhill in the past couple of generations. They are fine, but less so than they once were. Most bakers have switched from malt to sugar, which allows faster rising and bigger, less dense and chewy bagels (if it ain't heavy in your stomach, it ain't a real bagel) with less flavor. always thought this trend started, however, as a concession to older customers who could not chew the real thing; at least that's what I heard at the time.

                  Then there are bialys, and in that category, the NY leaders outclass anything here....

                  1. I don't know if it's worth the trip from Somerville, but if you find yourself in Swampscott go to Newman's Bakery. They make the best bagel I've had in the Boston area. I am not from NYC so I can only say with confidence that Newman's is better than Kupel's.

                    Newman's Bakery
                    252 Humphrey St
                    Swampscott
                    781-592-1550

                    1. Close to Somerville, in Arlington, are 2 pretty good bagel places. "Bagels by US", on 791 Mass Ave, are very good but gotta get there early because they sell out. Second best and even closer to Somerville is "Bagels Etc." on 369 Mass Ave. I don't know if there's T access, if there's any, it's by bus.