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best bagel in boston?

missthebagelsbadly Oct 16, 2006 11:57 PM

iggys seem best. get them at whole foods. kupels leaves me cold. any ideas?

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  1. f
    fenian RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 17, 2006 12:35 AM

    I like Kupels' best, but they wouldn't be good in NYC imo. Bagel Rising is decent. I think Iggys' are interesting but too hard. Finagle a Bagel's bagels have OK flavor but the texture is far too bready. To be honest, I think Bruegger's is my second favorite.

    All in all, bagels are a Boston weak point imo.

    1. yumyum RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 17, 2006 12:38 AM

      It's heresy if you insist on a New York style bagel, but I like Brueger's in a pinch too. That said, I'm no bagel expert so don't shoot me.

      3 Replies
      1. re: yumyum
        Karl S RE: yumyum Oct 17, 2006 09:25 AM

        Iggy's bagels are not quite right.

        Bruegger's more traditional bagels are actually reasonably good, especially the pumpernickel, which is often (not always -- it varies) a thing of beauty.

        Rosenfelds in Newton Centre wins the local laurels. My personal favorite, because it is a bit closer to me, is Bagel World in Reading, which has a drive-through (the place can be a madhouse with teenagers on weekend mornings). Love their salt bagels (offering a salt bagel is an important flag for traditional bagels....)

        It's very important to use malt, as that makes for slow rise and tight texture. Bagels should not be huge and airy. Nor should they remain "fresh" very long. Finagle a Bagel is a great example of a non-bagel bagel.

        New York bagels, like NY pizza, have been on a decline for a generation. Much dough for both is outsourced to wholesalers.

        1. re: Karl S
          Joanie RE: Karl S Oct 17, 2006 12:30 PM

          I stopped in Rosenfeld's on Sun. when they had about 8 bagels left, bummed I couldn't get my potato. They most had sunflower left so I got that w/ light scallion cream cheese, a damn tasty bagel.

        2. re: yumyum
          steinpilz RE: yumyum Oct 17, 2006 03:03 PM

          I also like Rosenfelds and go there as it is close by. I think my favorite is caraway seed. They do sell out, people wait while the next batch of bagels are baking.

        3. g
          Gordito RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 17, 2006 04:10 AM

          Michael's Deli in Brookline brings in the good stuff.

          1. bitsubeats RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 17, 2006 04:12 AM

            there is a place I have been to in Newton Center that is great. I love their pumpernickel bagels...unfortunately I forget the name but most people know what it is

            1 Reply
            1. re: bitsubeats
              mabelm4050 RE: bitsubeats Oct 17, 2006 11:26 AM

              You're probably thinking of Rosenfeld's. They are quite good.

            2. b
              BOS_steve RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 17, 2006 05:00 AM

              1369 Coffee House

              good as hell

              1 Reply
              1. re: BOS_steve
                tatamagouche RE: BOS_steve Oct 17, 2006 12:09 PM

                Well, but they don't make them, presumably...where do they get them from, do you know?

              2. j
                Jellybelly RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 17, 2006 01:29 PM

                What about Katz's in Chelsea - we drive there from Brighton just for a great bagel! YUM!

                13 Replies
                1. re: Jellybelly
                  gini RE: Jellybelly Oct 17, 2006 02:00 PM

                  I also like Katz's. For some reason, I also like Iggy's everything bagel, but none of their other bagels. Go figure.

                  1. re: gini
                    windupbird RE: gini Oct 17, 2006 02:29 PM

                    IMO Katz's Bagel in Chelsea are the best and only REAL bagels in the Boston area. They are so good! Especially when they are warm! Worth the trip to old Chelsea by the sea. Try their "bagel dogs", too!

                    1. re: windupbird
                      Karl S RE: windupbird Oct 17, 2006 02:31 PM

                      Katz's must be hit or miss, because a number of mavens on the Boston board have been unimpressed.

                      1. re: Karl S
                        MichaelB RE: Karl S Oct 17, 2006 04:58 PM

                        I'm definitely in the hater camp -- I've tried Katz's several times and I can't understand what's to like - tasteless and dry (and I've usually gone mid-day saturday, so I doubt they were stale). Maybe they are hit-or-miss as you suggest; I guess I'll try them again and hope to be surprised.

                        My local favorite is definitely Rosenfeld's -- not GREAT but very good. I actually like the ones Iggy's sell -- not that they're good bagels; they aren't. But they are a tasty breadstuff, particularly toasted.

                        Bagel Rising getting lots of love here; I never tried them as I was under the misapprehension that they sold H&H, but I must have had them confused with another place, so that sounds promising.

                        Also haven't yet tried Mariposa's bagels -- their other baked goods are excellent, so that might be a contender.

                        1. re: MichaelB
                          Karl S RE: MichaelB Oct 17, 2006 05:14 PM

                          Good description of Iggy's bagel-ish breadstuff. The fact that they are indeed better toasted is another flag.

                          It may well be that Katz's has the real deal that must be eaten within an hour or two or being made. A rara avis, even in NYC, these days. But a good bagel place would not be selling the staled bagels as if they were fresh.

                          Note to Boston bagel lovers who are unacquainted with real bagels: traditionally, they are not supposed to stay fresh very long (like a Parisien baguette). The quickness of staling can be a marker of quality.

                          1. re: MichaelB
                            itaunas RE: MichaelB Oct 17, 2006 05:19 PM

                            The place I know that purports to sell H&H is Bagels by US just outside of arlington ctr. I haven't been in a long time, but they will ask if you want the bagel toasted.

                            1. re: itaunas
                              Karl S RE: itaunas Oct 17, 2006 05:32 PM

                              And those bagels are not great. I've tried three times to see it was the batch or general.

                              1. re: itaunas
                                MichaelB RE: itaunas Oct 17, 2006 07:36 PM

                                That's the place, thanks. Kinda cheeky to call themselves "Bagels by US" when they actually sell bagels by someone else.

                              2. re: MichaelB
                                gini RE: MichaelB Oct 17, 2006 08:18 PM

                                Don't be a hater.

                                Seriously, where can I get a pumpernickle bagel around here? Does Rosenfeld's have them? The ones that Katz's makes are mixed pumpernickle and plain dough.

                                1. re: gini
                                  Karl S RE: gini Oct 17, 2006 08:26 PM

                                  That's a marble bagel. Not pumpernickel!

                                  Actually, I think Bruegger's pumpernickel are usually quite good, especially when fresh. (The dough is definitely more complicated than the others, and there are "off" days at a couple of locations I attend, as it were.) When good, they are better than Rosenfelds in some respects (It's been a while since I compared them against each other directly).

                                  1. re: Karl S
                                    gini RE: Karl S Oct 17, 2006 08:30 PM

                                    Damn, I knew there was something wrong with them.

                                    Breugger's? Really. Shucks.

                                    1. re: gini
                                      Karl S RE: gini Oct 17, 2006 08:33 PM

                                      Go early but not too early (the pumpernickel seem to be the last of the varieties out of the hopper), probably because they'd have the slowest rise with the high-non-wheat flour content. At my local Brueggers, they are popular and run out a lot, and make more fresh. But in franchises where they aren't popular, they might linger longer and not be as fresh (but with less risk of not having any, of course!)

                                    2. re: Karl S
                                      yumyum RE: Karl S Oct 17, 2006 08:42 PM

                                      Ok, that's what I'm talking about. Bruegger's pumpernickle is my bagel of choice when I need a freshie. (I have a dozen H&H in my freezer for emergencies.)

                        2. d
                          David_A RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 17, 2006 01:31 PM

                          I would have to say that Kupels is my favorite in Boston and i am somewhat of a picky bagel person. I don't enjoy Breuggers very much and finagle's are not real bagels. I agree with that. I don't enjoy iggy's, or 1369's. I do like bagel risings sesame bagels. Some of the other one's they have don't taste as good. I am not sure why. I will try Micheal's since someone suggested it.

                          1. Maxinella RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 17, 2006 02:09 PM

                            Bagel World also has a place in Salem. For what it's worth, I'm from New York and go back to visit a few times a year. New York bagels are not as good as they used to be, either.

                            Aesop's in Lexington used to be pretty good. I know that the owner kept a location in Kenmore Square for a while, but I'm not sure if it's still in business. Anyone know?

                            Kupel's is definitely not as good as it used to be. Rosenfeld's is quite good--if you can get there. Their babka is to die for, and I like their challah.

                            1. hiddenboston RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 17, 2006 02:33 PM

                              Kupel's has good babka? Good to know! I just got two chocolate babkas from Fairway in Manhattan, and it was really, really good.

                              I do like Kupel's for bagels, and used to like Zeppy's in Randolph, though they closed a few months ago. I know some people who swear by Rosenfeld's, so I'll need to try that one of these days.

                              Funny thing is, when I go to NYC (I go a lot), I tend not to get bagels anymore. I've never been all that happy with bagels there, even at H&H and Zabar's. I went to some place in Midtown called Pick a Bagel recently; they had decent bagels, but nothing Earth-shattering.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: hiddenboston
                                Joanie RE: hiddenboston Oct 17, 2006 02:39 PM

                                I think he meant Rosenfeld's had good babka.

                                To Maxinells: I've never heard of Aesop's bagels in Kenmore Sq. Bruegger's has been there a long time, don't know Aesop's.

                                1. re: Joanie
                                  hiddenboston RE: Joanie Oct 17, 2006 03:00 PM

                                  Oops! Sometimes I read the posts too quickly. Now I REALLY need to hit Rosenfeld's. Nothing like good babka. And if their bagels are decent, all the more reason to go.

                                  I also bought some great chocolate rugelach from Fairway the other day, in addition to the babka. It was made at a place in the Bronx, but the name escapes me. Maybe I'll start ordering bagels, babka, and rugelach from the New York area by mail if I can find a good place or two that does that.

                                2. re: hiddenboston
                                  irwin RE: hiddenboston Oct 18, 2006 01:25 PM

                                  Zeppy's just closed their retail store, but sell bagels to BJ's, and are available in the Maine, Mass., and New Hampshire areas for about $3.29 dozen.

                                  1. re: irwin
                                    Pegmeister RE: irwin Nov 9, 2006 12:55 PM

                                    Ok, let me rephrase my post since the last one got deleted. My mission is to find out if Zeppy bagels are in fact still available in markets in Massachusetts. I don't find them any longer in Stop & Shop. I always felt that Zeppy's was the best.

                                    1. re: irwin
                                      chowciao RE: irwin Feb 5, 2007 04:22 AM

                                      Rebecca's cafes, also sell Zeppy's bagels...they're great - not up to NYC standard, but still tasty.

                                  2. w
                                    wontonton RE: tamerlanenj Oct 17, 2006 03:28 PM

                                    Brueggers used to have a "no toasting" policy for the reasons you mentioned above. They do it now because supposedly customers were incensed about having their toasting requests denied. I thought their original bagels were ok, but on the small side. Everytime I see thier square version advertised I'm turned off.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: wontonton
                                      Karl S RE: wontonton Oct 17, 2006 04:18 PM

                                      Small is historically a sign of quality for bagels, because if you use a discreet amount of malt to feed the yeast, they won't expand nearly as much as sugar-fed yeasted breads.

                                      The square things were apparently developed because their real bagels are too chewy (another good sign) to work well as a full sandwich holder. It's like cinnamon raisin bagels: it's the compromise that let's the more traditional stuff continue. I miss their salt bagels.

                                    2. c
                                      cweingarten RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 17, 2006 02:58 PM

                                      I agree, the best bagel in Boston is Bagel Rising. Kupels is good too (and they don't ask you if you want it toasted).

                                      1. z
                                        Zatan RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 17, 2006 03:32 PM

                                        I don't know who makes them, but the bagels at Peet's coffee in Coolidge Corner are awesome; tight, crusty, chewy and flavorful. They only have whole wheat and a seeded one, so not traditional I guess but very good. And they don't offer to toast them.

                                        1. l
                                          LStaff RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 17, 2006 07:02 PM

                                          The best bagel that I've had since moving from Rockland County, NY (where you could throw a rock a hit a better bagel shop than this)has been at Brueger's. $2.35 for a bagel and cc is a little out of hand though.

                                          Last time I was in NY, I tried to take my (then) girlfriend who was raised in MA to my favorite bagel shop - it was closed, ok second favorite - also closed, ok just a random bagel shop - bingo. OK bagels in my view, but my girlfriend was raving all day how good that bagel was and that she had never had one that good.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: LStaff
                                            fenian RE: LStaff Oct 17, 2006 07:04 PM

                                            It's not just the bagels that are better. The cream cheese is better. And often there is a variety of excellent smoked fish. Sigh. I don't like Bruegger's cream cheese very much, because I think it's too tangy.

                                            1. re: fenian
                                              Karl S RE: fenian Oct 17, 2006 08:05 PM

                                              Oh, yes, the Bruegger's CC tastes "cultured". I think of it as the Hershey's CC (fyi: Hershey's uses a somewhat soured milk to make its milk chocolate, which is why so many Europeans think American chocolate is an abomination).

                                              1. re: fenian
                                                maviris RE: fenian Oct 17, 2006 08:41 PM

                                                The cream cheese is another thing that makes Kupel's shine.

                                                Bruegger's/Finagle's cc have long shelf lives, and just aren't that good.

                                                1. re: fenian
                                                  psora RE: fenian Oct 18, 2006 03:58 AM

                                                  I like the low fat cream cheese at Bagel Rising - nice texture and some proper taste rather than the gummy wallpaper paste lowfat can be a lot of places. They're also my favorite place for bagels these days. Kupels was when I first moved here but they ain't what they used to be. I just go there as the best nearby place I know for an occasional bialy fix. Kupel's does still have really good cream cheese though.

                                              2. s
                                                saltshaker RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 17, 2006 07:19 PM

                                                Not in Boston, but there is a place in Gloucester called, I think Jim's Bagel, that has great bagels (in my opinion, can't claim to be a bagel purist). Kind of far to go for a fix, but if you ever find yourself on the North Shore...

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: saltshaker
                                                  StriperGuy RE: saltshaker Oct 18, 2006 01:10 PM

                                                  Jim's has some of the best bagels in the Boston area (I grew up in NYC if that gives me any credibility) and Jim's has absolutely the best whole wheat bagel I have ever eaten.

                                                2. b
                                                  barlev RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 17, 2006 08:32 PM

                                                  After living up here for 30 years, I've come the conclusion that there are no places to get a good bagel. NYC, unfortunately, is not much better. Abrahams Bagels (don't know if there still around) in Newburyport used to make a good bagel. The recipe was from NJ (I agree, NJ seems to be where the good bagels are nowadays). Bagels were not meant to be small loaves of bread and they were best eaten fresh (hot from the oven). To munch on a good bagel, you'd have to set the wayback machine for Brooklyn, circa the 1960s, and just stop into any neighborhood bagel bakery. And don't get me started on that recent Thomases' development . . . the square bagel bread thingy. An outright abomination!

                                                  1. Kip McSkipster RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 18, 2006 12:47 PM

                                                    I still maintain that Rosenfeld's, as many have said here, is the best around here (that I've tried). To be fair, I haven't tried Iggy's or Katz's, but Bagel Rising (especially), the chains, Kupel's are mostly too big, bready, not chewy or flavorful enough. I recently had a bagel from the place that gets H&H dough which was pretty good. Karl S - in my experience, Rosenfeld's gets stale pretty fast, unless they are put in a sealed bag.

                                                    1. m
                                                      missthebagelsbadly RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 18, 2006 01:16 PM

                                                      seems i struck a bagel-nerve. i grew up in brooklyn and bagel-memories are some of the best I have. anyone ever have an onion board? perhaps, unique to brooklyn via somewhere in eastern europe. havent had one in years. now, where to find the elusive knish.............

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: missthebagelsbadly
                                                        barlev RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 18, 2006 01:37 PM

                                                        yes, pleztlach . . . delish . . . never seen them around these parts. There a bakery chain (originally from the Island) in Boca Raton - Flakowitz . . . an old fashioned jewish bakery. The pletzles were excellent. As for knishes, Shubby's in Marblehead stocks knishes from Oceanside Knish. Not bad, but I really don't like the philo-dough nouveau style. Ordered from Yonah Shimmel . . . terrible. Mrs. Shatz is gone. I can only dream of the knishes of yesteryear.

                                                        1. re: barlev
                                                          missthebagelsbadly RE: barlev Oct 18, 2006 01:50 PM

                                                          oddly enough, i discovered pretty good knishes in worcester, at a grocery store deli counter. i cant recall the name of the store but think the knishes are called coney island als (or joes). i bought a case (much to the amusement of the deli man) . new york style old school knishes. still not the ones i remember having after going to the beach in brighton beach. those were not made individually but cooked on a large sheet pan and served in cut squares. those were the best!

                                                        2. re: missthebagelsbadly
                                                          fenian RE: missthebagelsbadly Feb 4, 2007 05:42 PM

                                                          bagels are one of my favorite things. i would eat them every morning if i could, but oh well. i mean, even outside of nyc you can get good bagels, just not in boston. i eat iggy's sometimes--they're so tough that they don't seem like bagels, but at least they have some character.

                                                        3. Maxinella RE: missthebagelsbadly Oct 18, 2006 01:17 PM

                                                          To Hidden Boston: It is Rosenfeld's that has good babka. Kupel's makes one that's a bit too dry for my taste. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

                                                          About Aesop's: I'm guessing either the Kenmore project never got off the ground, or the guy is using a different name for his wholesale business. I do remember having a long talk with the owner when he decided to close Aesop's. He said that places like Dunkin' Doughnuts were really eating into his business. The cost of bagel making was just too high, etc. A shame really. That said, I wonder if the Boston bagel has just always been slightly different than the New York style many of us grew up with. Don't even get me started on pizza.

                                                          To Oddly Enough: The knishes you're talking about are called Coney Island Knishes around here. You can buy them at the Butcherie and at Stop and Shops in Jewish areas. If the Stop and Shop has a kosher bakery, chances are that they'll sell Coney Island Knishes at the Deli counter. They arrive frozen, so often you can have the deli clerk go in the back and get you some to pop into the freezer.

                                                          1. s
                                                            scalfin2000 RE: missthebagelsbadly Nov 9, 2006 03:51 AM

                                                            I would like to note that Rosenfelds keeps it's bagels on the soft side because someone who likes them hard can toast them but there is no such process for softening. As such, their bagels usualy taste best after a very short toasting.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: scalfin2000
                                                              tamerlanenj RE: scalfin2000 Nov 9, 2006 02:33 PM

                                                              ugh...that is the stupidest philosophy in the history of bagelmaking. As if the texture of a toasted bagel is ANYTHING like the texture of a properly boiled/baked bagel. Remind me never ever ever to go to Rosenfelds.

                                                              What IS IT with New England and toasted bagels? They're an abomination.

                                                            2. b
                                                              beyond RE: missthebagelsbadly Feb 4, 2007 05:15 PM

                                                              Does anyone know how to check bagel quality and how to make nice bagels? Thank you if you can give me some information about that!

                                                              7 Replies
                                                              1. re: beyond
                                                                steinpilz RE: beyond Feb 4, 2007 06:15 PM


                                                                Regarding bagel quality, I think freshness/staleness - I buy mine at Rosenfelds, they last for two days.

                                                                1. re: beyond
                                                                  Karl S RE: beyond Feb 5, 2007 01:46 AM

                                                                  Bagels should be dense, not airy. They should stale relatively quickly (classically, they should start to stale by the end of the day you buy them!), and should not need to be toasted until they are stale. They should have a distinct, shiny crust, from being boiled before being baked. They should not be too big. The dough should be barely sweetened with malt, rather than sugar, so that the dough rises slowly and not too much.

                                                                  They should feel like lead in your stomach.

                                                                  They should be in classic flavors: plain, sesame, poppy, salt, rye, pumpernickel. They should not have raisins, vegetables or cinnamon....

                                                                  1. re: Karl S
                                                                    steinpilz RE: Karl S Feb 5, 2007 06:32 PM

                                                                    I think Rosenfeld's fits these criteria, they're dense, I don't think there are any funky-hippy flavours. They go stale by three days so I've gone to only buying two at a time. Give them a try.

                                                                    1. re: steinpilz
                                                                      Karl S RE: steinpilz Feb 6, 2007 01:47 PM

                                                                      Yes, Rosenfeld's are my local favorites, but it's a schlep for me to go to Newton from Melrose.

                                                                      1. re: steinpilz
                                                                        Blumie RE: steinpilz Feb 6, 2007 07:31 PM

                                                                        Sorry to break the news that Rosenfeld's carries both cinnamon raisin and (gasp) blueberry.

                                                                        1. re: Blumie
                                                                          Joanie RE: Blumie Feb 7, 2007 03:22 AM

                                                                          I thought they must have some of those "funky-hippy" flavors among the many choices. I still say potato is one of the best there.

                                                                          1. re: Blumie
                                                                            Karl S RE: Blumie Feb 7, 2007 04:00 AM

                                                                            Yes, they do. Those are not quality bagels, by definition. But if they pay the freight to keep the good ones coming, I will hold my tongue if not my fingers....

                                                                    2. b
                                                                      beyond RE: missthebagelsbadly Feb 5, 2007 02:09 AM

                                                                      Can anyone tell me how to judge the quality of bagels and any information about how to make a nice bagel? Thank u!

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: beyond
                                                                        Karl S RE: beyond Feb 5, 2007 06:18 AM

                                                                        In addition to the qualities I summarized in responding above to your first posting of this question, here is a link to a classic approach to making a quality bagel:


                                                                        Some prior Chowhound links on the Home Cooking board:



                                                                      2. s
                                                                        ShelT54 RE: missthebagelsbadly Feb 6, 2007 07:22 PM

                                                                        Cafe Bagel in Needham and Dedham and Bagel's Best in Needham are very good. Ditto Kupel's.

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