HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


Ess-A-Bagel...the winner

Ate, side-by-side, plain bagels from Ess-A-Bagel, Pinnacle, and Times Square Hot Bagels.

Ess-A-Bagel was the only one that tasted like a bagel, and not just bread with a hole in it. All three were puffier than bagels use to be in New York City. But Ess-A stays true to the authentic taste.

Pinncale was OK. Hot was mediocre.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: KTinNYC

      I really dislike H&H. So much that I didn't bother putting them in the competition.

      1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

        I've never understood the hype about H&H - truly just bread with a hole in it.

        I love Ess-A. I wish there were more locations.

        1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

          h and h east side bagels are better than h and h west side. less doughy

          1. re: fauchon

            The Tal bagel tasted like a mix of sourdough (which I like) and prezel (which I also like). But it didn't taste like a bagel.

            Ess-A still the champ.

          2. Absolute on the UWS. (Or, for the Outer Borough boards, the bagel place on Avenue N in Brooklyn.)

            1. Wait. Tal Bagels don't taste like Bagels? I may have grown up in Westchester NY (so not a "Native"), but if Tal dosen't "taste like a bagel", then maybe I am not sure what a bagel tastes like. Living in the city these past 15 years, I have been to Ess-A, H&H, among others, and yes they are all different but they are all bagels to me. When warm, Tal (IMO) is the best in NYC. My all time favorite were the ones from Danny's Cheese Shop in Mt. Kisco NY (closed 15 years now). Danny's bagels tasted like no other (they were dense and crisp), but we still considered them bagels.

              1 Reply
              1. re: tbear

                Tal makes a great roll with a hole in it, but it doesn't taste like an authentic bagel to me. They have a great variety of spreads, and their bagels are very fresh. But it tastes like a delicious sourdough prezel.

              2. Thoughts on David's?

                1. Does no one like Bergen Bagel in Brooklyn? I don't find it mentioned much on here and I think they make fantastic bagels. I've been really disappointed by H&H lately. Going to Ess-A-Bagel tomorrow. Tal doesn't toast, right? I have a problem with that.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: marlosse

                    If I remember correctly, Ess-A-Bagel doesn't toast either.


                    1. re: Midtown Jimmi

                      The one on 3rd ave in the 50s will toast them BUT they're quick to point out which ones are still warm and try to discourage it. Quite a site when they pull those two halves apart and the steam comes out. Yum.

                  2. A proper bagel doesn't need to be toasted. I suspect all the non-bagel bagels you see on the market these days are intended to be toasted, which is why they're made soft and bready. The only reason to toast a bagel is that it's stale.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: scrittrice

                      Reason not the need. Some of us just prefer our bagels toasted (especially if they're going to be buttered) and have for decades. I know a proper bagel from a rank imitation, and I've always liked mine toasted.

                      1. re: Striver

                        But if you get a fresh bagel out of the oven that is still warm, the butter will melt on it. I go to Ess-a-bagel often on the weekends and I'd say 75% of the time the bagel is still warm from the oven.

                        1. re: ESNY

                          I take your point, and often get warm bagels from Rolen in Riverdale (they make a pretty good bagel, too, BTW) - but warm is just not the same as toasted. It's the crunchiness of a toasted bagel that I most enjoy, especially the slightly burnt bits. It's just a matter of taste, after all.

                          1. re: Striver

                            Nice to be reminded. A few times i got mini bagels from Rolen in Riverdale that had the most delicious chewy, light leathery, flavorful crust! I got the plane mini ones just so there can be more crust ration. They're not always consistent, but when they're on, I don't think I've gotten a bagel like that anywhere else. ( If it weren't so far away...Without a car you have to take the 1 train to the end, and run up 80 steep steps, and walk up hill some more..)

                            1. re: HLing

                              Definitely agree. I think the minis are very close to the old-school NYC bagels I ate as a kid back in the 50's - sized right, too.

                              BTW, you can also get off the 1 at 231 St. and take the #7 bus up Riverdale Ave. from there - it stops across the street from Rolen (and remember that they're kosher, so they're closed on Saturdays).

                    2. Have you tried Murray's on Sixth? I find them less sugary than Ess-a-Bagel.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Magali

                        Murray's bagels are the best. Definitely my favorite

                      2. My favorite bagel in Manahattan is David's, on 14th. I've eaten at the one on 19th, but I can't recall if they are quite as good.

                        I'd take it over Ess-a-Bagel any day of the week.

                        As far as best bagel in 5 boroughs, id go with Bergen bagel, which i think someone mentioned above. Every time our friends come over from Park Slope, we ask them to bring us some. For whatever reason, the West 50s is a bagel vacuum.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: CDB

                          David's on 13th/14th is a terrific piece of soft warm bread, but not sweat enough for me to call it a bagel.

                          Had one on Saturday.

                        2. What about Kossar's? Not that I have tried them, but judging from their bialies, I would guess that they would have to be pretty spectacular.

                          1. not so much. they do have spectacular bialys but that's their strong suit.

                            1. Ok, and here's another thing. Which of these places is the best with the whole package, and by that I mean that the cream cheese is up to par with the bagels: thick, with good chives, know what I mean? I hear Absolute has great bagels but mediocre cream cheese. What's the best for both?

                              1. I've always been an Ess-a-Bagel devotee, but recently have been thrilled by the bagels at Zabar's. I don't know who supplies them to Zabar's and would like to know. They're sized far more appropriate than Ess and are chewy and just terrific.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: kodothedrum

                                  Oh good, I will be having these next weekend (bosses bring bagels into work when we work tax season saturdays). Can't wait to try them.

                                2. Anyone remember the late great Zooky's on Third Ave in Gramercy Park. They made their own bagels...and they were sublime. I'm going to try David's on 14th this weekend.....do they have decent Nova?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: howboy

                                    I was a big Daniel's fan when I lived in Murray Hill, though admittedly haven't been there in several years.