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My Kingdom For A Good Bagel!

I don't get it. Where there are Italian Americans, there's supposed to be good Pizza. Where there are Jews, there's supposed to be good Bagels. (Not to mention good Chinese food). But since I crossed the Hudson some 13 years ago, I've found exactly one bagel joint in New Jersey that's any good at all, and that's Bagel Bin in Bernardsville. If you can disregard the fact that the proprietors are nastier than a cross between a rattle snake and Seinfeld's soup nazi , these are the only decent bagels I've found in the garden state. Remember, mind you, that I'm using H&H Bagels in NYC as the gold standard, and that I'm not interested in the usual NJ cake style "Wonder Bread with a skull cap" bagels that are everywhere. Does anyone have a recommendation for another H&H style, chewy bagel this side of the Hudson?

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  1. mmgpsych,

    Oy! You really aren't serious about H&H being the gold standard? There is definitely *better* than that!!

    In our neck of the NJ woods, we are, unfortunately, cursed with some of the worst Italian restaurants known to mankind. However, the one thing we do have is a great bagel.

    Therefore, come ye, my good friend, to Manalapan and enter Bagel World! Opened more than 35 years ago by bagel bakers from Brooklyn who just happen to know a thing or two about how to make a great bagel, they're still making them the old-fashioned hand-rolled way. On a Sunday morning, nothing beats a fresh-out-of-the-oven Bagel World bagel shmeared with a biseleh cream cheese. (O.k., a lot more than a biseleh.) So, when can I expect you! :-))

    12 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      RGR - I have to agree with mmgpsych. H & H is my gold standard as well. Sorry :) Anyway, my perfect bagel is a plain (it has to be a plain to be a true bagel), a shmear of cream cheese (soft not whipped) on both sides followed by a slice of tomato, onion and the thinest layer of Nova. This masterpiece must be accompanied by a glass of fresh orange juice and a Sunday times. The ultimate NY Sunday breakfast/brunch. All that being said, I haven't had one in years. :) BTW, while I can't help with a recommendation if RGR says the place is good, you can bet your bottom dollar that the place is fabulous.

      1. re: bgut1


        I prefer more than just a thin layer of Nova. A few shtickles at least. Otherwise, I agree with everything else about your perfect Sunday breakfast/brunch, including the o.j. and the "Times," though I like to add a few Greek olives. Come to think of it, we also haven't had bagels & lox in ages. Hmmm.... I think I've decided what we'll be having this coming Sunday.... :-))

        P.S. Get to Bagel World sometime, and I feel confident you'll change your mind about H&H being the gold standard. :-)

        1. re: RGR

          Bagel World is the best. My optometrist is in the strip mall across Rt 9. Before the appt., I brave running across Rt. for one of their bagels to nosh on waiting for my appt. I get a dozen or 2 to freeze and take bake to Maine.

          1. re: RGR

            That's one of my "pet peeves". It seems no one can "thinly" slice nova anymore. They get that pre-cut junk that is too thick and pile on much too much. I am dying for a crusty on the outside bagel (not doughy) with a schmear of scallion crme cheese and thinly sliced, fresh nova, oh, yummy.


            1. re: CatLadyJan

              Yes indeedy, CatLadyJan. Oh for the days of living around the corner from Zabars on Broadway. Those old folk behind the fish counter were artists, I tell you. As one of them said to me: "If you can't read newspaper through a slice of lox, it's too thick already!"

              O tempores! O mores! Oh crap! :-))))


        2. re: RGR

          This is news! I didn't know you could get a good bagel in central NJ. Thanks for the tip.

          1. re: RGR

            Bagel World has a website. You absolutely must go there to see what happens when you drag the cursor.


            1. re: RGR

              oh my, we agree! bialys to die for. bagel world is an amazing place.

              1. re: RGR

                Strange thast their web site says "kosher" all over it and they offer ham (read sandwich menu board). How does that work?

                1. re: 10gallonhat

                  They are strictly kosher under rabbinical supervision and sell only dairy products in the store. No meat of any kind. See the main menu board: http://www.bagelworldnj.com/mainmenu.htm

                  Everyone who buys bagels is not kosher, so the sandwiches on the page you are referring to are suggestions for various combinations you can put together on a bagel at home, including ham.

                  1. re: RGR

                    Sandwich menu:
                    bacon/tomato/cream cheese is $3.25
                    Ham/salami/provolone is $5.50
                    pastrami/swiss/lettuce/tomato/onion is $5.50

                    Are you saying they give you a bunch of separate packages to take home and assemble for the price quoted? They are clearly selling pork products in either case, I doubt they charge for suggesting a combination that you need to buy elsewhere.

                    1. re: 10gallonhat

                      Aha! I've figured out what's going on here. The Manalapan store is where the bagels are baked and is strictly kosher and dairy only. So, looking at that menu, you will not see any meats, kosher or otherwise. You are looking at the menu for the satellite store in Marlboro. No bagels are baked there, and it is not kosher. Ergo, the sandwiches there include non-kosher meats.

            2. Eli's in Aberdeen in the shopping center next to the Clearview Cinemas. The Eli's in Freehold is good too.

              2 Replies
              1. re: njeggy1

                Going back nearly 40 years. Eli's was the only bagel bakery in this area until Bagel World opened. Once that happened, since BW was so much more conveniently located from our house -- (2 minutes! -- and the bagels were so excellent, it was "Good-bye" Eli's. Haven't had an Eli's bagel since then, so I can't comment on the current quality.

                1. re: njeggy1

                  Eli's in Freehold sucks. I used to go to Eli's in Matawan and had great service and bagels. Freehold location has a cook that tends to over cook the bagels. More over their is a weekend staff that is rude and has horrible customer service. The "staff" tends to greet certain ethnic customers with warm welcomes and quick efficient service. But slow inconsistent service for others. They also seem to pick and choose when to offer cooked food. Today 1/1/09 they posted that the store was open until 1 PM. At 11:15, when I arrived they refused to cook a sandwich since the grill was closed. The weekday morning staff provides good service, but I cannot give them my business ddue to the issues with the bagels and the weekend staffing.

                  I then drove a mile away to Manhatten bagel who was also closing at 1 PM and had great service, hot cooked food, and better bagels.

                2. I like Terrace Bagels on Rte 9 North in Freehold, they also have a shop in Brooklyn.

                  1. Not as chewy as my late, lamented Bagels by the Beach in Ocean City (still mourning after a year and a half), but my current favorite convenient to my commute is Mountain Lakes Bagels on Rt 46E in Mountain Lakes (west of Parsippany).

                    1. If H&H is your gold standard, order them. They ship!

                      As a former employee during my high school years, I have a soft spot for Livingston Bagel.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: harrison

                        Thanks Harrison. I'm well aware of them shipping as I've sent some to a homesick friend out in the midwest. For me however, I have to have them warm out of the oven. :)

                        1. re: bgut1

                          I hear you. I'm 5 blocks away and have them plenty, although I do think Absolute further uptown is better!

                          1. re: bgut1

                            bgut: I'm with ya. One of my offices is a four minute back and forth sprint from H&H on Broadway, and the first thing I do when a patient cancels . . .

                        2. I have never been to H&H, however I do believe that Brooklyn Bagels and Deli in Freehold Borough has an excellent bagel. They are located just off East Main Street in a strip mall (for lack of a better term) next to the Hall of Records Annex.

                          I would also recommend the Bagel Oven on Monmouth Street in Red Bank.

                          1. Best bagels jfood knows in his old stomping grounds are Bagel Chateau in Millburn and Livingston Bagel in Livingston.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jfood

                              oh my jfood...the Bagel Chateau does take me back.
                              Wonderful warm bagels with whipped butter!

                            2. I've heard really good things from former New Yorkers about Sheepshead Baygels on Rt 35 north in Holmdel. I haven't tried them yet.

                              My husband is a former NY resident and bagel snob. The bagels in the deli in the Ursula Plaza in Long Branch are the best he's found so far.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: fershore

                                fershore - I've tried the bagels at the shop in the Ursula Plaza as well and can attest to their excellence.

                                1. re: bgut1

                                  Time for a Bagel in Morris Plains, across from the Morris Plains Train Station on Speedwell Avenue. Their well-done sesame bagel is as good as it gets.

                                2. re: fershore

                                  Please... where in Long Branch is Ursula Plaza?

                                3. If you are ever in the Cherry Hill, NJ area, stop at Bagel Spot on Kings Highway. The best bagels around, served with a scowl, so you know they are real. Boiled, not baked like those fluffy WonderBread bagels from DD.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: mschow

                                    For what it's worth, The Bagel Spot bagels are Kosher.

                                  2. I love H & H as well. Bagels for You in Warren although not H & H, are the best in the area.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: s.piller

                                      661 Broad St
                                      Shrewsbury, NJ 07702

                                      This is my place of choice and ive tried most of the others in the area mentioned here.My standard is set by Bens bagels ,Brick Lane,London,England(my first ever ) and Ess-a-Bagel in Manhattan.

                                      1. re: xny556cip

                                        I've had them a couple times. They're my second choice. My favorite is Hole-Lot-O-Bagels in Middletown, on Rt. 35 in the Pathmark shopping center. I especially like their Hole-Lot-O-Grain.

                                    2. What's wrong, Lenders doesn't make the cut? Just kidding.

                                      I like Eli's on 9 North, not sure if it's Manalapan or Freehold. Bagel Boy on 516 in Old Bridge next to Krispy Pizza (also very good grandmas pie but I digress) a little west of browntown shopping plaza. Both are really good but IMHO fall short of NYC bagels.

                                      Wegmans makes a decent bagel, not stellar but palatable.

                                      Avoid the bagel store by fairway and route 9 north in Old Bridge in the Shop Rite shopping center. They are full of air and down right awful.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: angelo04

                                        Thanks so much for all the suggestions!

                                        1. re: angelo04

                                          I stay away from Bagel Boy on 516. I asked for four kinds of bagels 3-3-3-3. I got home, went to freeze half, and found that there were only 11 bagels. One kind they gave me only two of. It is a little hard to imagine that they could have accidentally miscounted two bagels as three. But whether they are dishonest or really are that bad at counting, they are a good place to avoid. I have never gone back.

                                          1. re: Mark Leeper

                                            Never had bad service. I wouldn't write them off completely after one screw up like you had. IMHO, you are spiting yourself becuase good bagels are hard to come by in our parts. Certainly write them off if that happens again. For me it is still a good bagel for NJ by a native NY'ers standards.

                                            1. re: Mark Leeper

                                              I've never been to Bagel Boy, but you wrote them off and are suggesting others stay away because they shorted you *one* bagel *one* time? Did you call and tell them about it? If you did and they refused to make good on the mistake, then I could see boycotting them. If you didn't follow up, I would chalk it up to an innocent error, try them again, and before leaving the store, I would count the number of bagels in the bag.

                                              1. re: RGR

                                                And they never mentioned if the bagels were good or bad. Hey I've had up and down couts on many things and just count it as errors. Not a month ago I asked for a dozen clams at the market and came home to find 14. Cwap happens.

                                          2. If you're anywhere near New Hope, PA, you might want to try this place mentioned on the Pennsylvania board. I've never been but I will certainly check it out the next time I cross the Delaware.


                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: ambrose

                                              Interesting. I believe we've had their pretzels but perhaps wrongly turned our snotty urbane noses up at their bagels. Great bagels in tourist-town Pennsylvania? You kiddin' or what? We'll try 'em next time we're down that way.

                                            2. Try the Hot Bagel Bakery near the corner of W.Park Ave and Monmouth Rd in Ocean NJ.
                                              Incredible, hand made, bagels.........and large line on weekends. They won't dissappoint.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: JNUNZMAN

                                                Do you mean Oakhurst, and not Ocean? Is it the bagel place in the little strip mall that also has a pharmacy, on the other side of Monmouth from Brennans? If so, I pass by it all the time and will definitely give it a try.

                                                1. re: mmgpsych

                                                  thats the place, it is in Oakhurst. I live around the corner from there and the bagels are great. The lines outside are huge during the Jewish holidays.

                                                  1. re: mmgpsych

                                                    it's right on the Oakhurst, Ocean, West Long Branch border......yes that's it.

                                                    1. re: JNUNZMAN

                                                      Just had a very good sesame bagel at Hot Bagel Bakery. Quite good! It's a little thicker and cakier/breadier in the middle than I'd ultimately prefer but the crust is perfect as is the taste. Mighty good recommendation. Thanks!

                                                2. I like the place on 27 in Highland Park. North/west? side of the street by a Chinese restaurant (which ain't so great.)

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: The Engineer


                                                    Eli's Hot Bagels
                                                    4345 US Highway 9, Freehold, NJ

                                                    Hot Bagel Bakery
                                                    67 Monmouth Rd, Oakhurst, NJ