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Bagels in Boston

Where is your favorite place to get a dozen bagels in Boston?

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  1. I'll attempt to preempt the usual carping about the sad state of bagels in Boston by acknowledging that, sadly, there are no genuinely great bagels here.

    That said, once or twice a summer, I do love a weekend brunch of a mixed dozen from Kupel's on Harvard Street in Brookline, with fresh farmstand tomatoes, thin-sliced onions, good cream cheese and some nice smoked salmon and/or whitefish salad. They're not the greatest, but they get the job done. (Would I ever make the trip if they weren't walking distance from my house? Maybe not.)

    Fair warning: literally EVERYTHING ELSE they sell at Kupel's is vile. Never get anything except the bagels.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

      Iggy's, while not making bagels in a traditional way (boiling), has good "bagels." At Tico, on the weekends, Schlow has H&H bagels shipped up from NYC. I get bagels shipped to me from H&H routinely and otherwise enjoy the poppy "bagels" from Iggy's.


      222 Berkeley St, Boston, MA 02116

      1. re: scotty27

        Iggy's "bagels" are definitely something different, but the multi-seeded ones are my favorite bready crusty breakfasty thing with a hole in the middle.

        1. re: loper

          Having spent my childhood in Brooklyn, with a traditional bagel store two blocks away, I have to give a reserved thumbs up for Iggy's multiseed. It is by no means a NY bagel, but it is satisfying in its own way, perhaps because it is so nice and dense and chewy, quite unlike the fluffy donut-like things peddled by so many around here.

          1. re: PinchOfSalt

            I agree. It's no more a bagel than the pizza at Emma's is pizza, but both are delicious. I mean, what else could these purveyors call them? Baked Serbian Rolls with a Hole in the Middle? Armenian Style Flatbread with Tomatoes & Cheese? A bagel. A pizza. Much easier.

        2. re: scotty27

          Bagels By US in Arlington uses H&H bagels (shipped frozen, baked there). I'd go there more often if I lived in Arlington.

            1. re: scotty27

              interesting. i didn't realize iggy's didn't boil their bagels. source?

              1. re: autopi

                The source is Ivan, who with his wife, Ludmilla, are the original owners of Iggy's. They have since moved to Australia. In conversation with an Australian blogger, Ivan said, "Ivan informed me they are steamed, not boiled, as Iggy does not believe in boiling bagels." Now why the bakery doesn't "believe" in boiled bagels is a different matter...


                1. re: scotty27

                  interesting -- thanks for sharing! steaming is probably easier for a commercial bakery (assuming you are foregoing the lye bath), but for making at home, boiling is probably easier (or at least not harder).

                  1. re: autopi

                    I can't imagine why they steam. The big NY bagel guys are commercial, they boil. As I said, Iggy's is a Serbian bakery; it has as much to do with "real" bagels as Emma's does with "real" pizza. Still: Iggy's "bagels" are delicious. And: When I want I real bagel, I ship up H&H.

            2. re: Jenny Ondioline

              I disagree with Jenny. Katz Bagel Bakery would be considered WELL above average in the NYC area. It might not win "Best in the Five Boroughs" or whatever, but people would go out of their way to go there.

              Katz Bagel Bakery
              139 Park St, Chelsea, MA

              1. re: Alcachofa

                I concur, Alcahofa. While I know excellent bagels are available in New York, they can be elusive. And Katz is up there with the best that I've had from there (and I've had a good number).

            3. Rosenfelds in Newton comes pretty close to approximating a good bagel.

              1. i like the ones at iggys, but they are best if you can get them from the retail outlet in alewife.

                1. I really like the bagels at Rosenfeld's in Newton and Katz's in Chelsea. Most people will tell you that nothing in Boston can stand up to NYC, Montreal, etc., but I think these two can...

                  That said, in my experience, the other bagels around Boston aren't too great. (Although I am a sucker for the occasional Au Bon Pain asiago cheese "bagel.")

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: zach272

                    +1 for Rosenfeld's and Katz's. However, I will +1 for what Jenny says too!

                    1. re: CookieLee

                      rosenfelds, katz's, iggy's for a montreal style bagel, and breughers even though it's a chain. with due respect to jenny, kupel's bagels are close to inedible for size and puffiness.

                      1. re: teezeetoo

                        Do you mean to say that Rosenfeld's, Katz's, and Iggy's actually have Montreal-style bagels (thinner, sweeter, etc.)? I haven't had the first two but Iggy's bagels that I have had are definitely not Montreal-style. They are good though - if a bit bready - if one needs a bagel. I haven't found anything I love yet in this area but find the bagels at Johnny's Foodmaster (in the bins) are actually not too bad when really fresh. A pretty generic bagel, but they have a decent chewiness, aren't too bready (a good crust to insides ratio), and have the standard bagel flavors: sesame, poppy, onion, everything, plain as well as blueberry and raisin.

                    2. re: zach272

                      Rosenfeld's are the best I've had in the area and are pretty good, and a step above Bruegher's which aren't bad, but not quite the level I experienced at a few shops I used to frequent in Rockland Co. NY when I lived in the area. May have to take a trip to Rosenfeld's tomorrow morning now.

                      There is also a pretty decent bagel shop we used to frequent in Acton called Bagels Plus on Great Road in front of the Colonial Spirits lot.

                      1. re: LStaff

                        Got a half dozen at Rosenfeld's this morning and they were not as good as I remembered them to be. By the time I got home (20 minutes from being handed the bag and still warm), they were already too hard and crusty for my likes. Sort of an airy breadiness on the inside too, not dense and soft.

                        Next time I am craving bagels, I'll take the trip out to Acton instead and see how they live up to my memory..

                      2. re: zach272

                        I finally had Montreal bagels in Montreal last summer -- straight out of the oven at the legendary St. Viateur's -- and as someone who grew up on bagels in Brooklyn, I thought they were interesting but basically lousy: insubstantial and overly sweet. Iggy's bagels, which allegedly have some stylistic connection to Montreal (besides the fact that Iggy's founders spent time there) are not really at all like what I had in Montreal: way too chewy and none too tasty (and I say this is a huge fan of Iggy's breads in general). Hell, Breugger's is a better bagel than Iggy's. But, as other posters have pointed out, Katz's and Rosenfeld's are as good as you can get in Boston -- and both are nearly or as good as most bagel's you'll get in NYC these days.

                      3. I've heard the Walnut Street Market in Newton gets Montreal bagels somewhat regularly.

                          1. re: aburstyn

                            +1 for Cafe Fresh. I think there's as good as nearly any bagels I've had in NYC, and I've tried a lot of the famous places.

                            I still need to get to Katz's though.

                          2. Rosenfeld's and Katz's stand up pretty well to a NY bagel. Have always served them to guests from Ny and NJ with great success. If those two don't satisfy you'll have to go to yankeeland.

                            1. I am Brooklyn born with strong NY roots and have made Bagel World (Salem, Reading, Danvers) my regular stop. Fantastic bagels and $7.25 a bakers dozen

                              Their french toast bagel is fantastic and I am an everything bagel kinda guy. So are their sandwiches good and the coffee is strong and flavorful.


                              8 Replies
                              1. re: ipsofatso

                                I used to live on the North Shore, and I thought their bagels were too soft & smushy. I hate smooshy bagels. (Have only been to the one in Salem).

                                1. re: threedogs

                                  I think they are specially formulated for toasting, so maybe that's why you found them smooshy. I don't they just seem fresh. Sure, I have a friend who will FedEx me some Tal bagels from NYC but the best on the NS is Bagel World. Well, and Katz's is pretty great but I am not in Chelsea too often,

                                  1. re: ipsofatso

                                    I toasted them - well, actually, the way I love me bagels is to cut them, them put them on bake in my toaster oven. Mmm - crunchy on the outside, hot & soft on the inside. Was so excited to get the Bagel World ones, only to be disappointed when they smooched flat.

                                    I've seriously given up on finding any that I like. Day old Stop & Shop bagels fill my freezer til I start my attempt at baking my own, as soon as I get the barley malt I'm lacking (not super-fantastic, but they are, at least, not squishy, tops of what I can't stand - any day old bread is brought back to life w/a little water & some time in the oven).

                                    I bake my own bread all the time - it's about time I learn how to do my own bagels.

                                    1. re: threedogs

                                      I've been thinking the same thing (if I can bake bread, I can bake bagels). At the risk of sending this into "Home Cooking" territory, there was a good post on bagel-making recently on Serious Eats. He links to a couple of different recipes.

                                      My wife and I try to pick up bagels when we are visiting her family in NJ, and then freeze them for future cravings. If I want to buy bagels around here, I usually go to Bagels by US in Arlington. As someone already mentioned, they have H&H Bagels. Not perfect but better than most of my alternatives. Until I start baking them, that is!

                                      1. re: stomachofsteel

                                        Good link - thanks! I *do* go to The Fresh Loaf (mentioned in the link that followed this link) all the time, and believe me, people there have dissected the art of bagel making, lol.

                                        1. re: stomachofsteel

                                          Huh. That recipe looks entirely promising. I should experiment.

                                        2. re: threedogs

                                          Homemade bagels are just like the ones I got from the corner deli in Brooklyn as a kid. Of all the recipes I have tried, I am most pleased with the Bread Baker's Apprentice. They are surprisingly easy to make, especially if you have a stand mixer [a heavy duty one.]

                                    2. re: ipsofatso

                                      I love Bagel World bagels too. Luckily for me they are a long drive away so I only get them a couple times a year.

                                    3. I wouldn't agree that there are no bagels worth eating around here. Too many people make it sound like everything is a waste of time. Nonsense. In addition to some of the ones others have mentioned, If you're near the south shore try Gunther Tooties. There are several with one right in Quincy Center near the T, and I find them perfectly satisfactory.

                                      Gunther Tooties
                                      2053 Washington St, Hanover, MA 02339

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: RVT

                                        Needs mention:

                                        Katz Bagel Bakery
                                        139 Park Street, Chelsea, MA 02150-2727
                                        (617) 884-9738

                                        pass the matzoh!!! happy Passover ‎

                                        Katz Bagel Bakery
                                        139 Park St, Chelsea, MA

                                        1. re: ipsofatso

                                          Yes - Happy Passover! I can't believe that I lived in Malden all my life (except for this part of it, lol), and I never knew about Katz. Still haven't remembered to find it whenever I'm out in that area.

                                          1. re: threedogs

                                            It definitely off the beaten path but Katz's is really the best old-school chewy bagel of your dreams that one can get N. of Boston. I make sure that whenever I happen to be in or around Revere, E. Boston or Chelsea I stop in and grab two dozen as they freeze well too.

                                            1. re: ipsofatso

                                              I am SO getting some as soon as I get over there. I'm not in the area anymore, but I go back there to shop once & awhile. Thanks for the tip! Love the old-school chewy bagels - and hoping when I *finally* get around to trying my hand at baking, I am successful at replicating that chewiness.

                                      2. This week is Passover, so you won't find kosher bagels anywhere.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: peregrine

                                          Thanks for mentioning this! I might have planned an expedition to Chelsea just for the bagels, not thinking about Passover - would have been VERY disappointed, lol!

                                        2. Abraham's in the 'Port I also happen to like. Boiled and baked just like the real deal.

                                          Abraham's Bagels and Pizza
                                          11 Liberty St, Newburyport, MA

                                          1. I like Bagel Rising in Allston.

                                            Bagel Rising
                                            1243 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02134

                                              1. As much as I love a poppyseed bagel with lox, cucumber, tomato, red onion, and cream cheese, growing up in Boston I was just never much of a bagel conossieur and while I heard friends from NYC complain about the quality of bagels here none of them could ever explain to me what was so bad about them.

                                                What is the perfect bagel to you and what makes it perfect? Is there a difference between NYC & Montreal bagels? Do toppings/cream cheese come into play?

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Klunco

                                                  I don't know about Montreal bagels, but what I like in a ny bagel is a good crust (boiled?) on the outside, good dense yeasty chewy interior, there should be enough turnover that at least one type is still warm, but they should be good warm, cold and even a day later. I find bruegers to be too light. and fluffy.

                                                  1. re: lc02139

                                                    That's my definition of a good bagel, too. I've had Montreal bagels (didn't have them there - was gifted a few bags). I enjoyed them but only because I think of them as something different than my beloved bagel - sweeter because they don't use salt in the recipe. Same w/the stuff I used to buy at my (former-I moved) local Russian grocery store. May have been bialyls. Not sure, as the label was Russian. Loved them as a different treat, but they still didn't fill my yet-to-be-satisfied bagel craving.

                                                    After the holidays I am SO working on making my own. Hey, if I'm successful, you're all invited. ;-] (haha - imagining my teeny apt filled w/bagel discerning chowhounds, lol)

                                                    1. re: threedogs

                                                      If my 15 YO neighbor can make them, you can too! http://www.fireandflour.com/food-blog... Hers are fabulous.

                                                2. Cafe Fresh Bagel in Dedham (896 Highland Ave) is the best we've found anywhere near Roslindale. Certainly respectable -- they do enough business that there are usually several varieties that are still warm from the oven.

                                                  Cafe Fresh Bagel
                                                  896 Highland Ave, Needham, MA 02494

                                                  1. Hmm I wonder if I'll get flamed if I say I really enjoy a bagel fresh out of the oven at Brueggers. You definitely have to eat it within an hour of it being made, otherwise they end up being really tough and chewy, and if the timing is right, I think they are pretty good.

                                                    Also agree that Katz in Chelsea makes a good bagel, as does Rosenfeld's in Newton. But in Boston proper, I head to Brueggers and take my chances.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: twentyoystahs

                                                      i always use breuggers as my back up if i can't get to rosenfelds. the bagels are smaller than at the other chains or local bakeries, and when fresh have a good crust to interior ratio (not too puffy). They are boiled and baked as they should be. Not the perfect bagel but an acceptable bagel.

                                                      1. re: teezeetoo

                                                        Personally I have really come around on Breuggers. I think they make a good, to excellent product, as good as any of the other's mentioned in this thread.

                                                        Katz, and Rosenfeld's are also excellent. I feel that Kupel's is not as good as it was.

                                                      2. re: twentyoystahs

                                                        You're good, you're good. Just don't start talking up Lender's and everything will be okay.

                                                      3. Rosenfeld & Katz (the latter being more traditionally (smaller) sized).

                                                        Good bagels: must be boiled, must have a dense crumb by use of malt instead of other sugars that encourage too much airiness, should not be too big, and should have traditional flavorings (egg, seeds, onion/garlic, salt; nothing sweet). They should being staling quickly (not as fast as a proper hard roll, but still within a half a day). They should feel like lead on your teeth and in your stomach.

                                                        Most people actually don't like really good bagels. Hence the dominance of bread with holes that imitate them. The NY bagel world has been in decline for the past generation, with lots of large, mediocre bagels driving out the better quality items. The imitations are cheaper to make and more appealing to more people for differing reasons.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                          Karl, I agree wholeheartedly on all points you mentioned. Which is why I'm really going to attempt making (good - hopefully) ones.

                                                          I do hope to try both Rosenfeld & Katz - I was in Chelsea yesterday, but, of course, I'm sure they were closed. At any rate, I was (am) in no shape to even add one more (even a short) stop. Have too much pain in my knee right now, and my expedition to Restaurant Depot took all I had! (but it was oh-so worth it).

                                                        2. Life's a Bagel, 29 Washington St. in Canton. A hole in the wall in a Cobbs Corner ( Canton, Sharon, Stoughton line ) strip mall. Basically just bagels, cream cheeses and coffee, take out only, cash only, fresh hot bagels and fast moving lines out the door on weekends.