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May 1, 2012 08:46 AM

Best Fresh Bagels In Boston?

Hosting a brunch on Thursday (bagels, lox, sable, whitefish, etc.) and have places to get everything except really good fresh bagels. I did a search and can't find any recent bagel threads, so thought I would ask CHs. I'm not looking for imported bagels from Montreal or New York (I don't toast my bagels so extreme freshness is a must). Downtown would be best, but I can travel to the near suburbs. Thanks in advance.

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  1. I will put in a plug for Katz bagels in Chelsea. You have to put up with a little "atmosphere," but the bagels are great, especially when fresh.

    What I would really like to know is your source for smoked fish. Please let us know.

    12 Replies
    1. re: weg

      agree on Katz. Very old school and a hoot. Limited selection if that matters to you. RE smoked fish, the Russian delis are my choice these days.

      1. re: gourmaniac

        I would like to know what you order for fish at the Russian shops. I bought some decent smoked chubs(?) at Bazaar a year or so ago, along with some pickled herring. The herring was bony, barely pickled, and immediately caused hair to grow on my chest. I have not been back, in part because I was not sure what to ask for.

        1. re: weg

          I like their cold smoked salmon (called chili salmon). You need to slice yourself, but i think its a good product and great value.

      2. re: weg

        For a big enough event I get my smoked fishes delivered from Russ & Daughters in NY. Expensive, but I think probably the best in the world (If I could only have one smoked fish for the rest of my life the private stock sturgeon would be it). It is expensive since they ship cold overnight. When I just want something around here, I go to the deli my parents always went to, Barry's Village Deli in Waban.

        1. re: ScotchandSirloin

          Would you adopt me and host my late-in-life bar mitzvah?

          1. re: ScotchandSirloin

            A bit off topic, but I've not had Russ&Daughters... how do they compare to Barney Greengrass (which I love!)? To Barry's in Waban (my local place too, but I think I already know that answer)?

            1. re: ScotchandSirloin

              both are terrific places, but i like Barney's better. It would be great to do a taste test.

                1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                  I may be wrong, but I believe Acme supplies the smoked fish sold at both places (and others in NY). There may still be differences in taste, though, based on how R&D and BG store the fish, how long it sits around, etc.

                  1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                    A taste test is definitely in order! Barry's is great for Boston but can't compare (it's also not much cheaper (Sable is $43/lb today). Comparing Barry's to R&D is like comparing Ruth's Chris (I was going to say Outback, but Barry's is in the upper eschelon, just way below) to Peter Lugar's. Haven't had Barney Greengrass, but Barney Greengrass vs. Russ & Daughters seems to be a Pat's vs. Gino's, Katz's vs. 2nd Ave-type argument, where people will argue forever and forcefully.

                    1. re: ScotchandSirloin

                      I always thought of Barney Greengrass as more a restaurant than an appetizing store, where Russ & Daughters is a classic appetizing store and not at all a restaurant (though you can order sandwiches to go). I like both but Russ & Daughters is simply one of the world's great places. You feel good just walking in, and they have so many varieties of lox.

                      1. re: hckybg

                        BG has a huge counter for purchasing fish and other items. Not a huge store like Zabar's, for sure, but certainly not just a restaurant either. Barry's in Waban is similar in that respect, but doesn't have the wide variety that BG has.

              1. I think Rosenfelds's in Newton have the best bagels in the area, although I don't think I ever tried Katz. I think it might be worth going to Newton or Chelsea, depending on which is easier for you to get to from where you area

                2 Replies
                1. re: Dave MP

                  Definitely agree on Rosenfeld's. And we prefer them over Kupel's.

                  1. re: Dave MP

                    i agree with rosenfelds, and they are excellent untoasted even for a couple days after. i think they taste better and last longer than kupels (which would be my 2nd choice).

                  2. While not as good as Rosenfeld's, Kupels in Brookline are still decent enough and might be closer to you. Personally, I would drive the extra 10 minutes further up Beacon Street to Rosenfelds, but I'm not sure how heavily distance weighs into your decision......or if Katz would be best (I *really* need to get over there and try those......).

                    1. I went to the Katz's website and it looks like they have Vienna Beef Hot Dogs. If I can get great bagels at a place which has the same name as my favorite deli for pastrami and which has the key ingredient for Chicago style hot dogs, the stars have truly alligned.

                      1. if you know from Barry's, you probably have been raised on Rosenfelds. this is about as good as it gets around these parts.

                        now if Katz's has hot dogs too, it would totally be worth the trip.

                        my personal take on the subject, "the fresher, the better", i am a huge fan of absolute bagels on the upper west side, but given the choice between bagels schlepped from 107th street and ones still warm from rosenfelds, well, newton wins.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: hyde

                          I think rosenfelds are good while they are still warm - but even the short 15 drive back to my house turn them into little round bricks.

                          1. re: LStaff

                            That's one sign of an excellent bagel: the best ones stale quickly. (Just like hard rolls and baguettes.) The idea of bagels that keep well is one that fights with excellence.

                            One thing the NY Times bagel mavens discovered when they did a big bagel tasting last year or the year before was that the half life of excellent bagels is short, and there is a big difference between just-out-of-the-oven and taking them to the office and eating them an hour or two later.

                            1. re: Karl S

                              Eh, I have had awesome bagels in NY/NJ area that lasted longer than the trip home with them. Not looking for them to last hours, just long enough to get home and eat them.

                              1. re: Karl S

                                putting them in a plastic bag first, and then transferring to a paper bag once they are cool makes a huge difference!

                                1. re: jamieeats

                                  Katz of Katz' Bagels suggests the opposite: he says to allow them to cool in the paper bag and then transfer to plastic.

                                  1. re: weg

                                    I would agree with paper then plastic. Letting them cool in plastic turns *any* bread product into fluffy wonderbread!

                                    1. re: Science Chick


                                      The compromise is the old fashioned bakery waxed paper bag that is not closed perfectly.

                                    2. re: weg

                                      YES you are right, sorry i was not thinking clearly when i posted that yesterday!

                                2. re: LStaff

                                  I completely agree. There is no better bagel in the area than a warm Rosenfelds bagel. But once it cools down, it hardens very quickly and rapidly and somewhat remarkably transforms into just another average bagel.

                                  1. re: Gordough

                                    I get Rosenfeld's most often, and adore Katz as well...

                                    HINT: An oven or toaster oven can restore your 'no longer warm' bagel to it's previous warmth. :)

                                    1. re: okra

                                      Its not about warmth, its about texture. They seem to get hard on the outside (instead of crispy) and the insides dry out and turn bready.

                                      IMO, you might as well buy a box of Ray's if you have to toast a bagel back to life.

                                      1. re: LStaff

                                        "and turn bready."

                                        No... Not gonna... too easy.... :)