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May 8, 2013 04:10 PM

Bagels and lox on the Upper West Side: Zabars, Absolute Bagel, and Barney Greengrass

I was in New York over the weekend, and stayed on the UWS. For breakfast on three of the days, I ate bagels and lox and cream cheese.

Back in the old days, my normal routine was to buy nova from Zabar's, cream cheese from Zabar's (their old version included sour cream, so it was a bit airy and rich), and bagels from H&H. Now that there's no more H&H, I had to change plans.

Day 1: Bought nova at Zabar's (same as ever), bought cream cheese at Zabar's (no longer contains sour cream. when did this change?). Bought bagels at Absolute Bagels on Broadway @ 108th. We ate all of this at home, so we lightly toasted the bagels. I thought they were good, but nothing too special. If anything, I found them a little bit dry.

Day 2: Bought bagels from Zabar's, and used the same cream cheese and nova that I already had. I found these slightly worse than Absolute Bagels, but not by a lot. They were quite similar. They were also a bit dry. The everything bagel had a slightly off taste, like the sesame seeds or poppy seeds had been slightly burned? I tasted this off-taste before I did any toasting myself.

Day 3: Went to Barney Greengrass, and ordered an onion bagel w/ nova and cream cheese. I had it toasted. Lox was good, tasted about the same as what I got at Zabar's. Cream cheese was about on par too. Bagel was probably my wasn't dry, was chewy, and tasted fresh.

Overall, I would say that all three of these options were pretty good, and to be honest, if you gave me a blind taste-test of all three, I might not be able to tell the difference between the bagels. I do miss H&H a bit, since I liked the sweetness and almost-cakiness of the bagels. I also think that the bagels I tried at these three places aren't as good as bagels I've eaten in Great Neck, LI (not sure where those were from, though). I imagine there might be even better places elsewhere in Manhattan, and certainly elsewhere in the other Boroughs.

Don't know when my next visit will be, but would love any advice about bagels and lox in the UWS for the future!

Photo of the table w/ is from Day #1, and photo of the bagel and lox sandwich is from Barney Greengrass on Day #3

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  1. Try getting mini-bagels at Absolute. I found their regular-sized bagels ordinary but the mini-bagels were special. This was 2-3 years ago.

    1. Where do Zabar's and Barney's get their bagels? They don't make their own.
      My favorite all time bagel is from Ess-A-Bagel on the East side.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Motosport

        My impression was that Zabar's makes their own bagels....they definitely advertise them that way. Not sure about Barney's though.

      2. You hit all the best places on the UWS for bagels and lox. Barney Greengrass lox or, even better, nova and sturgeon is a Saturday indulgence without parallel. Tal is another place to check out on the UWS, but if you want the kind of bagel that satisfies your H&H craving, you're better off traveling to Ess-a-Bagel.

        7 Replies
        1. re: JungMann

          Tal is my #2 choice but I don't think they are on the UWS!!

          1. re: Motosport

            2446 Broadway
            (between 90th St & 91st St)

            I tell ya, that google is something else! ; )

            1. re: thegforceny

              Huh? The Tal website only had Yorkville and 1st Ave!! So glad those west siders can get a great bagel without having to find their passports.

              1. re: Motosport

                This one is on the west side and has been for 20 years at least.

                Maybe they are not related:


                1. re: thegforceny

                  Maybe that's it. One web site shows two E Side locations and the other only shows the Broadway location.

              2. re: thegforceny

                Thank god you're around to always google for the rest of us

                1. re: MVNYC

                  I'm just glad I'm good for something. :D

          2. Since H&H departed to the great bakery in the sky, I have been getting mine at Fairway. On a Sat/Sun morning they are often still warm. Ben's natural cream cheese and nova from there too. Put that up against Zabar's any day. Barney Greengrass has better fish, but it's a long ass trek from the 70's where I live...

            1. I recommend the smoked fish, cream cheese and even the bagels from Murray's Sturgeon on Broadway between 89th and 90th (on the west side of Broadway). They get their bagels from H&H on the UES and they are good. The smoked fish is simply delicious.

              5 Replies
              1. re: gdonnersc1

                H&H is gone!! They forgot to pay massive amounts of taxes. Oy!!

                1. re: Motosport

                  That is the H&H that was on the West Side. There is an H&H Midtown Bagels East that was not related and is not closed. That is where Murray's gets their bagels from and they are good

                  1. re: gdonnersc1

                    The O.P. was asking about the UWS.

                    1. re: Motosport

                      What I was trying to say is that at Murray's, which is on the UWS, they sell bagels that they get from H&H (which is on the UES). So they are sold on the UWS and they are good.