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Nov 4, 2013 11:53 AM

How to place my order like a local at Ess-A-Bagel?

Every year for about the past six years, I make a trip to Ess-A-Bagel as part of my annual trip to NYC. I eat a bagel there and get bagels to take on the plane home. I know that there is a separate line for the to-go bagels. But how can I walk up and order my bagel (I am a purist, I just want a plain bagel, cream cheese, not toasted) and coffee and look/sound like I know what I'm doing? Do locals say "schmear"?

One employee in particular named Monte has good-naturedly given me a hard time more than once (ordering bottled water: "You want that wet?"). Please help me sound like I know what I'm doing when I place my order!

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  1. the key to sounding local is to refer to everyone else as "yewz guyz" i.e. "Can yewz guyz make me a regula wit a schmear and gimme anodda dozen to go"

    Or don't sweat it... and break out a little, get an everything with lox spread.. locals don't order plain.

    And Ess a in midtown is quite accustomed to the tourist trade and likes your $$ just fine so take the ribbing and be your hayseed self.

    1. the two keys to ordering (anything) like a NYer are to make endless specific request to differentiate it (a bagel example would be asking for your everything bagel "scooped out" - that is with some of the innards removed - toasted, "but lightly" with cream cheese "not too much" and bacon "extra crispy"). the second key is taking enough paper napkins to supply a medium sized developing nation for a year even though the item you are eating will be consumed within four bites.

      in all seriousness, though, one local vs tourist shibboleth ive discovered is that NYers love the use of the term "regular" to describe what others might call plain. its not a cheese slice, or a plain slice, its a regular slice. its not a plain bagel, its a regular bagel, with regular cream cheese.

      3 Replies
      1. re: tex.s.toast

        My god you've just totally described my husband with that napkin thing! Thanks for the laugh.

        The exception to the "regular" rule would be at a coffee cart where regular usually denotes cream and sugar. Not that anybody on this board buys that type of coffee anymore. :-)

        And I totally agree with the "endless specifications". We NYers just like things the way we like 'em! I prefer my everything bagel lightly toasted buttered on only one half.

        Enjoy your bagels!

        1. re: tex.s.toast

          You are making me hungry. I am having toasted bagel with cream cheese for breakfast tomorrow.

          1. re: tex.s.toast

            Ha!! You are sooooo right! (No, not that one, the bagel next to it!) hyper specificity is key.

            1. These comments are silly. Don't try to talk like you're in some cliche 1940s film. Just think about how a bagel sandwich is made, the steps the person behind the counter is taking, and order logically.

              Have your order ready when you're up and say: "Plain, untoasted with plain cream cheese, for here/or 'to go'"

              That's it.

              8 Replies
              1. re: thegforceny

                FAIL - if youre not taking it "to-go" you are having it "to-stay" another NY shibboleth that sounded weird at first and ive now gotten used to (still refusing to abide standing "on-line" unless im using my internet enabled smart phone)

                1. re: tex.s.toast

                  If you're not on line, how do you say it? (Not a smart ass, just a native NYer.)

                  1. re: LNG212

                    The rest of us are "in line" :)

                    1. re: Hobbert

                      Huh okay. I'll have to pay attention for that next time I'm out of town. Thanks.

                  2. re: tex.s.toast

                    I bet if OP says "to stay" or "for here", he'll be fine. There will be no great misunderstanding.

                    1. re: kurtt

                      A bagel between two bagels.

                      (Rolls eyes)

                    2. re: thegforceny

                      So wait, we don't all sound like James Cagney??? Thanks for pointing that out...

                        1. re: debinqueens

                          and yet as a not-from-here type, the acceptance/popularity of green bagels on st patricks day seem very odd.

                          1. re: tex.s.toast

                            green bagels are acceptable when mold is involved. if not, only mcdonald's shamrock bagels with corned beef cream cheese will do.