I know, I know. BIG claim. But you know what? I’ve eaten my fair share of bagels at my fair share of bagel delis and I’m sticking to it! I decided to write an homage to my favorite bagel shop for several reasons:
1) I was walking through the Village the other day and passed this:
Hilarious and awe-inspiring. Who’s to tell you “no” when your dream is to give people the option of kung pao chicken with a bagel and schmear on the side? Frankly, I think the two go well together.
2) It’s the start of a new year. In 2013 I told myself I would write more, and get back to the roots of what I love most, which are travel and food. (A life coach said in a TED talk I watched recently that if I make promises to myself, I should tell others so that I’m held accountable for them. So here I am, blog world. Help me help you… er… help me?)
3) I’ve called New York City my home for more than a year now. Time really, truly, imperceptibly flies. It felt like such a short time ago I was writing about how I didn’t know where Greenpoint was. And an even shorter while ago, I learned that Brooklynites are really just Long Islanders, because Brooklyn is the western side of Long Island! I mean, I had known that, but I hadn’t really ever pictured it in my mind. Anyways I digress. New Yorkers take pride in knowing where to get a good bagel and I think I’ve lived here long enough to know what’s up.
One of the most iconic foods that come to mind when you think of New York City is the bagel. And honestly, who doesn’t love a good bagel? A warm, chewy bagel topped with savory cream cheese always hits the spot–whether it’s to gear up for a big, productive day, or to nurse a hangover on your couch. Plus, they’re fun to say (bay-gles!!), and they have a cute little shape, making them thus ten times more fun to eat than a regular roll of bread. Since “counting carbs” is not in my dictionary of life, I tend to think bagels and cream cheese are a great way to start off my day when I want a delicious, filling breakfast.
I discovered Hudson Bagels randomly because it was around the corner from the first place I interned after moving to New York. You’d think that in all the time since then, and having moved from the East Village to the Upper West Side, I’d have found a bagel shop to rival this humble little establishment in the West Village. But no.
Hudson Bagels, my beloved and unknown bagel spot–my first bagel love in New York–is still my favorite. They consistently serve fresh, made-on-the-premises bagels, and are never stingy with the cream cheese. The whole wheat everything bagel with veggie cream cheese (or scallion, but only on days I really don’t need to talk to anyone within three feet of me) is my go-to. I haven’t tried all the flavors, but I imagine all their bagels have the same great consistency: slightly crispy outside around a dense, chewy inside. For those who like bagels to be more bready and soft (pshh…), these might not be the bagels for you (also, dare I say, you don’t really know a good bagel). For everyone else, I challenge you to try it and tell me where I can get a better bagel in the city.
But Hudson Bagels doesn’t hold a special place in my heart just because of the bagels. The two guys who work there, at least the two that I see most often, Mario and Ibrahim, are wonderful and friendly and–I’m a real sucker for this–they knew my name after only a few visits. Recently, when I walked in after probably six months of not getting the chance to stop by, Mario says without missing a beat, “Hey Karen.” (!!!!!!!!!) So awesome! Hudson Bagels is like my Cheers. This is New York City we’re talking about, the largest city in the country, and probably the city with the most bagel delis per square mile in the whole world [totally made up fact by me] and I have a bagel place where everybody knows my name! Anyway, the owner and employees are Egyptian, thus making their bagel-making skillz all the more impressive, because, to my knowledge, the Egyptians are not known for their bagels… yet. I’m always received with a warm greeting and cheeriness, and they even let me go behind the scenes to take a couple pictures:
As if adorable Egyptians were not enough to make you fall in love with this place, here’s the real kicker: They make some of the best chocolate chip cookies ever. My respect and adoration for these cookies is multifold: a) They’re always chewy; b) they have just the right amount of chocolate chips and don’t taste like a glorified wad of butter and chocolate (ahem, Levain Bakery and Jacques Torres cookies–I’m not hatin’, I’m just sayin’); c) because of aforementioned reason b), and because of their perfectly-portioned size, you don’t feel too gluttonous treating yourself to an afternoon snack of cookies; and d) they’re super cheap at just two for $1! Since Mario and Ibrahim know the value of customer loyalty (and/or they can see the gleam in my eye when I see that they have fresh cookies out), they sometimes throw in an extra cookie for free–because obviously two cookies simply isn’t enough empty calories for one girl.
So there you have it. Modest, unassuming Hudson Bagels is my pick for best bagel deli in New York. I hesitated only briefly before posting this for fear that my Hudson Bagels secret would no longer be mine–like a “hidden gem” restaurant descended upon by avid Yelpers. But they serve the best bagel I’ve had in New York, a near-perfect chocolate chip cookie, and always prepare them with a smile and great service. I’ve got to pay it forward to them and to other hungry New Yorkers looking for their bagel fix. Besides, I’m not deluding myself that that many people will really follow my advice, right? So I’m happy to share the wealth to you few and faithful blog followers!
But please chime in! Where do you think deserves the title of New York’s best bagel? Do you have a go-to spot in your neighborhood for when you wake up on weekend mornings with a hankering for a bagel? Do you have a favorite spot in all of New York City that rivals mine? Leave a comment!
502 Hudson Street (between 10th St. and Christopher St.)
New York, NY