They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Often I eat something only because I have pills to take and I want them to stay down. How appetizing does that sound?
But if I am going to eat breakfast, a meal that I haven’t cooked but one that I would enjoy, and be able to eat on the go, I have pretty basic needs.
As a life long Brooklynite the first food that comes to mind is bagels.
Bagels are the quintessential Brooklyn/New York breakfast. Well, bagels and coffee. This duo happens to be one of my personal favorites, much better than peanut butter and jelly.
Now this isn’t my first blog about bagels. I have previously reviewed Bagel Hole, The Bagel Store, and Black Seed Bagels.
The first two are in Brooklyn while that last shop is mostly located in Manhattan, although I believe they just opened a new location here in my borough.
My preferred bagel order is either a garlic or everything bagel with either regular or scallion cream cheese. Although I am always enticed when I see creative cream cheese flavors, I alway revert back to my go to’s. I am afraid I will hate it something new and then end up hungry. A hungry version of me is one you don’t want to encounter. FYI - either is the frustrated version.
As for coffee I love a latte, hot or cold, it doesn’t really matter to me. If I am feeling extra I will get a vanilla or even a caramel latte. If I am just in it for the caffeine a regular coffee with milk and sugar gets the job done.
If for some odd reason I find myself not in the mood for a carbohydrate in bagel form, a nice danish or croissant is my jam. I have also been known to eat a muffin or two but they are messy and usually not that great once you have eaten the top.
As a bagel connoisseur I know exactly what I am looking for. Shockingly enough it is harder to find than you may think. In Brooklyn you can pretty much throw a stone and you are going to hit either a bagel store or a pizzeria (my most favorite of all carbohydrates) so I know when I taste the real thing. I say taste because I have been duped more than once by the look of a bagel. But after one bite I know if I have chosen correctly.
So what exactly constitutes a “good bagel” you ask?
For me, and lets be serious because this is my blog my opinion is the one that reigns supreme, I want a crispy exterior with a fluffy but not overly doughy interior. It has to have the right combination of flavors and if your bagel doesn’t not have seasonings AKA garlic or what have you on BOTH sides of the bagel you are an automatic loser. In terms of cream cheese, I want my scallion version to have lots of scallions and onions. Despite whether I order cream cheese or occasionally even butter on my bagel I will be pissed off if I have to pull over to wipe a half of pound of it off. Balance is everything.
As for my coffee it better not be bitter but I do like it strong. I also hate when I have to order it and then move over and fight to fill the cup up myself. I feel that the most important meal of the day should be greeted with full service.
See; I have reasonable expectations.
These are the fourteen places I have had breakfast over the last few months.
Keep in mind for the purposes of this blog I am not going into detail about their backstories. This is a review of my experiences.
Also they appear in alphabetical order, not the order I visited.
Let’s see how they held up.
- Bagel Pub
The best part of my visit here was how cute this place was. It literally is designed to look like a pub serving up a variety of foods such as salads, wraps, etc. Of course they also make bagels and happen to serve the largest variety of cream cheese choices I have ever seen. The bagel was just okay, so was the latte, but it was worth the experience.
- Bagel World
These bagels were the third worst on my list (see additional descriptions below). I got my bagel toasted and I think that was a mistake. Every time I order a bagel and someone behind the counter asks me if I want it toasted, I panic. I never know what the right answer is. The truth is that I want it hot because its fresh and crispy because they did it right, not because it was toasted. Coffee wasn’t memorable.
- Baked in Brooklyn
I first stumbled upon this places years ago when visiting Greenwood Cemetery which is located across the street. Back then it was only a factory but now there is a shop right in front. They makes countless kinds of bread, cupcakes, pastries, just about anything you can think of that is baked. I sort of lost my mind here for a moment because next thing I knew I was leaving with a shopping bag. To be thorough I got a bagel, coffee, croissant, and the pita chips they make on site. Those chips are sold in grocery stores in Brooklyn (maybe elsewhere too) so I knew I had to try them. Last but certainly not least was a six pack of hot cross buns. The croissant was disappointing, the pita chips tasted like pita chips, and the bagel was just okay. My coffee served its purpose AKA washing down the bagel. Those buns however, were truly remarkable. Whenever I want bread for a special occasion this is where I will be buying it.
- Bergen Bagels
I didn’t try the coffee here but I got an everything bagel with butter and a garlic with cream cheese. This place was the most confusing out of all. The everything bagel was not good at all. It had no bite to it (no pun intended) and oddly no flavor despite the everything seasoning. That being said, the garlic was great! It was crispy like I like it as well as soft. Go figure.
- Brownstone Bagels & Bread
These bagels were the second worst I had which was really confusing because I could smell them from down the block and it smelled SO good. But once again looks and apparently smells can be deceiving. The bagels were dry and didn’t seem fresh. Coffee was marginal.
- Crumbs and Coffee
This cafe offers a variety of lattes and a small assortment of baked goods. I got a regular hot latte and a cranberry muffin for a change of pace. The coffee was good but what was surprising was this muffin. It was moist and full of flavor. Cranberries have a tendency to be a bit tart but this muffin had a touch of sweet to it. It was also the perfect size and didn’t crumble when I broke it into pieces. Delicious!
- Hungry Ghost
This place appears on my current annual to do list and for good reason. Once again they are a latte hot spot and here I ordered an iced vanilla latte. It was amazing!!! I wasn’t hungry at the time of my visit but I loved that in the middle of the early afternoon there was a wide variety of pastries, both savory and sweet (a major plus), available. There was also a menu board with egg sandwiches and avocado toast you could order. I would definitely go back and try just about anything. Aside from the food and beverages, it was super cute inside. There were plenty of tables, a leather couch, and a cool wall of green leaved palms. Can you tell I loved it here?
- Mike Donuts
This predominantly coffee and pastry shop has been open for thirty years and I am not quite sure why. I visited here a few times and each time I didn’t love it. The coffee was bad no matter how much milk and sugar I added. I sort of liked the cheese danish I got here but there was only cheese in the middle and the outer layer was kind of dry. The donuts were a totally bust.
I went here because I liked the big bear logo on the side of the cafe. One again I was here for a latte (noticing a pattern yet) so that is what I ordered. I chose an iced caramel latte. There didn’t seem to be much of a food selection and on this day that was okay. I am still dreaming of this drink so I need a repeat visit ASAP.
10. Smith Street Bagels
These might be my favorite bagels of all time. Here they are thin but flavorful. Aside from the bagels which I could honestly go on and on about, I love this place! The staff is the friendliest I have come across, and they couldn’t offer more food choices if they tried. I went here more than once and was happy with my order every time. I even ended up trying the chicken Caesar salad wrap because as I was waiting for my bagel it looked so good. And it was. I also loved my egg whites on my bagel. They were seasoned without me having to actually ask for it to be cooked properly. Coffee was great as well, though I did have to pour it myself.
- Terrace Bagels
Of all the places on this list, this was by far the worst. The shop was very poorly laid out and the bagels were gross. I got a cinnamon raisin with walnut cream cheese and an everything with cream cheese, trying to be adventurous. Both weren’t great. The cinnamon raisin was so spicy it almost burned. The everything was so dry on the inside and there was way too much cream cheese on it. I ended up throwing out the regular coffee I had ordered after a few sips.
12. The Bagel Factory
The greatest part about my visit here was that it introduced me to Empanada Loca (blog coming this week), just because they are on the same block. The place is also super cute and also makes a variety of things. I like when I can get breakfast and lunch in the same place if I so choose to. The bagels here are good as are the egg and cheese wraps I’ve gotten. The coffee is constantly good too.
- The Bagel Market
These bagels and my experiences here are a very close second to number twelve. The bagels and coffee mirror them exactly. I have never had a bad bagel or cup of coffee here.
- Zee Bagels
I have been coming here for years and have had mixed experiences but more than not I enjoy what I order. I have had their sandwiches on a roll but my preference here is the garlic bagel with you guessed it: cream cheese. I love that their bagels always have a crunch to them and are really fresh. Their coffee is also really good and is actually the reason I started trying regular (not flavored) coffee when going on my bagel adventures. It is also the place closest to my house out of all the others on the list which grants it bonus points in my book.
You would think after all of this taste testing I would never want to eat another bagel again. Not so!
I love bagels so much there is even one on my annual to do list. The Bagel Nook is located in Freehold, New Jersey. The reason I want to go all that way for a bagel is simple: they make a Cool Ranch Doritos bagel!! Doritos are by far my favorite guilty pleasure and that combined with my love of bagels I don’t see any way this will not be my new favorite food. But there is only one way to find out. Hopefully I will be able to share my findings soon.
The only other bagel I need to try that I haven’t included on that list is one that was featured on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”. Chef Rocco DiSpirito said that Tal Bagels in NYC makes an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese that is to die for. Now that sounds like something right in my wheelhouse so I have to check that out as well.
Although this list isn’t all inclusive list I did my best to scour Brooklyn for the best bagels and breakfast on the go. I have given it the old college try. However, I am always looking for suggestions.
If you know a place, that is not on this list, that you think holds up to my strict standards I am all ears.
But please be mindful that if you are wrong my very strong opinions will be shown here.
So suggest at your own risk.
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