1. Ess-A-Bagel (21st St. & 1st Ave., 51st St. & 3rd Ave.)
Famous for being one of Anthony Bourdain's picks, Ess-A-Bagel just knocks it out of the bagel park. Service is super swift, the bagels are soft, chewy and fresh, and the spreads are amazingly rich, creamy and delicious. My favorite, from what I've had so far, is the apple cinnamon on whole wheat ($3.95), but I'm dying to try chocolate chip and berry berry spreads next.
Apple cinnamon on whole wheat everything because I messed up my order -_- ($3.95)
2. Brooklyn Bagel (24th St. & 8th Ave., among other locations)
Brooklyn Bagel is another great place to satisfy your bagel craving as they have a wide variety of spreads and bagels. One fun thing that they do is flavor of the week, in which they feature a special cream cheese every week, and I've seen some really cool, delicious-sounding ones such as lemon poppy seed, Nutella and Samoa (as in the Girl Scouts cookie).
Blueberry on coconut ($3.75)
(Look at that beautiful lavender color! I would love a pair of shoes in that shade.)
When I went, I got the coconut bagel with blueberry CC ($3.75), and both were awesome. The toasted coconut flakes on the bagel were crunchy and sweet, and the spread was packed with fresh blueberries. But, it places one rank below Ess-A because the bagel itself was a bit tougher, and the spread wasn't as creamy. Nonetheless, delicious.
3. David's Bagels (15th St. & 1st Ave.)*
Probably not as well known, but David's Bagels is surprisingly good. I had their whole wheat bagel with strawberry CC ($3.25), and the bagel was oh-so-soft and chewy. I'm not really a toasted-bagel person, so the consistency was perfect for me. The spread was decently creamy, but the flavor was kind of lacking. I personally don't like plain CC, so if I get a flavored one, I expect it to be screaming with whatever flavor it is, but the strawberry spread here was a little too tangy and plain, unfortunately.
*Forgot to snipe a pic both times I went... Sorry, readers, I have failed you as a blogger.
3. Murray's Bagel (13th St. & 6th Ave.)
Maple raisin walnut on whole wheat ($3.75)
Upon reflection, I couldn't decide which I liked better between David's and Murray's Bagels, so I'm gonna say it's a tie. Funnily enough, Murray's Bagels is just as good in my book for the exact opposite reasons as David's. While the maple raisin walnut CC here was spot-on — smooth, creamy, packed with raisins and maple-y goodness — the texture of the bagel was not as great. The bagel was definitely fresh, but kind of like Brooklyn Bagels', it was also tougher and a bit harder than I would've liked.
And then, the black sheep:
5. Tompkins Square Bagel (10th St. & Ave. A)
Read about why and how I was disappointed after my visit to Tompkins Square Bagel here.