Astoria Bagel Shop: Astoria, Queens

2812 Ditmars Blvd # 1
Astoria, NY 11105
(718)-728-5169
*cash only

On my first morning of Summer vacation, I knew I wanted a nice crispy bagel from someplace new. I know there are many low-key bagel shop gems in Astoria outside of the big name spots like Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee (which can have a line out the door, and honestly, I wouldn’t name them the best), so I looked around online and landed on Astoria Bagel Shop. (Google says Astoria Bagel Inc. but whatever.) I knew this place would be good given that it has that Mom and Pop shop feel, and as my theory goes, there is NOTHING better than that hole-in-the-wall, tiny and simple bagel spot. I was right. This is it, guys. This. Is. IT.

astoria bagel shop
Ditmars Blvd.

Setting: Like I said, this is one of those tiny bagel shops. No chandeliers, no wooden benches. This is a bagel shop that makes good bagels, and that’s that. The small dining area that fits several tables and chairs is relatively clean. No garbage left on tables, no coffee rings, which is always always a plus. The place is pretty dated, old paint on the walls, but I don’t think that should really divert someone from coming here. One thing I really liked is that on this sunny Summer day, the front was completely open to let in the sunshine and warm air. If you’re coming in for a quick bite and aren’t picky about needing a bougie ambiance, then this will comfortably do!

Bagels: Hands down, the best bagels I have had thus far in Astoria. Clearly water boiled, nice crispy shells on the outside and soft on the inside. One thing I love is that they have egg everything bagels! This has been a hard find since moving to NYC (as I have seen, anyway). I also like, which I may have mentioned before, that the bagel is not overly done in seasoning. Overall, they offer your basic batch of deliciously crispy bagels!

astoria bagels
fresh bagels! new sweets! what’s better, man?

Cream cheese: I went with the lite vegetable cream cheese. I loooove the egg everything-veggie cream cheese combo. Nothing better than all those delicious flavors in one bite! The veggies are minced very fine, which I enjoy but others may differ, of course. They offer a range of your basics, including scallion, strawberry, lox spread, walnut raisin, as well as others including garlic and herb, sundried tomato, very berry, jalapeño, and BACON scallion. Mmmm. There are MANY mouth-watering choices to choose from for whatever your tastebuds desire.

astoria bagel
egg everything w/lite vegetable cream cheese
astoria bagel bottom
bagel guide 101: if the bottoms have these little boils and shine, it’s a legit bagel.

Pastries and sweets: As the picture above shows, they seem to come out with new pastries regularly. I would definitely return to try one of those chocolate croissants! In addition to those sweet pieces of heaven, they also have a variety of muffins wrapped and ready to go. They also offer pre-wrapped sweets such as Linden’s cookies, pound cake, etc.

Deli: It appears they are more renowned for their bagels; however, they do offer basic deli cold cut sandwiches, as well as salads including tuna, chicken, egg, lox, and shrimp, and others.

astoria bagel shop board
old-school dry erase board menu and sweets

Noteworthy: They open EARLY. According to their Yelp page, their hours are 4am-4pm. So if you need an early bagel order in the area, this is the spot to go to! I believe this is a cash-only establishment as well, which can be a negative in my book.

Overall, I may have found my new favorite Astoria spot! Bummer they don’t deliver and are cash only – BUT, they’ve got the goods. Where there’s perfected water boiled bagels and bangin’ cream cheese, there’s me. It’s worth the few subway stops if you aren’t in the remote Ditmars area in Astoria, and it’s just a few blocks down from the train. Definitely give it a shot if you are in Astoria! This is ashley’s bagel blog approved, and a favorite!

Murray’s Bagels: Chelsea

242 8th Ave
New York, NY 10011
(646)-638-1335
murraysbagelschelsea.com

When you research the “best bagel spots in New York City,” there are a few that come up as the most predominant. So, a few weeks ago, I found myself at Murray’s Bagels, the Chelsea location off 8th. (Side note: Murray’s also has a location in Greenwich Village off Ave. of the Americas.)

According to their Facebook, Murray’s Bagels has been in business since 1994. Additionally, to add a touch of sentimental value, the name, Murray’s, comes from the owner’s father. The way the establishment in Chelsea came about was from owner, Matt Pomerantz, desiring to bring his heritage in Brooklyn to Manhattan – and voila – Murray’s Bagels was born! And we’re glad it happened.

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Bagels: I have to say, despite the rave reviews and reputation of Murray’s, I really didn’t expect all that much from their bagels. This is primarily based on the state of the bagel shop itself, which I will get into below. However, we were shocked! These bagels were perfectly cooked on the outside, water-boiled and crisp, while the inside were softer (but not too soft!). We both got everything bagels (I wanted an egg everything, but unfortunately they didn’t have), which was perrrrfect. I don’t like when everything bagels are overly seasoned, which can sometimes cause them to be sticky, or is just way too much for my palate. These everything were top notch! One important note: They do NOT toast their bagels. As their website says, “Why make a fresh bagel that’s crispy on the outside crispy on the inside?” #Truth. I only ever toast if I know a bagel is going to completely suck.

Cream cheese: Murray’s offers a pretty basic selection of cream cheeses, as well as some obscure ones such as jalapeno or sundried tomato (which, not sure if that would be obscure? Eh). They also include organic tofu cream cheese for the veggies out there! I went with the low fat scallion. I’ve honestly never had straight up scallion cream cheese, but this spot has turned me onto it! The cream cheese wasn’t too thick, and they also didn’t need to smother the bagel in ten tablespoons of cream cheese. I will say, when I first unwrapped the bagel and saw the simple amount, I was bummed. As New Yorkers, we’re so used to cream cheese being five layers. However, this place doesn’t, and they don’t have to. One other point about their scallion cream cheese is that they don’t include the big, crunchy chunks of scallion (should those bits even be IN cream cheese?!). Yes, we know, I hate crunchy cream cheese (doesn’t everyone?), so this one passes with an A+! My boyfriend got the lox cream cheese, which as similar to H&H, has the salmon diced up into the spread. Perfect.

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everything w/low fat scallion cream cheese
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everything w/lox spread


Pastries & other sweets:
Murray’s offers a variety of baked muffins, including corn, chocolate chip, blueberry, banana walnut, etc. Your basics. They also have a wide selection of other baked goods and snacks, including black and white cookies, large homemade cookies, blondies, gummy snacks and chips, etc. There were some pastries staring at me while checking out, but I resisted! They looked damn good, though…

Setting & Service: One downside, which caused me to be hesitant about how bombastic the bagels would be (which I was gladly proven wrong) was that, although it was around 7pm (they are open ’til 9), their shop was dirty. By dirty, I mean there were cups, plates, and napkins left on the tables from previous customers. There were no one in the shop except for the two workers. …Why then is the dining area a mess? What if we wanted to stay? That aside, the service was still pleasant and the food was good. However, I won’t be shy to say that the state of the shop did leave me wondering… Don’t you want your late-night customers to feel welcome and comfortable?

murraysdining
dining area w/leftover trash

Noteworthy: As many bagel spots do, they also offer deli sandwiches, including their own signature sandwiches as on their delivery menu. If you bite into one of these sandwiches and fall in love with them, make note that they cater (which, oh my god, includes a cheese board?!). Do you have family coming into the city and want to wow them with your New York deliciousness and make them jealous? Then bring them in!

So, there’s Murray’s Bagels! Litter in the dining area aside, this place was a hit! Would definitely be back, but I won’t necessarily call it a favorite just yet; however – ashley’s bagel blog approved!

murrayswall

 

Ess-a-Bagel: Midtown East

831 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10022
(212)-980-1010
ess-a-bagel.com

During my winter break, I decided to take a trip out this morning to Midtown to another bagel gem of New York City. Established in 1976 by Gene and Florence Wilpon, and brother Aaron Wenzelberg, this spot has gained recognition not only for their bagels, but for their spreads, pastries, sandwiches and salads as well. They are acclaimed for their catering services as well. After having a huge success at their original 1st ave location, including being voted the best bagels in the tri-state area after two years of opening, they established their 3rd ave Midtown location.

As I crossed over 3rd ave and approached the shop, there was a group of young 20-somethings discussing their first trip to NYC, and their excitement to be getting their hands and mouths on a legit bagel. This made me chuckle to myself until I walked in, greeted with a line to the door, the place filled with tourists, each adorned with their NYC maps. But hey, I won’t get too salty about that. More time and less shame in taking pictures of all they have to offer, and to take in the ambience of the place.

essceiling
fine bagel dining

Bagels: I’m a little bummed that they don’t make egg bagels. HOWEVER, that aside, their bagels have every right to be voted the best in the tri-state area. I went with a garlic bagel that I couldn’t hold off on biting into as I walked back to the train. That first bite left the chewy, tender bread melting in my mouth. “This is so good,” I immediately texted my boyfriend, taking another bite as I walked down to the 6. The bagel was sprinkled with garlic on top that gives it a nice crunch along with the firm outer shell of the bagel.

Cream cheese: To accompany my garlic bagel, I thought that the herb cream cheese would complete it perfectly, like yin and yang. And shit, was I right. I love seeing a bagel place that has a wide variety of cream cheeses to choose from, especially herb! The cheese is thick and creamy, more than a paste-like substance (if that makes any sense). I can’t wait to go back to try the many others, including chocolate chip and oreo. WHAT?!  Oh, and I took a peek at the veggie cream cheese through the mass of people, and it looked goooooooood, aka, not chunky. 😉

essbagel.png
garlic bagel w/herb cream cheese. nice and crispy.


Baked goods: They offer a ton of other items. I held myself back from getting anything else for personal reasons; however, everything looked amazing. When first walking in, there’s a long table decked with cookies and chocolate babka. WHY did I not get the babka at least?! They also have window filled with cakes and pies of all kinds:

essbaked.png
LOOK AT THIS DELICIOUSNESS!
esscookies
all of the cookies.

Setting & Service: It was difficult to get a full scope of the cleanliness of the place due to how crammed it was inside, but from what I could tell, it’s fine. Just packed. I will say, it’s confusing inside when busy, which is probably most of the time. You can jump to the back and skip the line if you just want a dozen bagels and cream cheese to-go, not sliced or toasted. There’s two registers on opposite sides of the store. What I found odd was that there’s a woman on a laptop behind the long table of baked goods, working on a laptop, surrounded by office supplies at a little table. She clearly works there, as she yells at everyone to stay on “the other side of the pillars.” Normally, I’d get that, but with people ordering at the counter and there only being so much space, can you blame people for being on your side of the pillar? Otherwise, the line will be entangled with those already ordering. Maybe her setup is for catering services? Maybe she’s a marketer? No idea, but it’s odd. An office would be a better option to give more room to customers. Also, why don’t we let customers get their own drinks? Theft? No space for a fridge available? I only say this, because it saves me from pissing off the already busy cashier from having to find my favorite Snapple, only to find that they’re out. I could have saved her the clearly held back sigh when I asked. I get it, girl. It’s annoying.

Noteworthy:
As mentioned, Ess-a-Bagel offers catering services, their menu listed on their website. What I REALLY love is that they ship their bagels NATIONWIDE via goldbelly! Perfect for those of us with family in crap-bagel states that beg us to ship bagels via USPS, because it’s no longer an issue! Ess-a-Bagel also serves deli sandwiches, salads, etc, and has a wide range of add-ons. And one last note: they’re open til 9pm M-F! Craving a bagel post-work in the Midtown area? Ess-a-bagel has you covered.

Overall, Ess-a-Bagel is ess-a-mazing, and I will be back to try their chocolate chip and vegetable cream cheese. I do think I will try to come back during off-peak times in the future. Officially ashley’s bagel approved and a favorite! Keep killing it!

Lots O Bagels: Astoria, Queens


Noteworthy:
For those of you that enjoy the simple things in life, they also offer fresh squeezed orange juice! Their menu also delivers deli sandwiches, Boars Head meats, paninis, and even cheeseburgers!

Lots O Bagels, thank you for being there in times of need when it is too cold to go out, and you always deliver in a timely manner with nothing ever forgotten, and coffee wrapped ever-so-safely. You are ashley’s bagel blog approved, and officially an Astoria favorite. Keep it real. ❤

Ashley’s favorites:

egg bagel w/plain cream cheese

two eggs and cheese on an egg bagel

peach snapple

apple turnover

H&H Midtown Bagels East: Upper East Side

1551 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10028
(212)-734-7441
hhmidtownbagelseast.com
*24 hrs

I am ashamed to say that I was unaware of H&H Bagels for a long time. For those of you also unaware of the history of this establishment, H&H was THE bagel establishment back in the day, selling bagels worldwide and producing 80,000 bagels per day. The original location, owned by Helman Toro and brother in-law, Hector Hernandez, was located on the Upper West Side. Unfortunately, H&H eventually filed for bankruptcy, and their UWS and Hells Kitchen location were closed in 2012. The remaining location on 2nd Ave in UES remains open, but under different owners. The great thing? This place is 24hrs! We stopped in after work on a Friday, greeted with happy smiles even at 6:30pm.

hhbagels
6:30pm – still so many to choose from!

Bagels: I decided on poppyseed. Overall, decent quality. Unfortunately, they took the initiative to toast my bagel without my consent, resulting in a cold toasted bagel that slightly hardened with an aftertaste by the time I got home all the way to Astoria. However, I couldn’t complain too much. It was still edible. My boyfriend decided on a toasted everything bagel – this is where the confusion must have come from. Can’t we ask? We’re two different people with two different tastes!

poppyveg
Poppy w/vegetable cream cheese
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Everything w/lox spread

Cream cheese: This is where they shine in my opinion. I got my lite vegetable cream cheese, and it was exquisite! Perfectly sized minced veggies so it doesn’t taste like you’re eating a garden on a bagel, but still bursting with flavor! Stephen got the lox cream cheese, which mid-chew he paused and said, “I can’t find anything wrong with this.” After a taste myself, I had to agree. Some people might prefer the cream cheese separate with the salmon placed on top, like a sandwich. We much prefer the opposite – chunks mixed in with the cream cheese, along with capers, allowing the flavors to absorb into the spread, and not as if you are eating a salmon sandwich.

HHcc
Dat cream cheese, tho.

Pastries: While I did not try any of their sweets, they do offer a range of muffins, as well as black and white cookies (mmm), tarts, DONUTS, a variety of cookies, etc.

Noteworthy: H&H also offers deli sandwiches, as well as salads (tuna, chicken, macaroni, etc.) And… THEY CATER – minimum party being 10 people, perfect for an office meeting or if your family is coming to town and you want to wow them with a traditional NYC bagel. You can even get a box of coffee that is not from your local Dunkin Donuts, which would be adorned by rolls, not bagels. 😉

Overall, H&H is ashleysbagelblog approved. How could it not with its profound history? We salute you, brothers!

Oh, and be sure to grab a t-shirt on your way out. Support your local business!

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swag.

 

Bagels on the Ave: Astoria, Queens

3315 30th Ave
Astoria,NY 11103
(718) 885-4154
bagelsontheaveny.com

Bagels on the Ave was one of the first bagel spots we checked out upon moving to Astoria. I remember thinking, “YES, ALL of the bagels will be delicious! We’re in the city, and there can’t possibly be any disappointments!” Well, I kind of regret that statement (SORRY NYC!), as my favorite bagel joints tend to be the hole-in-the-wall spots of Long Island. I really did like this spot in the beginning, but as we would continue to order from here, I just kept getting more bummed out about them. I would root for it, as it was so close, but even my less-picky boyfriend didn’t want to continue ordering from here anymore.

Anywho, here is my low-down on this spot:

Bagels: Honestly, they taste a bit stale. I used to argue it as a good thing: OH, they’re slightly crispy/hard on the outside, and somewhat softer on the inside! But, no. They just taste slightly stale. At least they’re not doughy?

Cream cheese: On the bright side, their cream cheese is actually pretty good. On this particular occasion, I decided to try something outside of my typical veggie cream cheese: bacon and scallion! Sounds gourmet, right?  While nothing with bacon can be truly bad, upon opening my bagel, this particular cream cheese was a bit lackluster. Where are the scallions???

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Egg bagel w/bacon & scallion cream cheese

Pastries:  We decided to split a blueberry muffin. From the outside, the muffin looked pretty legit. The top looked like a crumb cake adorned with blueberries, and we were excited to split it open, toast it, and butter it up. Well…

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YES!
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Oh…

Clearly, the muffin left something to be desire. Sigh.

Overall, Bagels on the Ave is not the WORST bagel joint in the Astoria area. However, there are better options out there nearby (unfortunately, usually with lines to the door. I’m looking at you Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee co.). If there’s no other options at the time, I would swing by this place. Just don’t have super high expectations. But personally, I would give this a NOT!

 

 

Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company: Astoria, Queens

3614 30th Ave
Astoria, NY
(718) 777-1121
bkbagel.com

Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company have three locations: two in Astoria, and one in Chelsea. This review is based on the Astoria 30th Ave location. This place is always bumping – I have yet to come in one morning where the line isn’t to the door. Always a good sign, right? 😉

Bagels: So one thing Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee pride themselves on is water boiling their bagels. Can we all say, “YASSS”? As one can tell by the pictures, their bagels have that nice crispy shell on the outside, while the insides are soft. Their bagels are also pretty huge – big and thick, as a good NY bagel should be. I ordered an egg bagel, and the man behind the counter asked if this small bagel was okay. I couldn’t help but laugh, considering even their “small” bagels are on the average bagel shop size. Honestly, the pictures don’t do justice for how fat their bagels are. I can only finish half every time! My boyfriend got a poppyseed bagel, to which he notes that their bagels have the most poppies compared to other shops we go to, which for him is a plus. The poppies cover the whole bagel, not just the top!

As for their cream cheese, their spreads can get on the chunky side. However, it is not the worst, and I sometimes ask them not to take from the top where the chunks are thrown on (which I know makes me look insane and picky). I just can’t understand why places garnish the tops of their spreads so heavily (e.g. veggie, scallion, etc.). One last note: this place is where to go if you’re into those fancy, obscure spreads; I noticed today they have spicy chipotle?!

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Egg bagel w/low fat veggie cream cheese
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Poppy seed bagel w/plain cream cheese

Beverages: Today I got my standard snapple. A lot of people love their coffee (hence the name), but I will not pretend I am some big coffee connoisseur and talk about different roasts. I will note, my boyfriend can be picky with his coffee (not TOO much cream or feel wrath), and this place manages to get the proportions perfectly. Another plus, they have FRESH SQUEEZED ORANGE JUICE!

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Chocolate chip muffin

Sweets: I went for the chocolate chip muffin, and I am glad I did! I love a place that makes a muffin in which the toppings are not just on the top of the muffin, but are also baked into the stump. Their muffins also have that nice crispy shell on top, while the insides are soft and in this case, gooey. Mmm mufffiiinnn.

Some other important notes: They deliver, though there is a minimum, AND they cater! They also offer a ton of other items, such as fresh made omelettes, soups, sandwiches, pasta salad, etc. Additionally, they have late hours, staying open ’til 6:30 (hours vary by location). This place definitely makes the favorite! list – there’s no skimping here. 🙂

Ashley’s favorites:

egg bagel w/low fat veggie cream cheese
fresh orange juice
chocolate chip muffin