OK, you’ve got us, New York. Boston isn’t one to admit they’re second best at much of anything, but when it comes to bagels, you are far superior. In fact, there might be some (me) who say that our bagels, for the most part, are just plain bad. Some blame the water, some blame the method, some would just rather complain than fix the problem.
But that's changing. In recent years, some bakers have taken it upon themselves to make Boston a better place for bagels. Even if it means waking up at the crack of dawn and waiting in line, it's worth getting your hands on one from these indie operations’ limited runs.
Grown out of the CommonWealth Kitchen (formerly CropCircle) foodie incubator space in Jamaica Plain, Adam Hirsch’s extra beloved bagels have yet to find a permanent home. The puffy, perfect crackly salt-coated rounds are fine just as is, or with a smear of Sriracha cream cheese, but you’ll find the lines long and hungry for their overstuffed breakfast sandwiches during weekend pop-ups at Egleston Farmer’s Market at the Sam Adams Brewery. Think: Cara Cara oranges, avocado, red onion, capers and cream cheese on a sesame seed bagel. Plus, bagel ball soup, which is affirmatively matzo ball soup but with bagels.Egleston Farmers Market on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 31 Germania St, Boston
As the name implies, James Grimes and Sam Harden’s Somerville startup is determined to give Boston a bagel they can be proud of. They warmly welcome the term “New York-style” and are often found popping up at area eats like Coppa Enoteca and Night Shift Brewery. Flavors are kept simple and classic (cinnamon raisin, poppy, everything) and can be schmeared with the addictive housemade cajun cream cheese or brown sugar-thyme butter that keep us coming back for more. Check their Facebook for pop-up dates and information
Mary Ting Hyatt could be called the catalyst of the “Be better, Boston” bagel movement. Her operation started small, selling limited batches at Cutty’s in Brookline in 2013, and since expanding to her own space in Porter Square where she crafts her five-ingredient bagels to perfection. The flavors remain simple — among them seeded wheat, pretzel and sea salt — though weekend risers will be treated to the beloved chewy Cheddar Garlic and an early morning (8-10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday) cash-only baker's dozen for $25. Mustard butter, hot smoked salmon and honey rosemary cream cheese sweeten the deal.1796 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 857-285-6103, bagelsaurus.com
This Wayland-based operation was recently seen at The Street at Chestnut Hillpop-up spaceaccompanying a 15-foot sculpture of a stack of bagels by artist Hanna Liden. The Street has sadly since moved on (making way for Kane’s Donuts), but the decades-in-the-making bagels from OMG! can be found at select grocers and farmer’s markets across the state.
The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Company
Its name couldn’t be more literal, as this Framingham branch of the Florida-founded bagel chain pumps in PH-balanced water like the actual water found in Brooklyn. They even sell it bottled. We haven't tried their bagels or their Brooklyn bottled water, but we give them an A+ for effort.341 Cochituate Rd, Framingham, 508-875-0007
Katz Bagel Bakery
This Chelsea standby claims to be the original "home of the pizza bagel," likely much to the dismay of bagel bakeries in New York. They also make the fairly aggressive claim that their bagels "conquered China," in reference to a former apprentice who opened a successful bagel shop in Beijing using Katz's techniques. 139 Park St, Chelsea, 617-884-9738
A multi-decade old bagel-ry in Newton sells neighborhood favorites like caraway and egg poppy seed(!) alongside lox and challah. Guanrateed to make you the most popular houseguest of the suburbs.1280 Centre St, Newton, 617-527-8080