"Ess" Them by the Dozen

A trip to NYC wouldn't be complete without a true New York bagel. Much like the great debate on pizza, there is much discussion as to what makes a good bagel. My favorite (and fortunately my friend's favorite too) is Ess-a-bagel. So, we decided to make a stop there on the way to the Yankees game...now that is my kind of Saturday!

"Ess" in Yiddish means "eat," and you certainly won't find me arguing with that glorious concept: eat-a-bagel. Ess-a-bagel makes all of its bagels on the premises in both locations. This ensures that no matter what time you go, there will always be fresh bagels available. Sometimes, they are so fresh that they are almost too hot to handle when you sit down to eat them. This is the reason that toasting is looked so down upon by the employees. I couldn't agree more. Why ruin perfection?! They are soft and chewy in the inside and nice and crunchy on the outside.

Everything at Ess-a-bagel is in excess. The bagels are massive and they are overflowing with toppings, no matter if it's a lot of schmear, lox, or tuna salad. I ordered the whole wheat bagel with plain cream cheese, and my friend got a sesame bagel with butter. Both had so much that we ended up scraping some off. But they were still divine.

Aside from the dozen varieties of bagel flavors, there are also dozens of schmear flavors ranging from veggie to scallion tofu to (and I'm not even joking with this) Oreo. There are dozens of "appetizing" - i.e. tuna salad, egg salad, whitefish salad, etc. and dozens of other goodies like pastries and knishes. You get the idea. Everything I've ever ordered there has been delicious, with one exception...the egg sandwiches. Because they don't have a griddle, they make their "eggs" in the microwave. If you're dying for an egg & cheese that badly, bypass Ess-a and head to your local bodega.

Ess-a-bagel seems quintessentially "New York" to me, and that's part of its appeal. Its wood-paneled walls and decor haven't been touched in decades. There are sesame and poppy seeds all over the floor, but rather than being dirty, it somehow gives the place more character.

For some added amusement, watch for the crotchety employees to speak a few words of Japanese to the hoards of tourists who found Ess-a-bagel in a guide book. And then watch the tourists' reaction...priceless.

831 3rd Avenue
b/t 50th & 51st Street
Menu Pages listing


Anonymous said…
Oreo spread?!? did anyone in line get it?!
Ed said…
I am new to your blog and must say that it is great. With that said, I think you are giving Ess too much credit. I am sure their whole weat, plain and pumpernickel bagles are great, but their everything bagel (As well as all the other "topping" bagles) only have the topping on one side, so it does not give you the opportunity to eat the bagel as anything but a sandwich. It is anot a huge deal, but certainly is a flaw with their bagles