It cracks me up that there are “right ways” to eat certain food. Pizza, of course, must be folded. Pastrami sandwiches should never have mayonnaise. And bagels, I’ve now learned should not be toasted.

Before I did the research and started tasting these bagels, I would always order my bagels toasted with a little bit of butter. Not anymore. In order to get the true sense of the quality of a bagel, it must be untoasted to retain freshness and have a schmear of cream cheese. So I’ll play along in the interest of authenticity.

Turns out Murray’s Bagels wouldn’t even toast my bagel if I asked. That sort of elitist and apathetic customer service was the only thing that turned me off on my visit to Murray’s. I didn’t want mine toasted so that didn’t pose a problem, but I stood at the front of the line for a few minutes before I was even acknowledged. And the cafe was bustling, but most everybody was already sitting down with their order. I couldn’t figure out what these people were doing behind the counter. Except, of course not toasting bagels.

When I sat down with my beautiful bagel, I noticed a smell of fresh paint. I’m not sure if I was about to have a stroke or something (for the record, I didn’t) and when I took a closer whiff of my specimen, it only reeked of fresh dough and cream cheese. The paint smell went away rather quickly, but like an addicted huffer I began to inhale this bagel. It was a wonderful, addicting bagel. My plan generally is not to finish each bagel, but this one was difficult to resist. From the shiny doughy pretzel-like top to the fresh cream cheese filling to the soft warm innards, this bagel was a champ.

The bagel was firm yet soft and the fluffy cream cheese was a million times better than I imagine white paint to taste. They did go a little heavy with the schmear, even though I had asked for just a little bit. The slightly salty bread had more complex flavors than I was expecting with a hint of sweetness and savoriness. This was a plain bagel yet it tasted very faintly of garlic, onions, or raisins. Perhaps it lived a little too close to the other flavored bagels, but I’m going to contribute it to the mastery of the baking with subtle savory notes.

Turns out this shop isn’t terribly old – it was opened in 1996 by Adam Pomerantz, who named the place after his father. He’s had such success that there are now two Murray’s locations (the other is in Chelsea) and Adam also opened Leo’s Bagels in the Financial District. One of these days maybe Adam will lose his modesty and open up Adam’s Bagels.

Although most of the workers were younger kids or older Hispanics, somehow the recipe must be preserved from an old Jewish tradition because the bagels are everything you hope a New York version to be. I did notice an older Jewish-looking man wearing an apron sneak outside for a cigarette. He may not be Murray, but I’m guessing (and hoping) this guy handles the cooking procedures. And I’m sure he won’t toast the bagels either.

Does Murray’s Bagels have the best bagels in NY? The service was a little lacking, but the deliciously soft and tender bagels make up for it earning Adam (and Murray) a 9 out of 10.

MURRAY’S BAGELS
500 Avenue of the Americas (between West 13th and West 12th Street)
West Village
(212) 462-2830
242 Eighth Avenue (between 22nd and 23rd Street)
Chelsea
(646) 638-1336
murraysbagels.com
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Category: Bagels

About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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