Musings on New York Bagels

Knuckle Sag Bagel Sandwich from Boneshakers in Brooklyn, NY

Boneshakers NYC

Memories & Musings.

Every now and then I grab a bagel from a certain local bagel chain in town. The owner is actually from New York, though their boiled bagels aren’t quite channeling even half the perfection that belongs to true New York bagels.  Hailing from the fish shaped part of the Empire State myself, I’m admittedly a bagel snob.  I think this local chain has some of the most easily accessible, better quality bagels Portland has to offer (though the consistency wavers), and that nearly all the others in town are like rolls with holes.  Big ups to Sweetpea in Portland for offering a variety of flavored Tofutti along with their bagels.

The sight of a big brown bag with a dozen from Bagel Boss was a regular sight in my house growing up.  Sesame, Poppy and Cinnamon Raisin have long been my favorite varieties of these thick and chewy representatives of New York. It was normal to opt for a bagel with cream cheese for lunch in high school, even when you’d likely be eating one the next day for breakfast. Go, carbs, go! Same for college. While I was stunned by the difference of airier Finagle Bagels when I moved to Boston for college, I still have a small soft spot for them. Ironically, and adorably, my younger sister in New York still asks me to bring her a super cinnamon raisin back whenever I’m going between the cities, years later.

On my recent NYC vacation, I took home half a dozen from Bagels on the Square.  My sister works nearby and is often picking up a bagel there for lunch while we’re on the phone.  Photos of their selection are below – these are the kind of bagels I’m reminiscing about! The kind I’ll rave about for minutes!

I don’t have my sister fed ex me bagels or anything, and they certainly didn’t keep me in New York, but the memory, and reality, of true bagels, holds.  Thick and chewy circles of memories.

Great New York bagels make the rest pointless…or simply vehicles for Earth Balance or peanut butter or Tofutti or whatnot.  I’m not saying I always stick to this, but I can maintain an authentic bagel hiatus knowing I’ll be back.  I wasn’t even aware of this emptiness in my life until a few months into my move to Portland – I had returned to NY, suddenly, and needed a bagel.

Bagel Case at Bagels on the Square, NYC


There were at least 5 or 6 varieties of tofu cream cheese in there!

Cream Cheese R Us

The Boneshakers bagel sandwich was a beautiful sight.  Turmeric colored tofu scramble, melted Daiya cheddar, browned veggie sausage, and that swell bagel.  I’ve come to accept that Daiya has taken over the world and it undeniably worked and melted in this bagel sandwich.  This sandwich could be part of civilization! It could star in a commercial!

That being said, it was on the bland side, overall, but there’s always hot sauce – and again, just look at it!  I look forward to spending more time at this cafe on a future visit.  Their menu was really appetizing and the location reminded me of Red & Black.

Bagel Sandwich!

Boneshakers NYC

More on Bagels:


  1. There’s a Jewish bakery in my neighbourhood that makes the best bagels I’ve ever tasted (and some of the only vegan ones in the city, since Vancouverites like to ruin a perfectly good ring of carbs with an egg wash), and I’m dying to know if they taste like the authentic NY ones. They’re denser, chewier, slightly heavier, and just so much different tasting than any others I’ve tried. Does that sound authentic?

    Come here and taste one for me. 🙂

  2. Bagel sandwiches are one of the best foods ever. I too am a bagel snob. There was a bagel place near me in Brooklyn (Bay Ridge) that was a 1 minute walk away and their bagels were big, pillowy messes. Same for the bagels at the otherwise awesome Bagel Caboose in Kittery ME (vegan cream cheese! good coffee! no soymilk:( )

  3. Well there you are on the other side of the country pointing out to me that BOTS has tofu cream cheese. How have I missed that? In my defense, the bagels are so good (somehow always seemingly warm out of the oven) that I tend to eat them plain. Loves me the Black Russian!

  4. Bagel! Baaagle!! Baaaaagle! You are killing me. I have lived here 17 years but I will never stop craving the bagel. Must. Go. Home. Soon. Pumpernickle. Bagel. Now.

  5. Bagels on the Square! That’s the one Eddie and I were trying to remember. Awesome spreads. There aren’t any bagel places near our Western WA home. Boo (hoo).

  6. I grew up in NJ and would go to this one bagel place everyday before school (it was called Bagel Bin in Bernardsville). I loved it! I haven’t been in years because I have since left the state but omg, do I miss that place. My parents have moved too and we reminisce about Bagel Bin all the time. I miss amazing bagels!

  7. Yes! Love for Bagels on the Square! That’s my neighborhood spot and I think they have the best but I never see them represented in those “best of..” lists. All the easier for me to get the Black Russian bagel I suppose. 🙂

  8. Oh hell yes! Regular visits to Boneshakers are a must whenever I’m in NYC, especially as I have a couple of friends that work there. I almost always get the Sag, but the last time I went, they weren’t using Daiya. Now I want to try the new version!

  9. We are a big time bagel family. I go to our Jewish deli every Friday and buy a weeks worth (Cut and freeze), can’t stand that people call supermarket bagels by the same name-
    Just found your blog- nice to meet you and have a great weekend.

  10. I only lived in NYC for seven months before being forced back to Texas due to a lack of work. But I will never foret Murray’s bagels (500 6th Avenue (12th/13th Streets) ( I actually rode the #6 from Buhre Ave. in the Bronx just for one of their bagels.

    Sadly, they don’t know how to make bagels here in Texas and don’t even get me started on those pre-packageded Sara Lee and Thomas posers. They ain’t got nuthin’ on a New York bagel!

    **heavy sigh** Ah, the memories…

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