Where to find the best New York-style bagels in Atlanta
Atlanta isn’t known for its huge selection of fresh bagels. Long-standing bagel stores and institutions, like Bagel Palace in Toco Hill Shopping Square, have sadly disappeared over the years. Other stores, like the no-frills Marietta bagel and the trusty Bagelicous, continue to attract new generations of loyal regulars. Remember to bring cash. A few Atlanta bagel stores have installed water filtration systems, attempting to mimic the water used in stores in Brooklyn, New York, considered the home of the American bagel. While Atlanta may not have the proliferation of bagel stores to be found in New York City, there are some stores specializing in New York-style bagels that are worth looking out for here.
The first bite in a freshly baked bagel should be somewhere between a basic breakfast and a life-changing religious experience. When prepared properly – that is, boiled and then baked – a bagel has a crisp, blistered exterior with a dense, chewy interior.
Basically, the bagel is a humble bread product developed by Jewish communities living in Poland in the mid-1700s. In fact, the word bagel or “beigel” comes from Yiddish, the everyday language spoken by Ashkenazi Jews. at that time. Jewish immigrants from Poland brought the bagel to the United States in the late 19th century, where it has only grown in popularity as a breakfast food since its arrival.
Traditional bagels (read: correct) start out as logs of dough twisted into a ring, then boiled in water, covered with toppings, and cooked to a deep dark brown. A stroll through a well-heeled bagel store smells of freshly baked bread tinged with garlic and onions, as bagels are typically stored each morning in wire baskets stacked along the walls.
As the bagel has assimilated into American culture, it has mostly drifted away from its Jewish roots – sometimes for good, but more often for worse. A real bagel is not a closed sandwich, nor is it toasted when fresh. While on-the-go bagels are often wrapped as a closed sandwich, it is customary to open the wrapper, reassign toppings, and eat the halves individually.
Traditionally, bagels have come in a small number of flavors: garlic, onion, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, salt and all (a combination of each of the previous toppings in one glorious bite.) There is a bit of headroom. maneuver in the bagel everything; the addition of caraway seeds is now moderately common. Oatmeal has recently started appearing on all bagels as well. Better bagel stores also have a bright egg-yellow version of each of these traditional flavors, and there’s an acceptable sweet bagel: cinnamon-raisin.
Since bagels first arrived in America over a century ago, the flavors and toppings have strayed even further from the traditional six aforementioned. But for New Yorker purists, bagels aren’t covered in cheddar cheese or jalapeÃ±os, and certainly not stuffed with blueberries or covered in fruit cream cheese. In no case is a bagel dyed in the colors of the rainbow. And as a Jewish food, there’s no room for bacon on a bagel.
While most people order a single bagel with toppings such as cream cheese (schmear) or lox (cold-salted salmon), true bagel lovers order from the baker’s dozen. Stores are often ready to quickly slice and pack fresh bagels to take home. On request, some stores even include freezer bags with clips.
Looking for great bagels in and around Atlanta? Try any of these six local establishments listed below for some of Atlanta’s best take on New York-style bagels.
6355 Peachtree Road Dunwoody, Sandy Springs
In addition to its bagels, Bagel Boys’ new location in Sandy Springs offers a full menu of breakfast sandwiches, cold cuts, soups and wraps. The bagels here are always fresh daily. The shop includes two additional locations in Alpharetta. Take a seat at an outdoor table or opt for take out. Order in line to take away or delivery. Masks required.
Brooklyn Bagel Bakery and Delicatessen
925 Haynes Bridge Road, Johns Creek
Brooklyn Bagels makes its bagels the New York way: boiled in a pot before baking to produce a crisp, puffy crust and a soft, chewy interior. Traditional bagel options are complemented on the menu by hoagie lunch sandwiches and creative bagel combinations and flavors. Johns Creek Bakery and Deli are planning to open an in-town store at Ansley Mall in Piedmont Heights this spring. Call 770-569-7290 to order take out. Masks required.
Emerald City Bagels
1257A Glenwood Avenue SE, Atlanta
When Emerald City first hit the Atlanta bagel market, aficionados knew these bagels were the real deal. Slowly fermented and boiled in the traditional way, Emerald City bagels have quickly become farmer’s market darlings and dominate the menus at some of Atlanta’s best coffee shops and cafes. Founded by mother-daughter duo Deanna and Jackie Halcrow, Emerald City Bagels now includes a permanent boutique in East Atlanta Village. Bagels tend to sell out quickly every day. Order in line for takeout. Delivery available. Masks required.
Goldberg’s fine foods
3003 North Druid Hills Road NE, Atlanta
Goldberg’s Fine Foods has a full-service restaurant on one side and a traditional bagel counter on the other. The restaurant part of Goldberg’s doesn’t quite fit the full description of a New York or New Jersey restaurant, but it’s the closest thing to Atlanta. Goldberg’s boils and bakes their bagels, which are just part of this establishment’s extensive menu. There’s also a huge selection of breakfast specials, including the popular year-round potato latkes. After breakfast, grab a dozen bagels to take home. Don’t skip the oversized black and white cookies located near cash registers. Goldberg’s has seven locations in Atlanta and two locations at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Masks strongly encouraged.
2153 Briarcliff Road NE, Atlanta
A staple in Atlanta’s kosher community, Kosher Gourmet is a butcher and grocery store in the heart of the Toco Hills neighborhood. Bagels are still available to buy in-store, but Kosher Gourmet is best known for their food platters. Order a variety of bagels, schmears, toppings and more. While shopping, grab a kosher deli sandwich, a freshly made challah, and a bottle of kosher wine. Order in line To pick up. Masks required.
1540 Avenue Place, Atlanta; 6405 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs
General Muir (TGM) set the standard as premium Jewish deli; a category of restaurant that you could say it created in Atlanta. The TGM restaurant menu is quite strict. Bagel entrees are preset with a choice of bagel (plain) to enhance traditional fillings of salted, salted and preserved fish. However, bagels can be ordered Ã la carte and dressed in a DIY way. Unlike other Atlanta stores, TGM isn’t the kind of place where people can just run around and grab a dozen bagels to throw in the freezer. Here, each bagel is meant to be savored and enjoyed slowly. A second, smaller location is now open in Sandy Springs. Hours throughout the pandemic Wednesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Limited catering service. Reservations highly recommended, required on weekends. Order in line for takeout. Delivery available via DoorDash. Masks required.
Robbie medwed is an Atlanta-based food and cultural educator and writer who teaches Jewish Bible, law and history at Epstein School in Sandy Springs. Medwed holds a master’s degree in Jewish education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, where he lived for two years. His culinary writings have appeared in the Atlanta Jewish Times, the Jewish Food Experience, Grok Nation, and Eater Atlanta. He also runs the cocktails website, KosherCocktail.com.