Best Bagels - 2008
East Side Bagel & Deli and Bagelmania
It's not just about the bagels. You want a place that evokes the old-time Lower East Side, with wise, gabby people exchanging gossip or leafing through the New York papers as they eat their bagels, typically with a schmear of cream cheese and a slice of nova. This brings us to East Side Bagel & Deli, a modest little restaurant in a commercial strip near the Galt Ocean Mile. The display case is always full of bagels, and they're just the right consistency (chewy, not bready or — heaven forbid — rock-like). There's lots of talk and a friendly staff to serve a full breakfast or lunch, or just your favorite round ones (sesame seed, poppy seed, egg, plain, you get the idea). New owner Kevin Spence says that, when it comes to bagels, he's got a tough, seasoned crowd, many of them from New York. "They know what they're eating," Spence says. And they come back for more. In fairness, most of East Side Deli's bagels are prepared at Bagelmania, where they know a thing or two about baking bagels. No, says Denise Jimenez, the Bagelmania boss' wife, it's not the water (the usual excuse for why you can't get a good bagel outside of New York). "You mix the dough, then you let it sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours," she says. "That's the secret. If you don't let it sit, it doesn't come out right."