Where to Find the Best Bagels in Boston Right Now
Whether they're onion, garlic, or Cajun-spice flavored, these fresh-baked bagels are everything.
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Woo, boy. When it comes to bagels, people have mighty strong opinions (especially all the NYC expats in your life). Few other foodstuffs generate such impassioned takes, though pizza is probably a close second. Curating a list of Boston’s best bagel shops, then, is biting off more than most would try to chew. And yet, we’ll bravely state a claim about the dozen bakers below: Whether you want a classic onion ring topped with lox and capers or a more contemporary iteration, like Cajun spice smeared with jalapeño cream cheese, their bagels are everything.
The Bagel Table
The Bagel Table started as a pop-up operation about five years ago—now the growing mini-chain is popping up brick-and-mortar stores all over the Boston area. Originally known by the appropriately excitable name OMG! Bagels, the outfit set up its first permanent location at the Street, an open-air retail development in Chestnut Hill; outposts in Brighton and the central Mass. suburb of Ashland have followed, while Natick and Wayland spots are slated to open in September and October, respectively. No matter which address you visit, though, the bagel selection includes the signature “Chestnut Hill” bagel, a nod to the mothership that is made with challah dough.
9 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, 617-730-4500; 86 Guest St., Brighton, 617-208-8232; 21 Main St., Ashland, 508-231-1440, mybageltable.com.
In the pre-COVID era, Mary Ting Hyatt’s Cambridge bagel shop had such a monster-sized following that there were lines out the door. So if you find nothing else in your quest for silver linings right now, know this: The new online ordering system at Bagelsaurus has taken care of those queues. Just give Hyatt a 20-minute heads up online, and you can swing over to snag your favorite slow-fermented bagels—sea salt, cinnamon raisin, and black olive, among others—smeared with cream cheeses such as honey-rosemary and spicy pepper.
1796 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 857-285-6103, bagelsaurus.com.
With a bold name like this, a bagel joint better deliver the goods. Better definitely does—in fact, its New York-style bagels are served by a handful of area cafes and restaurants, including American Provisions in Southie and Grafton Street in Harvard Square. The brand’s Seaport HQ, though, should be your daily destination for fresh-baked bagels that are covered in cream cheese or used for sandwiches loaded with pastrami, smoked turkey, and a certain New Jersey delicacy: pork roll.
83a Seaport Ave., Boston, 857-317-4147, betterbagelsboston.com.
Black Sheep Bagel Café
First things first: Props to Black Sheep for amusingly referring to itself as a “maaa and paaa” shop within the flock of corporate chains that increasingly dominate city streets. More importantly, though, its bagels are bomb—and come in creative iterations like blueberry and Cajun spice, brushed with jalapeño cream cheese, pesto, labne, and other spreads. Wash it down with Massachusetts-roasted Rao’s Coffee, perhaps in the form of a sweetened, Caribbean-style café con leche.
56 John F Kennedy St., Cambridge, 617-945-2189, blacksheepbagelcafe.com.
Davis Square Donuts & Bagels
Whether you crave something sweet or salty, this Somerville spot has you covered. Here you’ll find decadent donuts like the Somerville Cream, which invokes strawberry cream cheese whipped with marshmallow Fluff (the latter was invented in Somerville over 100 years ago). But you’ll also find plenty of poppy seed, asiago, and other bagels served solo or as sandwiches like the Steak Bomb, a meaty option stuffed with peppers and onions.
377 Summer St., Somerville, 617-764-0631, davissquaredonutsandbagels.com.
Get thee to Roslindale when you need to stock up for bagel-based breakfasts at home. Exodus, which first built a cult following for its cold-fermented bagels via farmer’s market appearances, now offers baker’s-choice bags by the dozen and half-dozen; you can pick them up from the Rozzie kitchen facility on Thursdays through Sundays. Don’t forget to add spreads like Sriracha cream cheese, as well as “deli sides” like cold-smoked salmon and whitefish salad.
2 McCraw St., Roslindale, 617-323-3354, exodusbagels.com.
When it comes to grading bagels, the crunch-to-chew ratio is one of the most important factors to consider. Luckily Goldilox, as you might expect, gets the balance juuuuust right with its house-made creations. The rosemary-salt, cinnamon raisin, and various other offerings can be pre-ordered all week for Friday-through-Sunday pickups—and you can always add an extra dollar or two to benefit the Lox for Love program, which sends donations to weekly-changing nonprofits like Rosie’s Place, a pioneering women’s shelter in Boston’s South End. Bonus: Gluten-free bagels and vegan cream cheese is available for those with allergies.
186 Winthrop St., Medford, goldiloxbagels.com.
Katz Bagel Bakery
Katz has a few claims to fame. For one, it purports to be the place that invented the pizza bagel (although there’s actually an East Coast-West Coast feud about the snack’s origins). Owner Richard Katz also says that he trained the baker who opened the first bagel shop in China (you can find that story here). But whatever big boasts the place makes, here’s one comparatively humble fact we know to be true: Katz, founded in 1938, is a local icon with a long history and a legendary knack for making amazing, straightforward bagels and schmears.
139 Park St., Chelsea, 617-884-9738, katzbagels.com.
Here’s another old-school landmark—even if its 1978 founding is relatively recent, compared to Katz. Kupel’s, a beloved and family-run Brookline bagel maker, is known for the consistency with which it turns out its all-Kosher parve creations. Garlic, pumpernickel, and sissel rye varieties are all stellar, though honestly, the perfect plain bagel might be Kupel’s best canvas for painting with chive, green olive, and lox-and-scallion cream cheeses.
421 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-566-9528, kupelsbakery.com.
One of the more unexpected things we learned during quarantine: How to maximize freezer space. (You become quit adept at the Tetris-like game of stocking perishables when every supermarket trip is an anxiety-inducing expedition.) Well, make some room for the frozen baker’s-dozen bags from Levend, located inside the Boston Public Market. Although the vendor of pepper jack, herb cheddar, and other sourdough bagels does sell fresh-baked versions about once a week, Levend has really focused on frozen bagels—available for delivery or pickup all week long—during the COVID era. A smart pivot, as our new buy-in-bulk mentality can attest.
100 Hanover St. (Boston Public Market), Boston, 617-945-6123, levendbagelry.com.
Local 338 Bagels & Coffee
Anyone who says you can’t get a NYC bagel in Boston is lying. Because this outfit in West Roxbury, named for the Big Apple’s former bagel-baker union, uses bagels that are basically made in New York; they’re frozen and simply finished off here in the Hub. Whether or not you can taste the difference, they’re delicious—especially when covered with bacon-horseradish or honey-walnut cream cheese, or used for sandwiches like the Mona Lisa, a breakfast delight with tomato, pesto, and balsamic reduction that’ll leave you smiling.
1727 Centre St., West Roxbury, 857-203-9770, local338bagelsandcoffee.com.
A Newton institution for more than 45 years, Rosenfeld’s was born when its eponymous founder decided to trade a career in law for a career in bagel-baking. We are so, so glad he did. Mark Rosenfeld still offers some of the best old-fashioned iterations —like everything, onion, and garlic—that are made with a smidge of malt syrup for trademark sweetness. You’ll also find other house-baked breads like bialy, tasty spreads, and smoked fish available for in-store purchase or curbside pickup.
1280 Centre St., Newton, 617-527-8080, rosenfeldsbagels.com.