A few years back, I was living in the East Village and Alphabet City area and was truly disappointed and amazed to find that that section of the city was utterly and hopelessly bagel-less. What a travesty! I was forced to trek the ten blocks north all the way up to Gramercy to get a decent bagel. Obviously that doesn’t sound like a hell of a lot of distance these days compared to my current bagel trekking situation on the West Coast, but back then that seemed like an extraordinary hike for a simple bagel in New York.
More recently, however, that part of NYC has been blessed with an outstanding bagel shop known as Tompkins Square Bagels situated right on the corner of 10th and A near Tompkins Square Park. Tompkins Square Bagels arrived over two years ago and brought both big beautiful bagels and strong support for the local East Village community to the neighborhood. This shop has a ton of close relationships to other small, local businesses and really does a excellent job supporting the East Village community by hiring locals and selling the juices, baked goods, coffee, and more produced by other local small businesses. Hell, even that awesome mosaic signage was made by the East Village’s Mosaic Man.
But, Tompkins Square Bagels is about so much more than just their admittedly excellent vibe and decor. Their bagels are absolutely top notch – second to none. They are hand rolled, kettle boiled, and oven baked daily on premises. They do it all right – using old-school methods and equipment to full effect. Whenever I’m back in town, this the first place I stop to get my much needed bagel and lox fix.
On this visit, I was eating with my parents who had ordered an Egg Bagel with Whitefish Salad and claimed that it was some of the best Whitefish Salad they’d found in NYC and I’ve got to agree.
It was quite delicious and featured a generous spreading of high-quality, salty, smoked, and shredded whitefish with just the right level of mayo. It was just enough to keep the whole thing moist and creamy, but not so much as to overwhelm the fish or sandwich. And the egg bagel? It was huge, crackly on the outside, doughy and chewy on the inside – just like it should be. This was a shining example of how to put together a proper whitefish bagel.
But what I ordered – an Everything Bagel with Lox Deluxe – was the real reason I came to Tompkins Square Bagels. There just something about that carbo-loaded, salty, creamy, fish sandwich that I just can’t get enough of and it pains me that it’s so difficult to get my hands on a great one in the Bay Area.
The sandwich at Tompkins Square Bagel was truly massive – layered tall with thin slices of smoked salmon, fresh-crisp tomato, raw onion, briny capers, and plenty of cream cheese. Every element was a in perfect balance and this sandwich really did an excellent job filling in that gaping void in my bagel-less West Coast life. This is exactly what I had been missing. Really, it’s all about the simple joys in life and this is one of them.
So, if you want to see what perfectly exemplary bagels in New York are like, stop into Tompkins Square Bagels any day of the week and get an Everything Bagel with Lox Deluxe. It’s seriously got everything I look for in a bagel and lox sandwich absolutely nailed and the environment is so incredibly pleasant to boot.
Where do you go for bagel and lox in NYC? Where can I go to find a suitable Bay Area bagel substitute? Let me know in the comments below.
Tompkins Square Bagels
165 Avenue A New York, NY 10009