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  • Writer's pictureMark Vogel

Bagels & Co. in New York City: A Kosher Journey Through Flavors and Tradition

Kosher bagel shop and restaurant in New York City

Bagels & Co. in New York City
Bagels & Co. in New York City

I recently had a quick bite at the kosher Bagels & Co., located at 391 Amsterdam Ave at 79th Street, right in the heart of the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This visit was not just a mere detour but a planned meet-up with friends visiting from out of town. After their morning at the Museum of Natural History, we decided Bagels & Co. would be the perfect spot for a quick, yet satisfying bite. My experience here was not only a testament to the restaurant's commitment to simplicity, quality, and tradition but also its warm, family-friendly ambiance. In addition to the store on Amsterdam Avenue, Bagels and Co. has a second location on York Avenue on the East Side.

“The menu at Bagels & Co. offers a diverse variety of options including, bagels, pizza, and more.”

The Bagel

The history of the bagel is a fascinating journey that spans continents and centuries, ultimately leading to its beloved status in New York City. Originating in the Jewish communities of Poland in the 17th century, bagels are thought to have been created as a gift to women in childbirth, due to their circular shape symbolizing life and the cycle of it. The word "bagel" itself comes from the Yiddish word "beygl," derived from the German "bougel," meaning a round loaf of bread.


Bagels made their way to America with the waves of Jewish immigrants fleeing Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. New York, with its burgeoning immigrant population, became the epicenter for this culinary tradition. The city's Lower East Side, in particular, became synonymous with Jewish baking and cuisine, including the bagel.


Initially, bagels were handcrafted by Jewish bakers who formed the Bagel Bakers Local 338 union, which kept the tradition, recipes, and techniques closely guarded within the community. These bakers adhered to a rigorous standard of bagel making, boiling the dough before baking it, which gives the bagel its distinctively chewy texture and glossy exterior.


As bagels grew in popularity beyond the Jewish communities, they became a New York staple, reflecting the city's rich cultural tapestry. Over time, the advent of automated bagel-making machines in the mid-20th century expanded bagel production beyond artisanal bakeries, making them widely available across the United States. Despite this mass production, traditional bagel shops, particularly in New York City, pride themselves on their handcrafted techniques, keeping the original spirit of the bagel alive.


Today, bagels are synonymous with New York City, embodying its history of immigration, culinary innovation, and the melting pot of cultures. From classic cream cheese and lox to a myriad of modern flavors and toppings, the bagel continues to be a symbol of New York's enduring charm and its ability to reinvent and embrace traditions from around the world.


A Brief History of Bagels & Co.


Established with a passion for crafting the perfect bagel, Bagels & Co. has grown from its humble beginnings to become a cherished institution in New York City. The secret behind their delectable bagels lies in the simplicity of their process, the quality of local and fresh ingredients, and adherence to traditional bagel-making techniques. Over the years, this kosher restaurant has become a symbol of New York's rich culinary tradition, welcoming locals, and tourists alike into its intimate setting.


The Experience


Upon entering the Amsterdam Avenue location, the intimate charm of Bagels & Co. immediately envelops you. The setting is cozy, making it an ideal spot for family and friends to gather. The menu boasts a wide variety of bagels and spreads, each promising an authentic New York bagel experience.


Service and Ambiance


What sets Bagels & Co. apart, besides its culinary delights, is the warmth and friendliness of its service. The staff welcomed us with open arms, making us feel at home from the moment we stepped through the door. Their recommendations were spot-on, ensuring that our meal was nothing short of delightful.


The ambiance of Bagels & Co. adds to its charm. The intimate setting, with its inviting decor, makes it a perfect backdrop for a casual meet-up with friends or a quiet morning contemplation with a coffee and bagel in hand.


The menu at Bagels & Co. offers a diverse variety of options including, bagels, pizza, and more.
The menu at Bagels & Co. offers a diverse variety of options including, bagels, pizza, and more.

The Menu: Not Just Bagels


The menu at Bagels & Co. offers a diverse variety of options including, bagels, pizza, and more. The pizza selections are particularly noteworthy, featuring a range of flavors from the simple and traditional Cheese Pizza to the more elaborate and unique options like the Pesto & Tomato Pizza, with ricotta pesto and plum tomato, and the Eggplant Parmesan Pizza, with roasted eggplant, garlic, and fresh herbs. Other standout choices include the Broccoli Garden Pizza, laden with fresh broccoli and mixed vegetables, and the Wild Mushrooms Pizza, which is a delight for mushroom lovers with its combination of portobello, shiitake, and cremini mushrooms.


For those looking for something different, the menu also offers pizza slices in various flavors, catering to individual preferences and smaller appetites. Additionally, there's a wide range of sides and appetizers, from French Fries and Garlic Knots to Quiche and Mozzarella Sticks, ensuring there's something for everyone.


The bagel section is extensive, with hand-rolled and kettle-boiled options ranging from the traditional Plain and Everything Bagels to more unique offerings like the Rainbow and Gluten Free Everything Bagels. The breakfast platters provide hearty morning meals, while the bagels & toasts cream cheese spreads section offers a multitude of flavors to enhance any bagel.


For those seeking alternatives to pizza and bagels, the menu also features Belgian waffles, French toast, pancakes, various salads, calzones, knishes, a dedicated Israeli menu, paninis, fresh wraps, sandwiches & platters, and even a chef's daily special.


Bagels & Co. at 391 Amsterdam Ave is more than just a bagel shop; it's a celebration of New York's culinary heritage. Its commitment to simplicity, quality, and tradition shines through in every bite, making it a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the authentic taste of New York City bagels. Whether you're a local or a visitor, Bagels & Co. offers a warm, inviting atmosphere that feels like coming home. As my friends and I left, already planning our next visit, it was clear that Bagels & Co. had added another layer to our New York City adventures.


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