Ask any local about the best bagel and lox in New York City and raised voices are bound to ensue. New Yorkers are a passionate bunch and they’re not shy about standing up for the best of the best, so creating a list of the best bagel and lox in NYC is no easy feat!
But alas, someone has to do the impossible and that’s where I come in. I’m a New York local and I’ve had my fair share of lox and bagels over the course of my thirty years. Today I’d like to share my personal list of the best bagels and lox in New York City for anyone planning to visit.
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
What is lox?
Some folks may not realize that smoked salmon and lox are two different things. Smoked salmon is brined (or cured) and then smoked whereas lox is brined (or cured) but not smoked.
Lox was originally used as a means to preserve fish before the invention of the refrigerator. Typically the fish is salt-cured to draw out the moisture so that it can keep longer.
But it gets confusing. One of the most popular options is Nova lox, which is technically called Nova smoked salmon, but often gets shortened to Nova lox. It has a rich buttery texture because it’s both brined and smoked and is always my go-to option.
Best Bagels & Lox New York City
Russ & Daughters
Offering some of the best bagels and lox in New York City for more than 100 years, Russ & Daughters is a beloved staple in the city. They have an impressive selection of smoked fish, cream cheese and appetizers. What’s more, they’re one of the few bagel spots that offer cavier, which my husband always orders.
This particular delicatessen stands a mile above the rest and is worth going out of the way for. Russ & Daughters has expanded over the years but I suggest visiting the original store on the Lower East Side. Nothing beats the original. 😉
Address: Lower East Side, 179 E Houston St | NYC 10002
Reading suggestion: 15 Mouthwatering NYC Bagels That Validate the Hype
What can I say about Frankel’s Deli that hasn’t been said before? Locals have been singing their praises for years and I’m not about to stray. Offering all the standard fixings of a typical Jewish deli, Frankel’s velvety lox sets them apart from the competition.
There’s no denying that Frankel’s serves some of the best bagel and lox in New York City. In fact, I’d gladly commute an hour to get my hands on this bad boy, and sometimes do!
Address: 631 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
I’m reluctant to mention Barney Greengrass because the place is already so popular among locals, but I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t. Known as “The Sturgeon King of New York” this institution has been serving the Upper West Side since 1908.
They’re best known for their knock-out smoked fish and lox, which U.S. Presidents have requested directly (seriously). They churn out some of the best bagels and lox in New York City and the UWS is lucky to have them.
My husband and I have a tradition of starting every Saturday morning by splitting a bagel from Barney Greengrass and eagerly await the weekend because of it.
Address: 541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
Found on the corner of Broadway and West 80th, Zabar’s (pronounced zay-bar) is a family run grocery store that feels like a true New York experience. They have a vast selection of items to choose from — everything from smoked fish, a surprising assortment of cheeses and a delectable bakery, but the lox is where they shine.
My husband and I never pass up an opportunity to order a bagel with lox while we’re in the area. It’s irresistible and reasonably priced.
P.S. Zabar’s is a great place to stock up on picnic items before heading to Central Park.
Tompkins Square Bagels
Tompkins Square Bagels is named for the park located a stone’s throw away. The hand rolled bagels churned out of this iconic bagel shop are kettle boiled and baked fresh daily until 1pm.
The bagels are hefty in size but the plethora of air pockets makes them light, chewy and downright irresistible. I couldn’t put mine down. The bagels serve as the perfect canvas for an impressive selection of spreads but it’s hard to beat classic cream cheese with lox.
All this to say, if you have a hankering for one of NYC’s best bagels and lox at lunch time, Tompkins Square Bagels has you covered.
Serving New Yorkers since 1976, Ess-a-Bagel is a true New York institution. Started by an Austrian baking family, the success is hardly surprising and the hour-long wait proves locals (and tourists) won’t settle for anything less.
Soft and chewy bagels adorned with delectable spread and buttery lox, what’s not to like? Ask any local about the best bagels and lox in NYC and I’d be surprised if you didn’t hear Ess-A-Bagel mentioned more than once.
Black Seed Bagels
At face value it may seem like Black See Bagels has two strikes against them: They’re the newish kids on the block (opening in 2014) and they serve Montreal-style bagels (hand-rolled and poached). Montreal bagels are thinner than tradition New York bagels, but it works.
New Yorkers find them irresistible, as evidenced by the long lines every hour of the day. The signature recipe is attributed to Black Seed Bagel’s James Beard-nominated executive chef, Dianna Daoheung — and dang, she knows her stuff.
What’s more, the house-made spreads are worth writing home about — especially the dill and lox spread (I’m still dreaming about it). It’s not hard to see why Black Seed Bagel has risen to the top of many “best bagels in NYC” lists in such a short span of time.
Located in charming Cobble Hill neighborhood in Brooklyn, Shelsky’s was the first NYC bagel and lox I had and it set the bar exceptionally high. Offering a great variety of smoked fish sandwiches and incredible house-cured lox don’t be surprised if you find yourself tempted to make this a weekly tradition.
There’s a reason this place boasts long lines practically ever hour of the day — many consider Murray’s the best bagels and lox in New York City. In fact, you’ll find it mentioned on practically every “best bagels in NYC” list because it deserves the hype.
This iconic New York City bagel shop has been pleasing New Yorkers since 1996. The bagels are large and fresh and delicious. Expect a satisfying crusty exterior and perfectly chewy interior. The best way to dress a bagel at Murray’s is with a generous serving of lox. Thankfully, they have a great selection to choose from, which guarantees you’ll leave satisfied.
Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company
Naturally assuming the bagel shop was located in Brooklyn, I was surprised to find that Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company doesn’t boast any Brooklyn locations. Rather, there are four shops peppered across Manhattan and Queens.
Regardless of the little naming snafu this place is an absolute gem. They serve some of the best bagels in New York City (very airy on the inside with a crusty outside). It’s one of the best in the city and I can’t resist the urge to swing by whenever I’m in the neighborhood.
Quick recap of the best lox bagels in NYC
- Russ & Daughters
- Frankel’s Delicatessen
- Barney Greengrass
- Tompkins Square Bagels
- Black Seed Bagels
- Murray’s Bagels
- Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company
Map of the best salmon bagels in New York City