Ask any local about the best bagel and lox in New York City and raised voices are bound to follow. New Yorkers are a passionate bunch and they’re not shy about standing up for the best of the best. All this to say, creating a list of the best bagel and lox in NYC is no easy feat, but someone had to try.
After living in NYC for 10 years, here’s a roundup of the best bagels and lox I’ve had to date, enjoy!
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 10 Best Neighborhoods & 3 to Avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Wait, what exactly is lox?
First things first. Don’t mistake smoked salmon for lox, because they’re two different things. Smoked salmon is cured (or brined) before being smoke. Lox, on the other hand, is brined or cured, but never smoked. Lox was means to preserve fish before the invention of the refrigerator. Typically, raw fish is salt-cured to draw out the moisture so it keeps longer.
But it does get a bit confusing. One of the most popular lox options on offer is 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. That technicality aside, think of lox as cured fish.
The Best Bagels & Lox in New York City
(Table of Contents)
NYC Bagels & Lox (Table of Contents)
Russ & Daughters
Offering some of the best bagels and lox in New York City for more than 100 years, Russ & Daughters is an institution. This beloved Jewish deli has an impressive selection of fish, schmears and appetizers. Russ & Daughters stands a mile above the rest and is worth a detour, I suggest visiting the original location on the Lower East Side!
I don’t gate-keep good food. When it comes to sharing great finds, I’m the first to chime in. Offering all the standard fixings of a typical Jewish deli, Frankel’s velvety lox sets them apart from the competition. My favorite item on the menu is the signature lox sandwich — Frankel #1 (pastrami salmon, scallion cream cheese & dill cucumber salad). The dill cucumber salad kicks this classic up a notch, it’s delicious.
Reading Suggestion: 15 Mouthwatering NYC Bagels That Validate the Hype
Shelsky’s of Brooklyn
Located in charming Cobble Hill neighborhood in Brooklyn, Shelsky’s sets the bar high for great bagels and lox. 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.
Website: Shelsky’s of Brooklyn
Locations: 141 Court St, Brooklyn, NY & 453 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY
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.
Best known for knock-out smoked fish and lox, which U.S. Presidents have requested directly for the White Hour (seriously). They churn out some of the best bagels and lox in New York City and the Upper West Side is lucky to have them.
Found on the corner of Broadway and West 80th, Zabar’s (pronounced zay-bar) is a family-owned grocery store that feels like a true New York experience. They have a vast selection of items to choose from — everything from smoked fish and cheeses to delectable baked goods. However, the lox is where they shine (plus, the bagels are 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 but the 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.
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.
List of the Best Lox Bagels in NYC
- Russ & Daughters
- Frankel’s Delicatessen
- Barney Greengrass
- Tompkins Square Bagels
- Black Seed Bagels
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