In celebration of National Bagelfest Day (tomorrow!), we set out to find the best bagels across the State; we are delighted to find these carb-tastic treats in every corner. New York City may be thought of as the epicenter of the bagel world — for several decades, the now erstwhile H&H Bagels served the Upper West Side and beyond, offering delivery worldwide within 24 hours — but bagel haunts Statewide add their own twist to this classic. Go ahead, get a poppy seed stuck in your teeth trying these regional favorites.
Bagel Grove (Utica)
“Utica’s authentic bagelry” rivals New York City institutions. In fact, they’re so good that Bon Appétit Management Company orders an estimated 24,000 bagels each month during the school year to supply nearby Hamilton College’s food service. Recent graduate Sydney Rutman calls Bagel Grove “a saving grace in a land where Dunkin’ Donuts are the norm.” Classmate Laurie Sadove says Bagel Grove bagels are “so delicious, they bring you back to New York City for a short moment, causing one to forget you are in a land of cow pastures.” With over two dozen bagel varieties, a daily special bagel (featuring flavors like “Saranac Black & Tan”), and over 20 cream cheese flavors, who’s to disagree? Until 1988, Utica locals had to rely on a weekly truck delivery to experience authentic New York City bagels. Second-Generation owners Matt and Annie continue to deliver the tradition of local bagels, now made in Utica with as many local and organic ingredients as possible.
Uncommon Grounds (Saratoga)
Audra Herman, NYSOM’s Marketplace Director (and unofficial Upstate foodie guru) raves over Uncommon Bagels as “the best bagel and coffee bar in Saratoga.” Fresh bagels are baked daily on the premises, where customers may pair with their favorite home-brewed coffee. Bagels of all flavors, including rosemary olive, jalapeno, and banana nut can be served practically any style, from hummus sandwich to simply toasted and schmeared with butter. Uncommon Grounds promises to build your “Dream Sandwich.” Their most common order after classic bagels and cream cheese? Breakfast bagels (i.e. egg, cheese, bacon) or the turkey sandwich bagel.
What began as a small bakery in 1976 is now a Finger Lakes essential—and not just to nearby Cornell and Ithaca College students! With over a dozen varieties, including the “Long Island”—sesame, poppy seed, onion; their version of a classic everything bagel—customers of all ages flock to Collegetown Bagels for all sandwich cravings “with a local touch and a cosmopolitan vision.” (They also offer EXCEPTIONAL gluten-free products, as our Editor in Chief can attest, so your Celiac friends won't miss out). Baking over 1,000 bagels per day, Collegetown Bagels acquired 80-year-old Ithaca Bakery in 1983, creating a full retail, catering and wholesale delivery service throughout the region. Today, all Collegetown Bagel and Ithaca Bakery locations are owned and operated by a team of over 250 employees between five locations in the Ithaca area.
Balsam Bagels (Rochester)
In the western reaches of the State, Rochesterians can nosh on great bagels at Balsam Bagels. With 18 different varieties, and over two dozen different cream cheese flavors, we hope to try a more unusual bagel-cream-cheese combination during our next trip to the Flower (Flour!) City. How about whole wheat with cranberry orange cream cheese, or a pumpkin bagel, toasted and schmeared with maple pecan cream cheese? Save us one of those, and hold a French Toast bagel for dessert, please.
Albany Bagel (Albany)
Albany Bagel, unlike most patisseries, has a non-profit objective: “To bring real bagels to the city of Albany and build the community while we’re at it.” All of Albany Bagel’s profits earned this summer at the Crossings Farmers’ Market in Colonie are donated to various Albany charities. One hundred percent of all profits are donated to Albany nonprofits, and ten percent of all revenue is donated to sponsored charities, including Homeward Bound Dog Rescue and Albany Bike Rescue. For now, they’ll only be serving everything and plain bagels. But with these two perfected varieties, backed by a great cause, every bite is extra delicious.
Ground Support (NYC)Mornings in New York City are rarely described as “simple.” But I have found that I am eager to wake up if I can get a bagel and coffee at Ground Support, a SoHo sanctuary. It’s easy to find feel zen when the typical ambient music is a James Taylor station on Pandora. Bonus: no one understands my complicated order — whole-wheat everything bagel, scooped out and lightly toasted with butter and tomato slices — quite as well, or patiently, as these guys do. In fact, nothing is complicated when you have your feet on the “Ground.”