Every once in a while I get a hankering for a fresh, piping hot bagel from Ess-A-Bagel, which is a block away from my office. I stopped by last week for my usual order (cinnamon raisin bagel, toasted with butter) and witnessed the most aggressive situation ever. The tourists in town for the holidays didn’t get how the line or ordering process worked, and were all sorts of confused. Unfortunately, the employees and manager had zero patience and were having NONE of it – and started hollering at them. So, let me save you the headache (literally) and bruised ego, by explaining the nuances of the bagel-ordering process in New York.
Step one: Get in the long line snaking around the store. Yes, this is the line for bagels.
Step two: There will be a long counter in front of you. When one of the bagel guys yells, “Next!” that is your cue. Go stand in front of him at the counter. Even if he is all the way down the front near the cash register, you are not “cutting” the other people at the counter. Once you’re being helped, you’re out of the main line.
Step three: Tell your order to the bagel guy all at once, in a row. Don’t falter and know your full order by the time you get to the counter (or else). Somehow, the bagel guys have amazing memories and can remember very detailed orders with ease. For example, you could say: “One salt bagel, toasted with butter. One everything bagel, scooped and toasted, with chive cream and lox.”
Step four: Wait and do NOT move down towards the register. They will step away to start putting together your order. Do not move because they probably don’t remember what you look like, which will prolong the bagel delivery process. Just stand there and be patient. Tell them any drink or pastry orders now.
Step five: Don’t be alarmed if they yell “Next!” again before you receive your order. These guys are five-star multi-taskers. Your bagels are probably still in the toasting machine, so they’re getting another order started.
Step six: They will throw your order at you/onto the counter wrapped in deli paper. You may or may not be acknowledged. Grab it and head down to the cash register. Pay. Order any last-minute drinks or pastries. (Notice how I keep mentioning the pastries? They’re SO good. Black and white cookies are THE BEST from bagel places for some reason. Order some. You’re welcome.)
Step seven: Unwrap that bundle of deliciousness and enjoy. You just ordered a bagel like a New Yorker.
My favorite bagel places:
- Daniel’s Bagels (569 3rd Ave., (212) 972-9733, danielsbagelsnyc.com)
- H&H Bagels (1551 2nd Ave., (212) 734-7441, hhmidtownbagelseast.com)
- Ess-A-Bagel (359 First Ave., 212-260-2252; 831 Third Ave., 212-980-1010, ess-a-bagel.com)
- Pick-A-Bagel (1101 Lexington Ave., 212-517-6590, pickabagelny.com)