Goldberg's New York Bagels wins fans with its wide variety of flavors. Photograph by Scott Suchman
The perfect bagel is all about balance and proportion. It should be not too big, not too doughy, not too chewy, not too sweet, and not too hard. The exterior should be slightly crunchy, the interior light and airy.
We went in search of this elusive ideal of perfection. The results? New York this ain’t. (Okay, that’s not news.)
But we did turn up a number of places that have shmear-worthy bagels. Note: While there are some generously made sandwiches out there—Ize’s Deli & Bagelry in Rockville produces some—in this survey we confined our quest to the bagels themselves. Here are the best.
Bagels and . . .
2019 West St., Annapolis; 410-224-8686
The best in the area, and should you happen to catch them fresh out of the oven, you’ll forget all about that trip to New York’s H&H or Zabar’s. The bialys are excellent, too—but they tend to be gone by noon. Owners David and Rona Finkelstein also get good-quality whitefish and lox. (The latter, on a recent visit, was richly succulent.)
Goldberg’s New York Bagels
9328 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 240-450-4177; 4824 Boiling Brook Pkwy., Rockville, 301-816-9229
The bagel sandwiches are stintingly made, but we found ourselves going back again and again for the lovingly baked bagels. The selection is one of the area’s best and most varied, including such unusual varieties as the flagel (a flat bagel that comes in a variety of flavors) and the slightly sweet Black Russian—a great way for kids to transition from blueberry to something more grown-up
12119 Rockville Pike, Rockville; 301-231-8080
We get a kick out of this strip-mall place, with its profusion of signs urging, advising, and tempting you. Bonus points for its invocation of a Jewish mother. You see the same loving abundance in the bagels. Order an “everything” and it’s blanketed with poppy and sesame seeds and coarse salt—making for a wonderful crackle when you take that first bite.
3715 Macomb St., NW; 202-885-5700
Surprise: One of the area’s premier destinations for pizza also makes bagels—but only on Sundays, and the small supply runs out fast. Owner Peter Pastan’s version of the Jewish staple is a reminder of what bagels used to be: an entirely artisanal item—made by hand, served fresh and hot. The house-made cream cheese is terrific.
Royal Bagel Bakery & Deli
19725 Germantown Rd., Germantown; 301-428-1888
This New York import—it arrived here two decades ago—has new owners, so this listing comes with an asterisk. Its legions of fans are hoping the ship stays steady—the bagels alone used to be worth the drive. The shop also produces its own cream cheeses, stocks a good supply of whitefish and lox, and showcases a selection of cookies, pastries, and cakes that could have been lifted from a Lower East Side deli.
This article appears in the May 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.
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