Food

8 Bagel Styles You’ll Find Around DC

Know Your Montreals From Your NYCs

New York

Fat, crackly-crusted, and densely soft on the inside, these are boiled in malt-syrup-tinted water, then baked. The result is the standard, dominant bagel style—much imitated, much argued about. (Ask Twitter about toasting one, we dare you.) They often come with an inch-thick layer of cream cheese.

Find them at: Any number of local bagel shops, such as Bagels ’n Grinds (777 Baltimore Ave., College Park).

 

Montreal

These smaller, skinnier rounds with golf-ball-size holes are boiled in honeyed water, then carefully burnished in a wood-fired oven. They’re typically topped with sesame or poppy seed, and can be sweeter than their New York counterparts.

Find them at: Bread Furst (4434 Connecticut Ave., NW), where they’re baked in the same hearth as the lauded breads.

 

90s

Franchise chains such as Einstein’s brought these soft, medium-size bagels to the masses in the mid-1990s. They come in flavors that leave traditionalists reeling (cranberry, jalapeño-cheddar) and make for easy-to-eat breakfast and lunch sandwiches.

Find them at: Manhattan Bagel (310 Maple Ave. W., Vienna; 5710 Union Mill Rd., Clifton), which, like Einstein’s, is owned by Panera.

 

Sweet

The much-dissed cinnamon-raisin bagel now has loads of sugary cousins, including blueberry, chocolate chip, and cinnamon-sugar.

Find them at: Brooklyn Bagel (2055 Wilson Blvd., Arlington), which offers a French-toast-inspired version, plus cream cheeses flavored with strawberry and maple-walnut.

 

Cheffy

These painstakingly made bagels often lean sourdoughy. They’ve also probably sold out by the time you’ve lined up for one.

Find them at: Elle (3221 Mount Pleasant St., NW), where they’re topped with housemade jam or beet-cured salmon, capers, and pickles.

 

Bialy

These relatively rare (around here) hole-free breads, their thin middles paved with onion bits or poppy seeds, have been traced back to Poland. They’re often sold in bagel shops but are not boiled before they’re baked.

Find them at: Bagels Etc. (2122 P St., NW).

 

Sad

Stiff and dry—or soft as Wonder Bread—and often miniature, these are bagels in shape only.

Find them at: Airport kiosks, grocery-store bread racks, hotel breakfast buffets, and freezer aisles.

 

Instagram

Swirled with a bright rainbow of food coloring, this eye-catching, Brooklyn-born style went viral in 2016. They’re often photographed with a layer of rainbow-sprinkle-covered cream cheese.

Find them at: Bethesda Bagels (Bethesda, Rockville, Arlington, Dupont Circle, Navy Yard)—only on weekends.

This article appears in the April 2022 issue of Washingtonian.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

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