If you go to my parents house and look in their freezer, you will find at least half a dozen bagels. They never did this while I was living at home, but when I go back, I am glad that they have picked up this habit. Even out of the freezer, east coast bagels are a real treat. Bagels in Chicago just aren’t the same, although NYC Bagel Deli may be the exception.
My wife and I usually end up here on weekends around noon. When you’re hung over, these bagels – and the bagel sandwiches they make with them – are worth the trip. But, now that my wife and I are getting older and our collective lameness grows, we usually just stop in on Sundays before we go to the grocery store nearby.
When you get in to this deceptively small deli, there is a counter full of the typical new york deli things: lox, meats, cheeses, and salads. Whether these are any good, I wouldn’t know. We only go for the bagel breakfast sandwiches.
They have other stuff, but the menu is overwhelming – digital in part and in print in part. And I don’t think anything in the deli case is listed on the big boards.
In between the deli case and the menu boards are the baskets where they hold their bagels. They usually have about 6-8 kinds on hand, and they are all made on premises. If you sneak a peak towards the back, you can see a man making bagels in some sort of Wallace and Grommit style contraption. It’s huge, has lot of moving parts, and billows steam. It’s like Willy Wonka’s bagel factory, and it’s magical in a toil-y kind of way.
Behind the deli case is a man who takes your order. Then, you slide down and pay at the other end of the counter. My wife and I have been coming here for years, and I don’t think any of the staff has changed. That says a lot about the bagels and a lot about the owners. They must be doing something right.
My wife always orders a ham egg and cheese on an everything bagel. I always get a sausage egg and cheese on a pumpernickel. They have salt bagels, which are wonderful, and egg bagels, which taste really authentic.
One time, they got my order wrong and I ended up with a ham and egg with no cheese on a wheat bagel. I didn’t discover the error until we had already gotten in the car and left. I literally cried.
And then I got angry. Who the F gets a ham and egg on wheat? Dammit! Damn! It! I was fuming hot pissed off for like two hours.
The sausage egg and cheese on pumpernickel really is worth throwing a temper tantrum for. The sausage strikes that balance of chewiness and snap that reminds you of a food truck (and I don’t mean the douchey kind you follow on twitter). The egg is always fried hard, the cheese is always a super melty slice of american, and together, it’s all just a little too salty. Putting this against the sweetness of pumpernickel is all sorts of right. And I think this is the only place where I don’t think the caraway seeds are annoying.
If it’s not busy, the best way to enjoy your NYC Bagel Deli sandwich is to eat it there. There’s a simplicity to the place that I find calming, even when people are literally elbow to elbow as they wait for their food. If you go there, always remember to tip; you will be rewarded with a hearty Thank You by the entire staff. It’ll do wonders if you are having a low self esteem day. And on your way out, ring the bell. It’s like the best part of going there.