Pumpernickel Bagel With Whitefish
Every once in while, I’ll go for long stretches where all I want to eat are bagels. It’s simple, straightforward, and comforting. Growing up, as I mentioned before, I got my bagels at a bagel shop in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center in Bayside. The bagels there were a little bready, but their egg salad was killer on a onion bagel. Later on in college, Columbia Bagels became my go-to bagel spot. Chewy on the outside and soft in the inside, the bagels were perfect. I used to grab an everything bagel with tuna salad right before running to the library to study/sleep. In grad school, I ate pumpernickel bagels with olive cream cheese from Murray’s. Their bagels were chewy, but often times too tough, but I managed. Now, on the weekends, I go to Russ & Daughters for an everything bagel with cream cheese and fatty belly lox. Their bagels, a tad bready, aren’t great alone, but filled with lox and cream cheese, one bite and I’m in heaven.
However, during the work week in Times Square, for a long time I was bagel-less. Times Square isn’t really known for bagels. Ess-A-Bagel is somewhat walkable when the weather is good, but I never found their bready bagels as good as people say. When I got desperate, especially when sick, I would go around the corner to the deli by the Carter Hotel, notorious for being the dirtiest hotel in the United States and infamous because of the dead body found underneath the bed after a guest checked out (read more about it here). Creepy, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Their generic bagels were only good toasted and eaten immediately right after, not a sign of a good bagel.
For four years I toiled in Midtown, eating sad sh*tty bagels, until just recently when I saw my coworker eating a bagel from Times Square Hot Bagels. It turns out everyone at my work knew about this place and had been going there for years without telling me. Thanks guys!
The next day, I immediately went and got a pumpernickel bagel and it was delicious, and also vaguely familiar. The crust was wonderfully chewy and the soft innards were not too airy or dense. I’d eaten bagels like this before. After a little Internet research, I learned the people at Times Square Hot Bagels are the same people that ran Columbia Bagels (now closed). It made sense.
Since “the discovery,” I’ve been going every few days for a pumpernickel bagel with whitefish salad and tomatoes ($5.55). The whitefish at Times Square Hot Bagels — made with lots of tangy mayonnaise, chopped celery, and a little onion — is oily and fishy, in that good whitefish salad way. And so far, I’ve only encountered one little bone. Not a big deal at all.
Times Square Hot Bagels also has flagels, flat bagels that became popular during the Atkins craze. However, I don’t think it has any less carbs. It’s just a bagel squished down and baked so it’s more crisp. Just to try it though, I got an everything with whitefish and tomatoes one day ($5.55), and I can say I wasn’t a big fan. It was too hard and I missed the fluffy carb action you get with regular bagels. I like bagels with a little more junk in the trunk.
So for those who thought good bagels don’t exist in Times Square, I tell you it’s not true. Drop that stale bagel. Life’s too short to eat sh*t.
Times Square Hot Bagels
200 W 44th Street (betw 7th Ave & 8th Ave)
New York, NY 10036 (map)