After four weeks of scouring Brooklyn for the perfect bagel, the search has come to an end. Every neighborhood has at least one incredible bagel shop, but there can be only one most bodacious bagel. Be sure to check out parts 1, 2, and 3 of the search before reading on.
To round out the search before crowning a champion, I visited two final bagel shops south of Prospect Park.
The name is unforgettable, and their bagels aren’t too shabby either. Kosher Bagel Hole has two locations in diverse Midwood. Both are right near the Avenue J Q train station, surrounded by other Kosher establishments. The small storefront on Ave J offers some counter seating for people watching, and customers can watch the bagel masters pull rows of bagels out of the oven as they wait in line.
The clientele is heavily Hasidic, but still diverse. The staff have the brusque yet friendly demeanor of seasoned deli countermen. They may crack wise with unprepared customers such as, “Okay, so you want lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion, hold the pickles and onion?” Customers aren’t afraid to playfully ridicule each other either. When I asked a question about my order, the elderly gentleman next to me with a yarmulke and peyot shook his head and winked at me as he said, “Picky, picky.”
The bagels are small, dense, old-school New York-style bagels, and they’re delicious. Cooked to perfection with a crispy exterior, they leave little to be desired. Even better, they’re a bargain. The plain bagel with lox, cream cheese, tomato, and onion cost a mere $7.03. Compared to the $9 and up prices of most other bagel shops, KBH is a steal. The $0.14 up-charge to toast the bagel is a bit odd, but who really cares when the bagel is that cheap? The lox were not fancy by any means, but the bagel maker heaped them on generously. The only downside to the sandwich was the cream cheese had only been applied to one half of the bagel, something I’ve noticed diminishes my enjoyment. The $1.98 everything bagel with cream cheese was an absolute 10/10.
Kosher Bagel Hole isn’t just the king of Midwood’s bagel scene. With bargain basement prices, it’s up there with the best bagels in the borough.
- Taste: 8
- Texture: 9
- Value: 10
- Intangibles: 8
- Final Score: 9
Just one block away from the Cortelyou Road Q station in Flatbush-Ditmas Park, Catskill Bagel Co. is impossible to miss. Their large sign and well lit storefront welcome bagel seekers into the long, narrow storefront. Once inside, diners will find ample comfy seating in the front of the store where they can sit after ordering in the back. The menu has plenty of options in addition to bagels, but with the bagels, cream cheeses, and lox all made on the premises, why order anything else?
A bagel with cream cheese, lox, tomato, and onion costs $9, but is worth at least double that. For your money, you get a toothsome sandwich loaded with every delectable ingredient crammed in between two bagel halves. The bagel itself is everything a bagel should be, and nothing more. The cream cheese is rich but not overwhelming, an unwavering bass-line upon which the lox, tomato, onion, and capers improvise like the members of a jazz band jamming in the whee hours of the morning. The house-cured fresh lox melt in your mouth like a luxurious, smokey piece of candy. The tomato, onion, and capers add a necessary love-tap of acidity to accent the sandwich’s perfection. The everything bagel was nothing special. It had excellent texture, but it was over-seasoned and overwhelmed my palate. I gladly retreated back to the pure ecstasy of the plain bagel and lox.
Catskill Bagel serves up an excellent product at a reasonable price, with dream-worthy accoutrements.
- Taste: 10
- Texture: 10
- Value: 9
- Intangibles: 9
- Final Score: 10
It comes down to the two shops that earned a 10/10 final score: Bagel Pub and Catskill Bagel. Have-a-Bagel deserves an honorable mention, but it fell just short on its intangibles with its bare-bones carryout storefront.
Bagel Pub rolls a wicked bagel, and it has just about everything imaginable on its menu. However, eating Catskill’s plain bagel with lox, cream cheese, tomato, onion, and capers was an out-of-body experience. It was what I hope the afterlife will be. It was pure, unadulterated bliss in the form of a bagel. Therefore, the most bodacious bagel in Brooklyn belongs to Catskill Bagel Company!