I have long been a fan of bagels. When others scoffed at my preference for the plainer cousin of glossed and sprinkled donuts, I reveled. Purveyors such as Lenders and Thomas had been my supplier of choice, from grocery stores and supermarkets alike. I thought Philadelphia Cream Cheese was the creme de la creme topping choice – strawberry, of course.
When I was a college sophomore, I visited my best friend Liz in Austin, Texas. She took me to Einstein Brothers and introduced me to the concept of fresh hot ‘shmeared’ taste sensations – and later that year, I was lucky enough for seconds as a bridesmaid at my friend Melanie’s wedding. With premium varieties like chocolate chips and poppy seeds, I never imagined bagels could get any better.
Fast forward to 2010 and Charlottesville, VA. My husband and I relocated to this college town and knew we made the right choice after experiencing Bodo’s. From their egg and cheese breakfast bagel sandwiches, to natural peanut butter, tofu and so much more…I really didn’t think bagels could be elevated to a higher level…
…until December, 26,2011: the day I had an Ess-a-Bagel. Thank you.
Monday morning started with the long-awaited meeting of an authentic NYC bagel and my mouth.
Hubby and I walked down to the Lexington Park location around 9 AM. Directly adjacent to one of the strangest looking Taco Bells I have ever seen, the shop boasted a certain comforting feeling the moment we walked in.
Once inside, the line was about 30 people deep – and curved around the narrow middle walkway of the shop. Nevertheless, my mouth started watering, just scanning the display cases – tons of bagels, baked goods, deli offerings and a rainbow of cream cheese spreads started chanting my name! I suggested to hubs that he grab a menu to check out his options.
The line moved pretty quickly and in about 15-20 minutes, we were approaching the ordering stations. I decided on a salt bagel with lox spread, and hubs was going with an everything egg and cheese sandwich. As soon as we ordered, I suggested to hubs that he ask for the food ‘to go’ just in case we had to eat and run, then meandered down to the entrance area to see if a seat opened up, since the main dining area was packed!
Lucky for us, a table opened up, and about 2 minutes later, hubs appeared with our food and we took our first bites…
WORTH. EVERY. PENNY!
Hubs is not one to rave about food, but he declared his egg and cheese bagel the best ever. I took small bites of mine, dividing the halves further, as the bagel was so thick, I knew I could savor it longer in quarters. The bagel was bready, not not dense. Light, but fulfilling. And the lox spread? Flavorful, creamy and somehow cloud-like. Incredible.
BEST BAGELS EVER.
We followed up the carb-fest, still raving about our brunch – with a long walk. We did some more traversing around – along Midtown and back to Central Park, as hubs had not seen it in daylight yet.
We decided against going to the zoo, but we walked by…and then to Grand Central Terminal.
By this time, we were trying to decide our next plan of action. Of course, we had to get pizza before leaving NYC – we had seen so many options around the city, but ultimately, we decided to head back to Little Italy for Lombardi’s! So, with our new-found subway skills, we traveled to the Spring Street station and to our lunchtime destination. There was a long line when we arrived (it curled around the building) but after checking in with the hostess, we were told it’d be about a 20 minute wait. No worries! Our name was called in about 15 minutes and we were led to the back dining area.
We ordered a Small Pizza with Fresh Wild Mushrooms & Homemade Meatballs, as well as two Italian Sodas – we both felt like one for some reason! I got the Raspberry and hubs went with Vanilla…yum!
As we waited, we saw so many tasty looking pizzas being delivered to neighboring tables. We weren’t starving when we arrived, but as each pizza passed us, our mouths were beginning to water!
When it arrived, we served up our pieces even before I could snap a pic! Mmmmm…..so good! The cheese was really my favorite part, but the fresh toppings added so much flavor!
The pizza was about ~$22 and had six slices. I ate three, first time in a LONG time that I ever ate more than two slices in one sitting! I think it helped that the pizza was so thin crusted and the ingredients so fresh – it didn’t weigh down your belly at all!
Super happy about our food choices of the day, we headed back to Times Square for a touch of souvenir perusing, as well as a stop in to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for hubs to warm up a bit, and for me to run down the corner and purchase our last cupcake sampling (for the trip back) at Crumbs.
The trip back was (fortunately) uneventful, as we met up our busmates and shuttled it back to Vienna, arriving back there at 11 PM, followed by the 2-hr drive back to Charlottesville, placing us back home a little after 1 AM.
In all, it was a super fun weekend and we had a great time playing tourist in the city that never sleeps – we didn’t get around to seeing a show, because the TKTS booth was always so mobbed, but I know we will be back someday, so it was a fantastic ‘preview’ sort of excursion.
…and though we had a blast, it definitely was great to be back home in our cozy bed – even though I had to wake up in a few hours to make it to work Tuesday morning!