In the game of “my city’s better than your city,” there’s one area where Atlanta will always, unquestionably, indubitably lose and that area is bagels. Atlanta has the worst bagels in the world and yes, I ate in Bagel Palace. Bagel Palace is to bagels what Cindarella’s castle in Disney is to Buckingham Palace in England. That is to say, a fascimile, a carbon copy, a wisp of a ghost of a shadow of a bagel. New York, my friends, is the real deal. You haven’t bageled if you haven’t New Yorked.
And yes, I’ve read your Montreal comments: all well and good. Someday, I’ll check those out. But like a sand-crusted desert crawler, forging his way towards a shimmering mirage of water, I found myself on the first day of my arrival scavenging for bagels. Luckily, I had my New York Magazine Cheap Eats issue handy in which the chef at Per Se (not Thomas Kellar) spends $150 (the price of his price fixe menu) out and about in New York. He gets his bagel from Murray’s and so would I.
Murray’s is not at all far from where I live. The other bastion of good New York bagels, based on my limited knowledge, Ess-A-Bagel is-a-far from my whereabouts and so to a’Murray’s I would a’go.
Murray’s is situated near a Cuban sandwich shop, a gay porn store, and across the street from a theater featuring a tango show. Which is to say that Murray’s is situated in a nexus of culture, part of what makes New York great. I waited patiently in line and ordered what the Per Se guy ordered: an onion bagel with scallion cream cheese and Novia Scotia salmon.
I sat and read an article about Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy in The New Yorker and pretended to ignore a woman screaming loudly into her cell phone. As for the bagel, it was love at first bite. This was the bagel I’d been waiting for: my seven years of Dunkin’ Donuts/Einstein Bagels Purgatory finally over. Poppy’s hide your seeds: the bagel bandit has arrived.