Philly is a bread town. We have great hoagies, cheesesteaks, and pizza — all of which count bread as a key component. Another dough-based item we’re good at? Bagels.

It wasn’t always easy to find great bagels in Philly: Many of the city’s bagel shops just opened in recent years. Now, there are bakers who specialize in the doughy rounds at the helms of bagel bakeshops throughout the city and shops with curated menus of freshly baked bagels, flavorful schmears, and sandwich favorites like bacon, egg, and cheese, or classic lox.

As with many popular foods, there’s strong debate surrounding the best kind of bagel — and that debate centers on two main types: New York and Montreal (which, as my Canadian editor insists, are better than any bagel here). Traditionally, New York bagels are boiled and then baked in an oven (and many credit New York’s soft water as the essential ingredient), while Montreal bagels are boiled in a combo of honey and water and then baked in a wood-fired oven.

In Philly, we have shops that make both styles, along with places that add their own Philly spin (one spot even boils them in beer). And, dare we say it, many of these bagels are just as good (if not better) than the options in New York and Montreal. Bagels made with togarashi? Or bagels made with a touch of rye flour? Count us in.

Here’s where to get the best bagels in Philadelphia.

Bart’s Bagels

Bart’s Bagels began as a wholesale operation supplying bagels to Di Bruno Bros., Elixr Coffee, White Dog Cafe, and more. Now, they have a bagel bakery near Drexel’s campus with a menu that hits the highlights of traditional Jewish bagel shops and delis. Think smoked fish sandwiches, breakfast egg sandwiches, and specialty sandwiches, including house-roasted corned beef, turkey, and sausage. There’s coffee, too.

📍3945 Lancaster Ave., 🌐 bartsbagels.com, 📷 @bartsbagels

Dodo Bagels

Alex Malamy’s pop-up will get a brick-and-mortar location in late summer or early fall at 5013 Baltimore Ave. in West Philadelphia. He’s planning to offer loose bagels and bialys and sandwiches. Look forward to a menu of sturdy bagels that remix New York, New Jersey, and Montreal styles, with over-the-top options like the Ramen Thing, which has become one of Dodo’s biggest draws — a bagel with sliced-to-order boiled egg, pickled ginger, bamboo shoots, fresh scallions, fresh-ground toasted sesame seeds, crispy dried seaweed, and spicy mayo.

📍5013 Baltimore Ave., 🌐 dodobagels.com, 📷 @dodobagels

Essen Bakery

Essen baker and owner Tova du Plessis makes Jewish-style baked goods in her East Passyunk Avenue shop, including poppy seed bagels, flavor-packed everything bagels, plain bagels, and more. The bagels here are a little different than the other options in the city, thanks to the addition of rye flour in the dough (which is also made with tangy sourdough and some honey).

📍1437 E. Passyunk Ave., 🌐 essenbakery.com, 📷 @essenbakery

Four Worlds Bakery

Sourdough is the star at Four Worlds Bakery, where you can order sourdough bread along with simple bagels made with flour, water, and the sourdough starter (and no added sugar). Four Worlds is a grocery store, so you can’t order a full-blown bagel sandwich, but you can pick up the shop’s sourdough bagels, cream cheese, and lox to make your own sandwich at home. Bagels are available for delivery, too, and you can also find them in shops like Spruce Hill Provisions, Mariposa Food Co-op, Batter and Crumbs, the Board and Brew, and more.

📍4634 Woodland Ave., 🌐 fourworldsbakerystore.com, 📷 @fourworldsbakery

K’Far

The bagels at K’Far are Jerusalem-style — oblong and airier than the bagels we’re accustomed to in Philly. At this Rittenhouse shop, bagels come with grilled cheese and tomato; smoked salmon and scallion cream cheese; egg, Cooper sharp, and schug; and more. You can also have your bagel with one of K’Far’s signature Yemenite lattes (milk, espresso, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger) and a chocolate rugelach while you’re at it.

📍110 S. 19th St., 🌐 kfarcafe.com, 📷 @kfar_cafe

Kismet

Kismet began as a pandemic pivot by Jacob and Alexandra Cohen, a husband-and-wife duo who started baking bagels at home at the start of the pandemic. Since then, they regularly draw long lines at farmers markets, and they’ve opened a shop in Fishtown and are opening a spot in Reading Terminal Market where they’ll churn out their beloved bagels, along with a menu of bialys, which are the Polish cousin of the bagel that has a deep dimple (instead of a full hole) where fillings can be plopped.

📍113 E. Girard Ave., 🌐 kismetbagels.com, 📷 @kismetbagels

Knead Bagels

Husband-and-wife team Adam and Cheri Willner started their careers in the fine dining world, and their culinary background is what informs the menu at Washington Square’s Knead Bagels. They make unique bagels like their togarashi-spiced (Japanese seven spice) bagel and black sesame bagel, and have a full menu of house-made bagel accompaniments. Order the sausage, egg, and cheese (a favorite among customers), with house-made sausage, or the chicken salad, which is also made in-house from chickens butchered specifically for their sandwiches.

📍725 Walnut St., 🌐 kneadbagels.com, 📷 @kneadbagels

Korshak Bagels

Philip Korshak began baking bagels out of Angelo’s Pizzeria on select mornings, turning the residency into pop-ups. Now, he has a shop of his own in East Passyunk with lines of poetry displayed in the windows and in captions on his Instagram page. Korshak uses a decade-old starter (named Helen Mirren) to create his boiled-then-baked bagels, which are available in classic flavors like plain, everything, egg, poppy, onion, and sesame, in addition to Cooper sharp long hot, and specials like blue cheese bagels. Korshak Bagels got famous in 2021, when the New York Times named it one of the 50 best restaurants in the whole country.

📍 1700 S. 10th St., 🌐 korshakbagels.com, 📷 @korshak.bagels.poetry

New York Bagel Butler

You can order New York bagels — directly from New York — that are delivered by Josh Anker (a recent Drexel grad) and his team. Anker longed to bring true New York bagels to Philly. (He’s one of those New Yorkers who turns up his nose at Philadelphia bagels, so he always brought them back with him.) Bagel orders must be placed two days in advance, and delivery is available to Center City, South Philly, Fishtown, University City, Kensington, and more, along with a select number of towns outside of the city. The New York bagel shop that supplies the bagels? That’s a secret.

📍Delivery, 🌐 nybagelbutler.com, 📷 @nybagelbutler

Spread Bagelry

It’s easy to get your hands on a bagel from Spread Bagelry, which has locations in Bryn Mawr and Wayne, along South Street, in Rittenhouse Square, and more. But these bagels, which get boiled in honey before roasting in a wood oven, are something different altogether — softer, breadier, sweeter — and are Montreal-style (thanks to the honey) at their core (though they’re shaped more like a New York bagel, which is fatter than its Canadian cousin). You can get a low-key bagel with cream cheese or go all-in with a brisket bagel sandwich.

📍Multiple locations, 🌐 spreadbagelry.com, 📷 @spreadbagelry

Philly Bagels

Not to be confused with Philly Style Bagels, Philly Bagels was one of the city’s first spots for good bagels (you may remember the neon “hot bagels” sign in the storefront of their South Street shop). Today, they have four locations: South Street Philly Bagels, Fitzwater Street Philly Bagels, Passyunk Avenue Philly Bagels, and JFK Boulevard Philly Bagels, all of which sell the traditional New York-style bagels, which are boiled then baked on “burlap-covered wooden boards,” according to its website. Philly Bagels remains a staple in the local breakfast scene and is popular among those looking for an unfussy bagel.

📍Multiple locations, 🌐 southstphillybagel.com, 📷 @spreadbagelry

Philly Style Bagels

Fishtown favorite Philly Style Bagels recently expanded to Old City with a shop that serves the same long-dough-fermented bagels as its Fishtown sibling. The bagels at both locations have a crunch and dense chew, along with a malty sweetness thanks to a boil in a local beer. You can order yourself individual bagels and packages of cream cheese, or go for a bagel sandwich (classic lox, egg and cheese, and more).

📍1451 E. Columbia Ave. and 218 Arch St., 🌐 phillystylebagels.com, 📷 @phillystylebagels

The Bagel Place

Tucked away in Queen Village you’ll find The Bagel Place, an unassuming storefront with plenty of seating for a quick breakfast and an online ordering system for take-out bagels. Bagels come in all of the classic options, along with pretzel (a customer favorite), blueberry, rosemary and cracked pepper, and French toast. The bagels are water-boiled and hand-rolled, and the spreads (including the unique sour pickle spread) and sweet baked goods are homemade.

📍404 Queen St., 🌐 thebagelplace.com, 📷 @the.bagel.place

The Original Bagel

Fifth-generation bagel master Michael Leibowitz carries on the bagel-making tradition from his father, Melvin, who launched what is believed to be Philly’s first traditional bagel bakery (where the bagels are dropped in boiling water before baking), New York Bagels (now owned by someone else) in 1965. The classic bagel at Leibowitz’s Broomall shop is simple with all of the qualities you look for in a New York-style bagel — doughy and delicious.

📍2914 West Chester Pike, Broomall, 🌐 originalbagel.com, 📷 @theoriginalbagel.inc

Vanilya

Owner Bonnie Sarana grew up eating New York bagels. And when she opened her bakery on East Passyunk Avenue, she began creating bagels similar to the ones she grew up with. The bagels at Vanilya are dense yet chewy with a nice outside crust. The top-selling bagel is the shop’s za’atar bagel, which gets its flavor from the Middle Eastern spice. You can order your bagel with schmear (veggie, plain, jalapeño, cucumber dill, and more) or in sandwiches like lox and egg salad.

📍1611 E. Passyunk Ave., 🌐 vanilyabakery.com, 📷 @vanilya_baker

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What makes something the best? Our recommendations are based on our reporters' deep regional knowledge and advice from local experts. We also strive to represent the geographic and cultural diversity of the city and region. Spot an error or omission? Email us at phillytips@inquirer.com