Everything You’ve Heard About Korshak Bagels Is True
Korshak’s bagels aren’t New York bagels or L.A. bagels or Montreal bagels. They’re South Philly bagels. And that's a big deal.
Philip Korshak writes a lot of poems.
On Mondays, he’ll often scribble one down in Sharpie marker on a brown paper bag and tape it to the glass at his South Philly bagel shop — poems about love and loss, the cold, ice, dreams and yeast. He does it as a way to communicate with his neighbors when he’s not around. To stay in their thoughts. Also, the poems look pretty good posted on his Korshak Bagels Instagram feed — alongside hand-drawn comics, SOLD OUT signs written in big bubble letters, and glamour shots of bagels upon bagels upon bagels.
Because, oh yeah, Korshak makes bagels, too. Beautiful bagels that are unlike any conception you have of what a good bagel is supposed to taste like.
Korshak’s bagels aren’t New York bagels or L.A. bagels or Brooklyn bagels or Montreal bagels. They’re their own thing. South Philly bagels — thick-skinned, but soft on the inside. Chewy when you bite them. Gorgeous when they’re toasted just a little. Born in Houston, Korshak did 10 years living in Brooklyn. He was an English major, a master’s student. He got to know bagels in NYC, missed them when he went back to Texas, taught himself to make them in Austin (of all places), then came to Philly with his recipe for these strange, soft sourdough-hearted bagels, with their 48-hour rise and hand-crafted, small-batch pedigree.
The salt bagel is perfect, the skin just speckled (not crusted) with a handful of salt crystals — the kind of thing that makes you hungrier the more you eat. He does plain, cinnamon raisin, everything — all the greatest hits. His fancies are more complex. French toast with maple butter. Cooper sharp with long hots. I’ve never managed to get my hands on one of his malted pumpernickel bagels, but if you’ve got one, I’m willing to trade.
There’s lox, of course. Pastrami smoked salmon. Really good butter. And the schmears? Hot damn. The Lady Bunny is made with carrots and walnuts, cinnamon, raisins soaked in goat milk; the Blue Angel, with zested lemon and blueberry compote. The Clem is famous, crafted from roasted and fresh clementines, Sichuan peppercorns, whipped dates and salt. Even the plain (never plain) “Korshak Schmear” is juiced with goat milk and mozzarella brine, whipped up like a cloud, creamy at the end, almost sweet.
There are no seats at Korshak. No delivery. Just a pickup window on 10th Street, long lines on the weekend, sunny yellow walls, and a narrow space inside for walk-ups. You can order online, in advance, or roll up and take your chances with what’s left.
But there are no wrong choices. Philip Korshak has made magic here.
And I’ll gladly take whatever South Philly’s bagel poet hands me, any day of the week.
3 Stars — Come from anywhere in the region
0 stars: stay away
★: come if you have no other options
★★: come if you’re in the neighborhood
★★★: come from anywhere in the region
★★★★: come from anywhere in the country
Published as “Bagel Poet” in the March 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.