Where to Eat Bagels in Philadelphia

All our favorite bagel shops in the city to pick up a quick breakfast or a baker's dozen.

Kismet Bagels / Photograph courtesy of Kismet Bagels

While debates still rage about whether a Philadelphia-made bagel can ever truly compete with its New York carbohydrate kin, it’s undeniable that our city has experienced something of a bagel renaissance in recent years. We’ve got boutique bakeries adding limited weekly runs of bagels to their menus or amping up their rounds with unique ingredients. There’s a whole generation of bagel shops that opened during the city’s bagel boom of the 2010s, and longtime bakeries passing on family traditions, plus a handful of excellent pop-ups to keep your eye on. The next time you’re looking for nova with the works, an egg and cheese, or just some classic schmear, turn to one of these fantastic bagel spots.

Kismet Bagels, Fishtown, Rittenhouse, Market East and Lower Merion
Jacob and Alexandra Cohen’s bagel operation was born in the early days of the pandemic, when baking was all the rage. Now, in an evolution that has happened shockingly fast, they’ve opened brick-and-mortars in Fishtown and Rittenhouse where they’re doing bagels by the dozen, sandwiches, and inventive and classic types of cream cheese. The duo also launched a bialy counter in Reading Terminal Market, just debuted a sit-down luncheonette in Narberth, and vends at a bunch of area farmers’ markets. These bagels are petite and plump, with webby, glutenous insides and a fully covered hairdo of everything spice.

Essen BakeryEast Passyunk and Fishtown (coming soon)
Tova du Plessis’ tiny Jewish bakery has a lot going for it — the black-and-white cookies and challah are must-try items — and her bagels, made daily, are no exception. These chewy, generously flavored rounds are best topped with cream cheese, lox, capers, tomato, and onions, spread with house-made veggie schmear, or bagged and brought home for private consumption. A second location will open in Fishtown soon.

Bart’s BagelsWest Philly 
Every self-respecting bagel shop has a lox sandwich on the menu, but Bart’s takes it up a notch with the Uncle Leo, a specialty sandwich filled with nova lox, a fried egg, caramelized onion and scallion cream cheese.

A variety of bagels from West Philly’s Cleo Bagels / Photography courtesy of Cleo Bagels

Cleo Bagels, West Philly 
Alex Malamy’s Dodo Bagels pop-up in West Philadelphia earned a following for his unexpected flavor combinations. Now called Cleo Bagels with a brick-and-mortar in West Philly, these malt-boiled, hearth-baked bagels are available five days a week. You’ll still find unique creations like The French Thing, a bagel speckled with lavender, fennel, thyme, sesame and salt, and the best-selling Ramen Thing, which stacks up a marinated egg, pickled ginger, bamboo shoots, scallions, dried seaweed, ground sesame and spicy mayonnaise.

Knead Bagels, Washington Square West
A neighborhood mainstay that offers fancy seasoning on its bagels, plus a variety of bagel sandwiches — try one topped with corned beef and Russian dressing. Togarashi-spiced bagels bring just the right amount of heat and flavor, but you won’t go wrong with za’atar, black sesame or fennel seed and sea salt.

K’far Cafe, Rittenhouse
K’far makes long, oval-shaped Jerusalem bagels. They’re fully shellacked in crispy sesame seeds and served as sandwiches. The best one is the simplest: the egg sandwich, which smooshes together fluffy scrambled eggs, a layer of Cooper sharp, a za’atar sprinkle and a swoosh of herby schug.

Schmear ItUniversity City and Center City
Schmear It started out as a roving food truck, but they’ve now added brick-and-mortar locations in University City and Center City. They’re known for their customizable schmear options, which allow guests to choose between tons of base spreads and mix-ins. There’s something for everyone, whether you want to try a sweet special, like the recent cinnamon roll — butter, cinnamon, walnuts and brown sugar — or go classic with an everything bagel with plain cream cheese.

best bagels philadelphia fishtown

Photograph courtesy of Philly Style Bagels

Philly Style BagelsFishtown and Old City
Collin Shapiro and Jonathan Zilber incubated their concept — an original bagel for Philly, boiled in Yards ESA and crusted in sesame, poppy seeds, or everything spice on the bottom and the top — at Pizzeria Beddia in 2015; they scored a Best of Philly that same year. The shop still makes some of the chewiest and softest bagels you’ll find, and rich cream cheese with a pleasant tang.

Philly BagelsQueen Village, Center City, East Passyunk, and Graduate Hospital
Since 1996, the Wagner family has been hand-forming New York-style bagels and selling them from a few locations around town. Recently, Schmear It owner David Fine bought Philly Bagels and plans to merge the businesses at some point down the road. For now, these classic shops are the place to go for bagel sandwiches and bagels by the dozen with standard or unique cream cheese flavors, like cheddar horseradish or birthday cake.

New York Bagel Bakery, West Philly
A no-frills, carry-out shop turning out some of the best bagels in the city — the perfect combination of chewy-yet-tender on the inside, with a pleasantly crusty texture outside. They make their own spreads, like whitefish salad and hummus, in-house, too.

best bagels philadelphia

Photograph courtesy of Vanilya Bakery

Vanilya BakeryEast Passyunk
This boutique bakery specializes in intricate, show-stopping cakes and other sweet treats, but they turn out Best of Philly-worthy bagels, too. Get one as a sandwich topped with roasted red peppers, harissa, and slices of creamy Brie.

Four Worlds BakeryCedar Park
These sourdough bagels, heavy on the seedy toppings, are some of our favorites made west of the river. While not strictly traditional, owner Michael Dolich’s recipe packs a ton of funk and rise while still keeping the bagels pleasantly dense and chewy.

The Bagel Place, Queen Village
This Queen Village bagel spot does bialys and sweet baked goods in addition to a long list of bagel flavors, including pretzel (genius!) and French toast, which you can get with cream cheese in flavors like lemon poppyseed, sour pickle, blue cheese and rosemary, or apple cinnamon.

best bagels philadelphia northern liberties nolibs

Photograph courtesy of Kettle Black

Kettle Black, Northern Liberties
Everything we’ve had at Kettle Black, from the loaves to the croissants, has tasted delicious — but it’s their pitch-black bagels spiked with activated charcoal that are even more stunning to look at (and helped scored this bakery a Best of Philly in 2018).

Spread Bagelry, multiple locations
These Montreal-style bagels — distinguished by the honey water in which they’re boiled before being baked in a custom-built brick wood-fired oven — are available in classic flavors, plus a few harder-to-find varieties like whole wheat everything and chocolate chip. They’ve also expanded significantly in the last few years, bringing their bagels to South Street, Bryn Mawr and beyond.

Sweet Brew Cafe, Phoenixville
If Philly bagels just won’t cut it, this suburban cafe serves the real New York version that owner Mike Weiss grew up eating. They get a daily delivery from Long Island. Try a classic everything with scallion cream cheese or a jalapeño red pepper bagel with jalapeño cheddar cream cheese to give your morning a kick.