the spot: Tompkins Square Bagels 184 2nd Ave or 165 Ave A NY NY
the eats: Bagel with Lox Deluxe
the bucks: $13
the full nelson: an East Village Bagel Breakfast fix
New York City might have more iconic foods associated with it than any other city I can think of. A good bagel and lox is right up there with a slice of pizza or a thick pub style burger, certainly in my book. Aside from a random yet usually respectable bagel and lox I would find at a decent bodega, my bagel and lox euphoria usually comes by way of the legendary Russ and Daughter’s Appetizer store.
Russ is a legend but fame comes at a price. I usually drop about $13-18 for bagel and lox here(depending on the lox), totally worth it, but in the city 8 of million stories, I think I could expand my search when it comes to some Bang for your Bagel Buck.
More often than not I find myself in the East Village when I’m in NYC, so my first bagel foray beyond Russ and Daughter’s landed me here: Tompkins Square Bagels. A quick google search and you will find Tompkins in the best bagel lists along with Zabar’s, H and H and Murray’s, just to name a few. Kinda like breakfast tacos in Austin, you will find that people have their favs for various reasons. Added bonus for trying Tompkin’s was that I got to nosh with this guy:
Jeremy Jacobwitz is the man behind Brunch Boys, a food focused Instagram account with over 450,000 followers + a YouTube Channel, a TikTok account, and he even started a podcast about wrestling. Jeremy also was a producer on the very first episode of Cheap Eats so we go back and whenever I’m in NYC I holler out to see where he is at. Suffice it to say we eat well together.
Now on to Tompkins’ bagel and lox. Out the gate, if you get your bagel with lox dressed to the 9s(tomato, onion and cream cheese), you are talking a $13 breakfast. Not exactly Cheap Eats but we are in NYC and we are eating smoked salmon. Also this is on the high end of the price point at Tompkins Square Bagels. Ask a regular and they will tell you that the BEC(bacon, egg and cheese) for $8 is some legit Bang for your Bagel Buck and btw: that’s a two egg affair, so consider your hangover cured if you so happen to bring one with you.
After I took down the first half, I could have called it quits and saved the second half for a midday snack. But it’s hard to put a good bagel down. Like bacon, lox is always delicious. The combo of salt, smoke and fat from the smoked salmon, the bite from that raw red onion, the acid from the capers in brine and the tang from cream cheese is just one of the best thing you can put in your mouth. Cradled in a fresh well made bagel and you walk out of Tompkins nice and full, with a palate that has been satisfied.
Yes Tompkins Square Bagels is indeed good, though not as good as Russ and Daughters. If you find yourself in the East Village, I would definitely make a stop for a bagel, though I would stick to a choice like BEC and keep it under $10 if you are looking for some Bang for your Bagel Buck. Added note was that we slipped in there and ate in like 15 minutes whereas Russ usually has a serious line. So if you consider time a currency, Tompkins Square Bagels has an edge there.
I really wish I saved that second half right now.