My absolute favorite is Bagel Hole in Park Slope Brooklyn- old school, small, chewy, flavorfull, fresh, REAL NY bagels- not those overstuffed, sugar filled softball sized monstrosoties you find at, say, an H&H. when you order at Bagel Hole, please ask what is hot and get it. i had a PERFECT everything bagel with cream cheese there yesterday- piping hot, barely takes any chewing (you could gum these bagels if you get them hot...), they melt in your mouth. none of the breadlike character of the bad bad bagels of the world- it's a whole different beast!
also good are Ess-A-Bagel, and if you want smoked fish with your bagel, go to Russ and Daughters in the Lower East Side for some of the best smoked fish in the world. Russ is the last family owned Jewish Appetizer spot left in the LES and the good people at Russ hand select every single fish that goes into the case. they have incredible old school belly (salty) lox, many different kinds of Nova, incredible Sturgeon (the turkey of smoked fish), caviars and roes of all varieties and price ranges (my daughter loves the kindly priced trout roe- she has discovered malosall yet...), and great bagel outfits. try my favorite- a pumpernickel bagel with freshly whipped cream cheese, salty lox, red onion, and tomato. oh and russ is making GREAT old school chocolate egg creams these days- if you've never had a real ny chocolate egg cream this is about as close as you'll get these days.
if you want to try Bialies, go around the corner from Russ to Kossar Bialies on Grand (?) also in the LES. but really, Bagel Hole on 7th avenue between 12th and 13th in Park Slope may very well be the king of NYC bagels. enjoy and report back on where you went and how you liked the bagelz! fb