Every now and then I get it—the intense craving for that blister-boiled outer crust bursting with soft, chewy, starchy bliss. Yes. I recently had a bagel day. I had to have that goddamn bagel and I had to have it as soon as possible. Living in the DC area, bagel cravings can make for difficult days. There was one a time when I was single and footloose—When I need a bagel it was time to head north for a quick NYC trip. And yes, I’ve traveled 4 hours to NYC to pick up bagels. Those days are long gone so I search for the best local bagel eatery around.
So far, the best I’ve found is Goldberg’s Bagels. Goldberg’s is a proper bagel. I received my bagel education by watching bagels being made from scratch at the now (RIP) closed H&H Bagels in Manhattan. I used frequent their Upper East Side location with every visit to the Big Apple. Every bagel has a few essential elements: The dough has spent a few days in the fridge. It’s risen properly. It’s kettle-boiled (the most essential part), placed in cold water, and then baked. Bagels are laborious. And when prepared with any other method, they are not bagels. They are imposters and one can immediately tell by texture and taste—usually even by appearance.
Goldberg’s bagels are made using traditional methods. They are fresh and offer the right mix of simplicity. The outer crust is a solid, mildly tough texture. The inner crust is soft –neither cake-like or doughy (signs of bad bagels). No, it’s more like a brioche without the buttery finish.
So, that’s it—the only proper bagels I’ve really found in DC are Goldberg’s. One doesn’t go to Goldberg’s for the ambiance, the surly staff who clearly prioritize their Jewish clientele over others, or their terrible sandwich menu and bad coffee. It’s not a place I recommend dining in. I can’t speak highly of their cream cheese or lox—only the bagel. It’s the place you go to as a stop-off from 495 to get your bagel and take home, and my 3.5 year old likes that they have a chocolate chip bagel. I go for the everything seed or onion bagel.