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Bagel with Nova and Cream Cheese - Daryl's Favorite Ess-a-Bagel New York

Ess-a-Bagel and the Origin of 2foodtrippers

In NYC, Restaurants by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch22 Comments

Every couple has an origin story. Ours involves an Oscar party, a walk home and a conversation about bagels at Ess-a-Bagel in NYC.

Everything Bagels at Ess-a-Bagel New York City

Everything Bagels at Ess-a-Bagel in New York City

We met at an Oscars party in Philadelphia in March of 2006. Neither of us was expecting anything out of the party other than a pleasant evening. However, Mindi won the $60 pool, buoyed by her selection of Crash to win best picture. And Daryl won Mindi’s heart when he walked her home after the party.

That walk was filled with typical get-to-know-you conversation, including our favorite New York bagel shops. Mindi shared fond memories of the Pick a Bagel near her former upper east side apartment, and Daryl raved about the original Ess-a-Bagel on First Avenue as his favorite. He had frequented the shop when his brother Lou lived around the corner in a basement apartment at the Gramercy Row building on 22nd Street and continued to eat there whenever he was in the city for business or pleasure.

Daryl ended the walk with a kiss that was intended for the cheek but somehow ended up on the mouth. We had our first date five nights later at a cozy BYOB called Little Fish and were engaged in Central Park that November after a memorable dinner at Veritas.

Fast Forward to the Present

The 2foodtrippers are going strong, both as a couple and as a writing/traveling/eating team. However, a lot has changed around us. The couple who hosted the infamous Oscars party is divorcing. Little Fish, where we had our first date, has relocated to a different location. Veritas, where we had our engagement dinner, is closed. And now, the original Ess-a Bagel shop is closing after 39 years due to the landlord’s desire for higher rent.

Original Ess-a-Bagel Shop on First Avenue in New York City

Original Ess-a-Bagel Shop on First Avenue in New York City

The End of an Era

Our love for bagels has continued since we met in 2006. We’ve eaten bagels in Philadelphia. We’ve eaten bagels in Montreal. We’ve eaten bagels at different shops in New York. But our favorite bagels have been at the Ess-a-Bagel on First Avenue.

Ess-a-Bagels have everything that makes New York bagels great. Airy insides can be nice in a baguette, but in a bagel they’re deadly. Essa’s bagel insides are perfectly dense with a slightly crunchy, thick crust. You can taste all 39 years of bagel production in the big doughy morsels that provide a perfect platform for the shop’s house-made cream cheeses and varieties of smoked fish.

The recent news that the original Ess-a-Bagel location is closing made us feel sentimental and hungry for one last bagel. As luck would have it, we were headed up to New York City for the MLK holiday weekend. Of course, a visit to Ess-a-Bagel would be in order.

Inside Ess-a-Bagel New York

Inside Ess-a-Bagel – Note the Name on the Water Bottle.

Last Meal at Ess-a-Bagel

For our last meal at Ess-a-Bagel, we waited in an especially long line on the rainy Sunday after the impending closure was announced. The crowd was pragmatic about the situation, and the intricately spiraling line moved at a typical New York pace.

Ess-a-Bagel Menu New York

Ess-a-Bagel Menu

Although we discussed what to order while in line, we each ordered our tried and true favorites – an everything bagel with nova and cream cheese for Daryl and an everything bagel with house-made whitefish salad and a tomato slice for Mindi.

Bagel with Nova and Cream Cheese - Daryl's Favorite Ess-a-Bagel New York

Bagel with Nova and Cream Cheese – Daryl’s Favorite

Bagel with Whitefish Salad - Mindi's Favorite Ess-a-Bagel New York

Bagel with Whitefish Salad – Mindi’s Favorite

As we sat in the small, quirky shop with its stained ceiling tiles and out-of-place chandeliers, we reminisced about the past and how things around us continue to change. Change is inevitable in life, but it can be difficult to accept. The closure of a bagel shop isn’t the end of the world. Ess-a-Bagel will likely reopen in a nearby location. There are other great bagel shops like Murray’s and Pick a Bagel where we can easily satisfy our bagel cravings. Yet, still, we can’t help but be melancholy about changes around us that are out of our control.

Daryl Enjoying One Last Bagel at the Original Ess-a-Bagel New York

Daryl Enjoying One Last Bagel at the Original Ess-a-Bagel

Then again, there are lots of positive changes, and we couldn’t be happier as a couple. We’ll roll with the changes – plus a half-dozen bagels for the road.

Ess-a-Bagel has relocated across the street. The new address is 324 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10010, United States.


Hungry for more? Check out where we ate during our most recent New York City Quickie weekend. 


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Comments

  1. I saw you guys check in there the other day, but I had no idea they were closing! I have not been there yet, but now I need to go before they are gone forever!

  2. What a shame that all those places which have a sentimental significance to your love story have closed or relocated and now this one too. I can understand why you went for one last hurrah bagel – they look so delicious! I haven’t had a bagel in years! I used to get them for lunch with my first boyfriend when we were in college. I hope Ess-a-Bagel open up in a different location so you can continue to have their yumminess on a regular basis!

  3. That’s so sad that they are closing. Lots of sentimental value for you both and it would be sad to see that go, BUT the buildings will still be there, so that is a plus. Although it won’t be the same. Is Essa Bagel opening in another location? Or is there any other locations around? I know, still not the same but I would be so sad and want to start new memories at another location if I could! I’ve never had bagels from an actual bagel place, or bakery…. So I’m thinking I should, think I may be missing out on something great. Although I am not sure theres an Essa in Toronto!

    1. Author

      Yes, Ess-a-Bagel is moving, but we don’t know where yet. Hopefully, the bagels will be as good even if the experience is slightly different. Also, if you haven’t already, you should check out the St. Lawrence Market for Montreal bagels. We saw them there when we were in Toronto a couple years ago. Although they’re not New York bagels, Montreal bagels are really good too.

  4. I adore Ess-a-bagel! I cannot believe they are closing! How sad. What a wonderful post. So great to hear about the origins of 2foodtrippers!

  5. I agree! This is one of my favorite places to get a bagel as well. I was sad to hear that this place is closing down as well. I have fond memories of eating at this place after I went clubbing and needed something quick to fill my stomach up. I’m going down there today, so I can have my last bagel with house cream cheese.

  6. I love how you met! Sometimes the best things come along when what you are hoping for is “just a nice evening.” 🙂 Ess-a-bagel sounds like it was a neat place. Fond memories and one great last bagel! What a bummer, they closed, but what great memories you have moving forward!

  7. Darryl and Mindi it’s always a sad day when such a fab bagel store closes! We miss bagels – or REALLY good ones – the most when traveling the world. Me and my wife Kelli grew up in NJ so we’re accustomed to NYC-NJ bagel shops. In places like Bali these are tough to find lol. We enjoyed a few awesome bagels a few weeks back in NYC at a local shop in the Lower East Side. I hope you’re enjoying your last half dozen 😉

    Thanks for the tasty read and imagery!

    Ryan

    1. Author

      There’s nothing like a New York bagel. We must admit that only five of the bagels made it home. One somehow got eaten in the hotel room.

  8. Yummy! I really love bagels! Being from NYC, I’ve got to say we have amazing bagels here. Yours looks pretty good too! I love them so much! They’re really great for any time of the day, from breakfast to lunch to dinner! 😉 Thanks for sharing

  9. What a great read. I always love hearing about the stories behind things. I am sorry to hear that the store is closing though. That has to be a huge dissapointment because it is a symbol.

  10. This was an awesome post to read, thanks for sharing your story and the history behind your meeting. I love reading stores and histories of relationships. This place looks awesome, I would love something like this around our area. I am sad to hear that they will be closing, I know that is tough for you all to take in as well.

  11. It sounds like the end of an era – a new day is dawning! I’m so sorry that your most memorable places are closing; but remember, when one door closes another one should open. I loved reading the story of your relationship, and your bagels too – we don’t have bagels so much in England so I’d have loved to try them!

  12. Really no fair guys! Eric just yesterday was saying how much he would love a bagel, but we are in Bangkok. I am sure we can find one, but it won’t be as good. I was also just reading Gaffigan’s Food: A Love Story and his chapter about the everything bagel. My favorite, and here you are showing fab photos of everything bagels. No fair!!

    1. Author

      There’s nothing like a New York bagel. However, we could totally go for some pad thai and a fruit shake, which you can get all over Bangkok.

  13. Love this! You will always have the bagel memories and there will be more bagels along the way. I love them too, but only the freshly baked ones (not the supermarket rubbish!)

  14. it’s always a shame when places close down and it seems like nowadays a lot of places don’t stay open for very long 🙁

  15. Thanks for sharing your love story. I’ve only had the privilege of visiting New York once, but I think I need to come back just for the food alone. Those look amazing!

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