By J.D. Herman

Ask a New Yorker where to get the best bagel in town and you will get a myriad of replies. Ask a Houstonian the same question, and the answer is always the same: The New York Bagel Shop. And for good reason, as the bagel game at this beloved jewel is strong. These are real bagels–boiled then baked– and they’ve got all the best hits (and some unexpectedly welcome b-sides) in rotation: plain, sesame, poppy, garlic, onion, ET(Every Topping), bialy, black and white, rye, whole wheat, oat bran, pumpernickel, sun-dried tomato, cinnamon raisin, blueberry, banana nut, cranberry nut, chocolate, and of course, the requisite jalapeño. If you could only pick one to try, make it the jalepeño! At $11.50 a baker’s dozen, your potluck weekend brunch is taken care of with one-stop-shopping that offers cream cheese, butter, and smoked fish selections for carry-out.

Opened in 1975, this family-owned bakery sits just on the edge of the Brays Oaks Management District, a few blocks south of Braeswood Blvd. on Hillcroft, and has served the community for over 40 years. Attached to the bagel shop is the old-school New York Diner which came later, opening in 1981, and is a true homage to its namesake. Stepping inside, one is instantly transported into a “New York” state-of-mind. The hustle and bustle of wait staff, clanking of dishes, the sizzle of bacon, pink leather booths, and shouts of, “order up!” all carry you to NYC. Come here for authentic diner-fare: matzo ball soup, Dr. Brown’s soda (Cel-ray and Black Cherry), challah french toast, lox, and kosher meats. Still not sold? Just ask any homesick New Yorker (like my wife) and they will tell you there is nothing a plate of potato pancakes covered in sour cream and applesauce can’t fix.

Weekend brunch here can be jam packed. You may have a bit of a wait but it will definitely be worth the effort. You’ll see whole families on the sidewalk waiting patiently for a booth to become available. A hack for the busy mornings or weekends is to consider grabbing a stool at their counter seating. The old-style counter seating is a great way to slip in during high traffic times, and shoot, you may just meet some great new folks in the process.

My standard for breakfast or lunch when I visit the diner is the “Two-eggs any style” plate. Served up with their famous home fries and toast, it is comfort food with a capital C! The coffee is always hot and refills come on the regular, so don’t hesitate to caffeinate.

Truly, the food is fantastic and they really do have the best bagels – not just in the Brays Oaks Management District – but in Houston proper. Enjoy!

The New York Bagel Shop and New York Diner open at 6am every day of the week. The bakery closes at 3pm on Monday and 5pm on TuesdayFriday, and 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant closes at 3pm on Monday, and 3:30 pm TuesdaySunday.