Sunday Brunch: Tompkins Square Bagels


By Dane Feldman

Photo by Dane Feldman.

In New York, Sunday Brunch doesn’t have to mean a sit-down bottomless mimosa endeavor. In fact, finding a solid bagel spot is arguably more important than finding a great brunch restaurant. Enter Tompkins Square Bagels on Avenue A and 11th Street, one of the most popular bagel joints in Manhattan. It boasts a 4.6-star rating on Google and the line on a warm Sunday morning is particularly lengthy.

The food
Tompkins Square Bagels has become famous borough-wide for its wacky cream cheeses. From wasabi to apple cinnamon to espresso to chipotle avocado, TSB has a cream cheese for everyone. Their most popular is likely the birthday cake cream cheese, but folks looking for more savory can also find jalapeno cheddar, bacon herb, and olive pimento.

Patrons can also choose from a lengthy list of specialty sandwiches that are so impressive it’s easy to forget altogether that birthday cake cream cheese is an option. I forgot and ordered the Weezer: bacon, chorizo, egg, cheddar, and any cream cheese (I chose plain) on any bagel (I chose pumpernickel).

As it turns out, I’m glad I forgot about the birthday cake cream cheese. This breakfast sandwich was the most delectable I’ve ever had. The bagels are solid, not out of this world like some others in Manhattan, but TSB is all about using that bagel as a vehicle for fantastic flavor combinations.

TSB also serves more traditional breakfast sandwiches like the bacon, egg, and cheese, as well as pancakes, omelettes, French toast, and baked goods.

The drinks
Tompkins Square Bagels serves a wide variety of coffee and tea, juice, kombucha, and soft drinks. I had an iced coffee and the coffee was of medium strength. My only complaint as an avid consumer of Splenda is that I was forced to choose between Sweet’N Low and Equal.

The service/ambience
Despite the long lines, TSB’s staff does a great job keeping operations in order. Patrons must order in one spot and then pay before the food can be claimed. This way, chaos can be kept to a minimum and once someone’s food is ready, they can simply head to the back to eat at one of the tables or leave to eat elsewhere.

The great part about TSB is that, even though it’s a busy spot, the staff remains overly friendly and patient with first-time patrons. This was a huge selling point for me because I’ve been in some of the other tremendously popular bagel joints in the city–namely the recently shut down Ess-A-Bagel–and have felt far more like just another number in line at a deli counter.

All in all, Tompkins Square Bagels is well worth the trek, the wait, and the hype. The food is solid and fun, the service is good, and the Instagrams are beautiful.