By: Sarah Boha
As a former resident of the Big Apple, I’m ruined when it comes to food. New York City, and yes, I’m biased, is the epicurean epicenter of America; think about it, the city that never sleeps has the entire spectrum of authentic cuisine, Chinese, Jamaican, Pizza and of course a good ole’ bagel. When I moved to State College, Pennsylvania in 2005, I needed to acclimate my New York stomach fast. Over the years, I have dined at many concessions in the State College and surrounding area in hopes that I would find the closest taste to my former home within the five boroughs. It has been a daunting search in my foodie pilgrimage but as a New Yorker, I’m resourceful and up for the adventure. One of my favorite New York delicacies is a good bagel. There’s nothing quite like a real New York bagel and it’s one of the foods I missed most when I left the city. If you’re a fellow New Yorker in the Central Pennsylvania area, foodie, carb enthusiast, this guide is for you. I narrowed my search down to four establishments in the State College area, some of which are national chains that you can patronize anywhere in the United States, but choices were limited. Here is a New Yorker’s guide to bagels in Centre County, Pennsylvania
First, the Ground Rules
From each store, I selected their plain bagel to keep the playing field fair and balanced.
Upon taste testing each, I did not toast the bagels, (real bagels stand on their own without the help of a thorough toasting).
I tried a sample of the bagels on their own (no condiment), one sample with a smear of Kerrygold butta (that’s butter, New York City pronunciation) and one sample with a dollop of Philadelphia cream cheese.
A self-proclaimed “NY Style Bagel Shop” located on 332 East Calder Way in Downtown State College, PA.
When I first heard about ‘Bagel Crust’, a New York style bagel shop right here in State College, I got excited. When I took a bite into their plain bagel, I almost started singing “These vagabond shoes”; these bagels are the closest to the empire state for me. Soft texture, delicious taste and the crust is the perfect balance of crustiness. This should be your first resort in the area before you jump in your car and drive to concrete jungle to stock up on bagels.
*Other great bagel flavors from Bagel Crust – Everything
Along North Atherton, 345 Colonnade Boulevard, State College, PA
Wegmans, based out of Rochester New York, makes a darn good bagel. With an amazing crust and soft texture inside, I can taste a New York influence.
*Other great bagel flavors from Wegmans – Jalapeño Cheddar and Pretzel
Panera Bread on 1613 North Atherton Street, State College, PA
Panera Bread has a reasonably good bagel if you’re in the mood for bagels and you’re sitting in a Panera Bread. Buttery crust, all around decent bagel.
*Other great bagel flavors from Panera Bread – Cinnamon Crunch (Amazing!)
Weis Markets on 1471 Martin Street, State College, PA
Your basic bagel. A good attempt by Weis, it doesn’t quite have the texture or crust that I seek in a New York bagel, but it will do in a Pennsylvania pinch.
*Other great bagel flavors from Weis – Asiago Cheese
If you’re planning a trip to New York City and want to try a genuine New York bagel, hop in your car, it’s a 4.5 hour trip depending on how fast you drive, and visit the following,
Dyker Park Bagels, 713 86th Street, Brooklyn, NY
Black Seed Bagels, 170 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY
Hot Bialys & Bagels, 116-63 Queens Boulevard, Queens, NY
As a disclaimer, this is my opinion and experience coming from NYC. I would love to hear thoughts of where you indulge in your favorite bagel in Centre County, PA and if I missed a good bagel spot, let me know in the comments section.