New York Bagels vs Montreal Bagels: Friends or Foes?

NYC and Montreal bagels each have their own unique style and flavor. Read more in this test by Mayssam Samaha.
By Mayssam Samaha

new york versus montreal bagels
New York bagels versus Montreal bagels

There have been quite a few articles debating the differences between New York bagels and Montreal bagels. I’m sure there have also even been quite a few fights and arguments debating both sides of this most-important issue. This, however, is not one of those articles.

This article will simply pin these 2 magnificent players against each other by merely stating the hard evidence and seeing how they each fare.

NEW YORK BAGEL (from H&H Midtown Bagels East at 1551 2nd Avenue)

Diameter: 4”
Circumference: 12 ½”
Size of Hole: Approximately 1” across
Thickness: Almost 1 ½”
Weight: 4 oz.
Variety: 19

  • Plain
  • Poppy
  • Sesame
  • Cinnamon Raisin
  • Everything
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pumpernickel
  • Egg
  • Whole Wheat
  • Whole Wheat Sesame
  • Whole Wheat Everything
  • Multi-Grain
  • Multi-Grain Sesame
  • Bialy
  • Blueberry
  • Mini Bagels
  • Bagel Flats

Texture and taste: Crispy outside, very chewy inside, salty
Color tone: Light to dark beige
Most popular flavor: Sesame
Price: US$1.20

New York bagels versus Montreal bagels
New York bagels versus Montreal bagels

MONTREAL BAGEL (from Fairmount Bagel, 74 Fairmount West)

Diameter: 4”
Circumference: 12 ½”
Size of Hole: Approximately 1 ¾” across
Thickness: Almost 1 ¼”
Weight: 2.7 Oz
Variety: 20

  • Plain
  • Poppy
  • Sesame
  • Whole wheat
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • “Power”
  • Pumpernickel
  • Multi-Grain
  • Cumin
  • All dressed
  • Blueberry
  • Cinnamon raisin
  • Bozo
  • Sweet
  • Muesli
  • Flax seed
  • Chocolate
  • Bagel chips
  • New York Style

Texture and taste: Crispy outside, dense and airy inside, sweet (from the water and honey bath they’re dunked in before baking)
Color tone: Light to dark beige with darker spots (from the traditional wood-burning oven they’re baked in)
Most popular flavor: Sesame
Price: CAN $0.75

As you can see, the most significant differences are the weight, the size of the hole and the price.

I like to consider myself an adoptive New Yorker for the love I have for that city and for having lived there for a few years. I remember biting into my first bagel shortly after landing in the big apple. It was a cinnamon-raisin bagel with cream cheese and I thought it was the greatest invention since sliced bread! It became my favorite lunch when I was a college student in the city. A few years later, I moved to Montreal and tasted a Montreal bagel. It was also a cinnamon-raisin one (my favorite back then) but it was so different from its New York cousin. And that brings me to the point I’d like to make. The 2 bagels are so completely different that they should not be compared at all but savored for what they each are. If you like your bagel saltier, chewier and more filling overall, then the New York bagel is the best choice for you. However, if you prefer a crunchier, sweeter, denser yet overall less filling bagel, then the Montreal bagel is definitely on the menu for you.

It is worth noting that you can have a New York-style bagel in Montreal at Fairmount Bagel and a Montreal-style bagel in New York at B&B Empire Café or Mile End deli both in Brooklyn – just in case you’re so inclined to taste test them yourself…

I would like to thank my New York-based acolyte for his invaluable help on this project.

Mayssam Samaha

Mayssam Samaha

Born and raised in Lebanon, Mayssam lived in New York City before finally settling on Montreal as her home. She is constantly roaming her great epicurean city - and the planet! - for delicious culinary discoveries. From Michelin-starred restaurants halfway across the planet to the latest hole-in-the-wall down the street, Mayssam doesn't discriminate and wants to taste it all!

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