Flatiron Lunch: The Whitefish and Bagel Hunt Brings Us Out-Of-Bounds

Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.

Despite some complaints from FL’ers about this series, well one Fl’er in particular, the series marches on with a famous (but way out-of-bounds) shop and another centrally located. In case my hunt for the perfect whitefish salad bagel sandwich is boring to you, have no fear, this is the penultimate post.

Don’t be mad at me for picking Ess-a-Bagel which is so far away, blame FL’er pigiron who previously commented, “Two articles about whitefish on a bagel in Flatiron and still not a word about Ess-A-Bagel. At this point, the only possible conclusion is that Midtown Lunch is waging a deliberate vendetta against the greatest bagel store on earth.” But really, it was totally worth the trek to Ess-a-Bagel, I mean there is a reason they are often listed with the best. The bagel was outstanding with the right crust on the outside and the right chew on the inside.

I was interested to see that almost all of the “everythings” were on the bottom of the bagel. Perhaps this is their way of distinguishing themselves from others or maybe it is some sort of tradition. But as someone who eats their bagels, open-faced, one quarter at a time (instead of sandwich style), this type of bagel preparation meant certain bites were way better than others. The whitefish salad was outstanding with not too much mayo.

Ess-a-Bagel, 359 1st Avenue corner of East 21st Street, (212) 260-2252

Despite its name, Bagels & Schmear is really riding the line of being a bagel shop and a deli with a cooler of Boars Head, pancakes, burgers and speciality wraps (on the flip side, this also means you can get an egg and cheese on a bagel, a fact I wish I had known when I worked two blocks from here years ago.)

But their menu claims that all the baking done on premises, so that has to count for something.

When I ordered my whitefish salad on bagel ($6.95), I was asked if I wanted tomato or onion on it, which was something Ess-a-Bagel certainly didn’t do. (I’m not sure if this is a sign of an inferior bagel/salad, but it could be a result of many customers adding toppings to enhance the flavor.) The whitefish salad was serviceable, but was overly mayo-ed.

Bagels & Schmear, 114 East 28th Street btwn Park and Lexington Avenue, (212) 725-7873


  • To my fellow readers: You’re welcome.
    To Sarah: Thank you.
    To Ess-a-Bagel: I miss you so much it hurts.


  • REALLY???? REALLLY???? AGAIN??????

    Whitefish salad was never, is never and will never be destination worthy! SNORE!

  • There’s an Ess a Bagel in Midtown too isn’t there?

    BTW – I”m so happy to hear someone else eats their bagel 1/4 at a time, open faced. I have gotten MANY strange looks for doing that but it’s the best way! However most of my sesame or everything bagels have had all the toppings all on one side (usually the top) as well; do you find yours usually on both sides? Now I’m jealous…

  • Sure hope that’s not Coney Island whitefish.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I love ess-a-bagel, but lately I’ve found Bagel Boss to have better bagels and spreads. They also make great blintzes and AMAZING chocolate babka muffins. I know, I never heard of a babka muffin before either, but it is exactly what it sounds like, a full-on chocolate babka in single-serving muffin form.

    Only problem with bagel boss is they’re dairy kosher, so no egg+cheese+bacon sandwiches. But still, definitely worth a try.

    • User has not uploaded an avatar

      Forgot location, they’re on 1st and 15th. There’s one up in murray hill too, but they charge a delivery fee on seamless so I make them walk way uptown.

  • I’m late to this party, catching up on some recent Flatiron Lunch posts. Thank you for continuing the good work of whitefish and bagel reviews, despite the haters. Bagel & Schmear is where I go Fridays for office bagels, but I never splurge on anything more than lox spread for my co-workers. The staff is nice and the bagels are usually hot, especially on Fridays when 9-9:30am is really high volume.

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