Downtown Lunch: Leo's Bagels
Midtown workers shouldn’t have all the fun, so to even the score, I’ve brought on Daniel Krieger as an official Downtown Lunch Correspondent to write up some of the tasty stuff you can get in the lower half of Manhattan. He’s a great photographer (ensuring good food porn), but more importantly he is a lover of cheap, unique and delicious eats (or as I like to call it- Midtown Lunch’ish food.)
“Boychick! Come here bubbalah! What can I get you? Oh that’s it? Come on that’s not enough for a hungry growing boy like you!”
Ahhhhhhhh I wish that’s how they greeted me when I stepped up to order my lunch at Leo’s bagels, but alas it was your typical anywhere in NYC lunch line of, “who’s next?” My granny gran was no where to be found behind the counter. I expected someone with an attitude, especially since I already had seen a menu which proclaimed Leo’s to be “Bagels with Chutzpah”.
Do what I did and try one of the 4 specialty sandwiches under $9, which includes cole slaw and a pickle. The sandwiches have great names like The Aunt Rebecca, Benny’s Club, or my choice, the Catskills ($8.25). Holding a half in the palm of your hand is close to the size of a regular deli sandwich. They’re all big time gut grenades and worth the extra dollar you might save lunching at a nearby run-of-the-mill lunch joint, where solemn faces churn out processed cold cuts and crappy pressed paninis.
Leo’s gets it right with homemade turkey, the real kind! So what if it’s a little bit dry, it’s nothing that a little extra mayo, or Russian dressing can’t fix. My Catskills had the homemade turkey, muenster, cole slaw, and Russian dressing on it. Even without toasting the bagel, it had a nice crisp shell and the soft doughy interior molded around the turkey perfectly, like my butt on a recliner (I like the old school ones with the wooden handle that you pull back and the feet pop up).
Leo’s bagels recently opened on Stone Street in Hanover Square, and offers plump, hand rolled bagels at $1 each. Or if you buy the “brokers dozen” you get 14 for the price of 12. They also specialize in smoked fish, carrying 13 different kinds. One of the workers there was nice enough to let me taste a piece, which was deliciously salty and would have been utterly splendid atop a toasted bagel with some tomato and red onion (one of my favorite meals on earth).
They do have a nice sounding sandwich called the Leo, which is lox, eggs, and onions on a bagel ($7.75)… a tempting reason to give it another try.
Nothing is cheap there, but when you’re the only game in town making real hand rolled bagels below Canal Street, you don’t really have to be. Maybe that’s what they meant by “Chutzpah” though, because charging 11.25 for a prosciutto & fresh mozz on a bagel, you really need to have some.
Leo’s Bagels, 3 Hanover Square (at Stone St.), 212-785-4700
Photos and post by www.danielkrieger.com