Leo’s Bagels- Financial District, NYC

Lox & Cream Cheese $11
Wholewheat everything bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato & red onion.

For some reason it’s been a good while since I had a bagel. When I’ve been in the city I just haven’t felt in the mood & locally I’ve exhausted all the choices within a 20 minute walking distance. When you zoom into google maps on Manhattan, Leo’s is always there with that little knife and fork logo, so it’s been on my mental list for a few weeks now. 

After a long day of trailing around the city on a hot Saturday afternoon, we decided it was time for a bagel. ‘We’ being me and my friend Emily who had just arrived back in the USA after travelling. I met her in Thailand in January of this year and she was actually one of the friends I was sat in the cafe with when the idea for this blog came about. I was stoked when she suggested we go get a bagel before catching the Staten Island ferry.

When we walked into Leo’s you could see the guys face drop just a little bit. To be fair to him it was 4.44 pm, he had broom in hand and they were obviously doing the close down. However he greeted us with a radiant smile and then we continued to confuse him with our order for the next 5 minutes. 

Ordering a bagel seems to be quite an art to the uninitiated. If you’ve never had one before or aren’t with someone who can order for you, being at the front of a queue full of hungry New Yorker’s is not the place to learn. For starters, there’s typically at least 10 different types of bagel without going into the various health options, or introducing the flagel- a flat bagel. Then you have the cream cheese, there’s normally a huge list of choices on offer from strawberry to olive to maple to sun-dried tomato. But don’t forget you don’t have to have cream cheese, you could have peanut butter or jelly (jam) or none at all. Do you want it toasted? Do you want onions, tomatoes & capers? Then you have the salmon. Nova or Lox or just plain ole’ smoked salmon. What even is the difference, every place calls it something else. Sahar explained that one is saltier than the other, but of course- it’s not really that simple.

Lox vs Nova

• Lox is made from salmon coming from Pacific Ocean while Nova is made from salmon of North Atlantic Ocean.

• The major difference today is not the origin of the salmon but rather the process.

• Nova is cold smoked before being served whereas regular lox is served without smoking.

• Nova is considered by many to be more delicate and expensive. 

• The brine used for Lox is salty, whereas the brine of Nova has sugar too. 

Being almost closing time, they didn’t have my standard everything bagel so I went for the wholewheat variety which was super tasty. Since 2008, Leo’s have been making their own bagels on site. This was very clear from the un-even shape of my bagel, but that’s good- we like that. A little bit too much cream cheese but totally delicious otherwise and it filled me up for the rest of the night.

Leo’s was your typical deli type place. Quite a small establishment with white subway tiles on the walls, bagel making station on view at the back, a ton of products on offer and counter seats facing outwards onto the street. Founded by Adam Pomerantz who seems to have been inspired by his family and his heritage. He apprenticed with an Egyptian bagel maker in New Jersey (Oh yeah!) where he learnt everything he knows. He went on to open his first bagel shop in 1995 and has continued to hand roll, boil and bake to this day.

Emily who has never been to NYC before, almost died at the price which I found hilarious but totally understandable. When you’ve never been to the city and have been away for so long, I can imagine that it might be a bit of a shock. Plus, she’s from Kansas 😉 She also writes a blog which you can see here: http://kansasgirltravelsworld.com/ 

We’re meeting up again this afternoon and we thought we might try tackle a rainbow bagel, which to me sounds as awful as it looks! I’ll keep you posted…

3 Hanover Square, New York, NY, 10005