Barney Greengrass! This is the place where I had my very first Lox & Cream Cheese Bagel many years ago. I try to go back, whenever I am in this part of the city, so I was surprised, when I realized that I hadn’t introduced Poul to this place at an earlier point. Though it’s probably because we have been staying in Lower East Side most of the times, we have been in NYC together, and Barney Greengrass is quite far from there, in Upper West Side.
Barney Greengrass also goes under the name “The Sturgeon king” and if you like smoked sturgeon, there’s no better place than Barney’s. We don’t eat a lot of sturgeon in Denmark, but I really like it, and if you like smoked whitefish, I think a bagel with smoked sturgeon would be a hit.
However, I love salmon more than sturgeon, so at Barney Greengrass, I usually end up getting a bagel with Nova Scotia salmon, and I always struggle to decide whether the Nova is best at Barney Greengrass or at Russ & Daughters. Not that it matters, as both places are awesome, and the only parameter that decides which one I choose is the distance.
Even though Barney Greengrass has amazing bagels and lots of history, it has never turned into the same tourist magnet as Russ & Daughters in Lower East Side. Instead they have a large local fan base and the tiny cafeteria inside the deli is almost always packed.
The service at Barney Greengrass can be a bit abrupt in a very New York kind of way, so forget about polite phrases and warm welcomes. You’ll never have to ask for the check, as it will show up at your table before you’re done with your meal, when the staff has decided that you’ve been sitting around for long enough, but they mean well, so see it as a part of a very unique, very tasty New York experience.
If you want to read more about bagels, check out my guide to my favorite bagels in New York City
Barney Greengrass, 541 Amsterdam Avenue (between 86th & 87th Street), Upper West Side, New York