This year the People's Choice trophy came with a free booth for a month at the Dekalb Market, plus $20,000 in marketing support (All photos by Scott Lynch)
Sep 19, 2022
Scenes from BagelFest (where the best bagel In Brooklyn is once again from Connecticut)
For the second year in a row PopUp Bagels took home the prize for Best Overall at the two-day event
In Downtown Brooklyn this past weekend, on the ground floor of the City Point mall, some 2,000 people devoured scores of bagels from a stacked lineup of 20 shops representing New York City and beyond. The occasion was the third annual Brooklyn BagelFest, and at the end of their carbo-licious journey they voted on their favorite.
There were also nearly 20 “bagel experts,” or guest judges, among the crowd, including Borough President Antonio Reynoso, whose enviable assignment was to eat from every single booth at BagelFest, and then rate and rank their favorites.
And for the second year in a row, PopUpBagels, which Redding resident Adam Goldberg started as backyard pandemic project in 2020 and now has three locations in Connecticut, took home both grand prizes: Best Overall, Expert’s Choice; and Best Overall, People’s Choice, the latter of which comes with a free booth for a month at the Dekalb Market downstairs at City Point, plus $20,000 in “marketing support.”
Goldberg was confident going in. “We’re here with a great product, a great design, and a great vibe,” he told Brooklyn Magazine early on Saturday. “Plus we added some new fun things this year, so we’re ready to take it again.”
And though we might take issue with his assertion that “Connecticut is kind of the bagel capital of the world these days,” we have no problem with his back-to-back victories. PopUpBagels are very good indeed, especially the sesame one topped with Momofuku chili crunch butter and trout roe. Vibe-wise, their table was a total party all weekend. Having them at Dekalb Market for a month is going to be great.
The Best Overall Runner-up at Brooklyn BagelFest was … also from Connecticut. The Bagelry at Olmo Kitchen is located in New Haven, where it started as a pandemic pivot by chef and co-owner Craig Hutchinson, who transformed his full-service restaurant into a full-time bagel shop a few months after Covid hit in 2020. These bagels — a sesame with a spicy scallion schmear, and an everything with stracciatella and heirloom tomatoes — were also terrific, well-deserving of the accolades.
In fact, there’s been so much Connecticut dominance at BagelFest that a special Best of the Boroughs award was handed out this year. That went to Liberty Bagels, which has shops near Manhattan’s Koreatown and in Jackson Heights. They rolled into Downtown Brooklyn with some crazy-colored bagels and cream cheeses in flavors like birthday cake, snickerdoodle, honey bacon sriracha, and lox lemon dill.
We liked Bo’s Bagels from Harlem as well, which took home Most Creative for its Sushi Bagel (smoked salmon with wasabi and pickled ginger cream cheese) and Bo Berry Bliss (blueberry bagel with berry almond cream cheese).
Another winner in our book: Wheated, the pizza parlor in Kensington, whose owner David Sheridan sneak-previewed his upcoming bagel program at the fest with a remarkably light sourdough offering topped with bonito flake, furikake, and scallion cream cheese.
There were also a bunch of bagel-adjacent booths here, including Greenpoint’s Acme Smoked Fish, who handed out tons of some killer togarashi smoked salmon, and the ice cream wizards from The Social in Prospect Heights, who teamed up with Bed-Stuy’s Greenberg’s for an astonishingly good scoop of “Lemme Get a BEC” egg bagel ice cream with swirls of cream cheese and candied bacon. Alcohol was in ample supply as well.
“This is a celebration of all things bagel,” Brooklyn BagelFest founder Sam Silverman told us. “Brooklyn is the best, but there are great bagels being made outside of New York and I think it’s important to celebrate that as well.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Wait ’til next year!
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