Is D.C. Ready for Bagels from Queens?

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Hannah Docter-Loeb

Do bagel lovers in the Washington area think what comes out of New York is so superior that they’ll flock to eateries where the bagels are made and frozen in Queens, then shipped south for baking?

That’s reportedly the plan of New York-based H & H Bagels, which last week announced a national expansion, including opening 10 stores across the District, Northern Virginia and Norfolk/Virginia Beach.

“All our bagels are made here in New York City, so Washingtonians will have authentic New York City bagels locally,” H&H CEO Jay Rushin, a D.C.-area native, told Washingtonian. “I’m super excited to bring the brand down there.”

It’s not the first time H&H bagels have been sold in DC — Calvert Woodley used to import bagels from the mainstay, though staff told WJW they have switched to a different distributor and have no plans to revert back to H&H.

Bagels are inherently Jewish. The bread roll originated in the Jewish communities in Poland and was brought to the States by immigrants. Bagels are now a breakfast staple for many and often associated with Jewish culture.

And although D.C. may not have the same reputation for bagels as the Big Apple, there isn’t a shortage of bagel options in the DMV.

“There’s this notion in people’s head that you need New York and New Jersey water to make good bagels. DC filtered water really does the job,” Pearl’s Bagels store manager Sophie Temple said. “No shade to New York bagels at all. They’re fantastic, they’re the blueprint. But it’s urban legend.”

Temple says they’re happy to keep “furthering the bagel agenda,” pointing out that each bagel place has its own niche with its own offerings. Pearl’s, in the District, prides itself on its one store, usage of sourdough starter, and also the fact they bake their bagels fresh every day. There are also plenty of other bagel stores to choose from, from Bethesda Bagels to Call Your Mother (a self proclaimed “Jew-ish deli” with 10 locations in the area).

According to Washingtonian, specifics of the planned H&H locations will be released once the company signs the leases. However, Rushin says they will all be inside the Beltway. Guess time will tell if these bagels are indeed “Like No Other Bagel in the World.” ■

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