Kossar’s Bialys – 75 years of bakery perfection
Kossar’s Bialys has been a staple of the Lower East Side for over 75 years and is the oldest bialy bakery in the United States. Years ago, New York City made an industry out of the bialy business but has fallen off significantly since the mid 1900’s to where people, including us at ExploringNY, had no idea what a bialy was. So what is a bialy? The best way to describe what a bialy is would be to image that a bagel, a roll, and a danish mutated to create a single baked good, and that would be the bialy. Made in a way that makes them much flatter than a bagel, it has a very bread like doughy consistency and taste is slightly bland except for the middle which is a mass of onion or garlic depending on the type that you order. It really is a unique creation and harkens back to a time when baked goods were cooked before electricity and needed to be simple.
During the 1990’s Kossar’s decided to dabble in the bagel making business along with its staple bialy. While they haven’t been making bagels as long as some of the mainstays in Manhattan, they can hold their own with the best of them and perhaps might even be the best in the city. Cooked in huge ovens within this rather simple establishment, they have created a perfect blend of baked crust, doughy center, and bagel flavor. Like most NYC bagels you will find that the Kossar bagel is large in size and can satisfy the hunger of even the most ravenous of New Yorker.
Like the baked goods that they churn out with amazing quality and consistency, the interior of Kossar’s is simple yet spectacular. There are no flashy signs or massive displays of flavored cream cheeses to choose from. You are instead presented with simple menu of baked goods at some of the most reasonable prices you are likely to find anywhere. Those prices being $1 for a bagel the size of a dinner plate and a fresh out of the oven bialy for only $.90. Probably not the same prices when the store opened in 1936 but it’s probably pretty close. Flour is pretty much everywhere in the store front as the bialys are rolled, assembled, and cooked right in front of you as Kossar’s redefines the word fresh baked bread. They also feature a mix of pletzels and bulkas which are just as unique as the bialy.
This is a must go to bakery for anyone who wants to experience what a true New York bagel and bialy should taste like. One can only hope that this will be a staple of the Lower East Side for another 75 years.
New Yorker Tip: The cinnamon raisin and the everything bagels are both amazing choices when deciding what to pick at Kossar’s. There is also a park a block north of the store front, where on a nice weekend you can sit and enjoy your baked goods outside.