If you’ve read my proposal story (read it here), you would know that I absolutely adore New York-style bagels. I can still remember the first time I ordered my first bagel one rainy day in New York back in 2013, picking my bagel and cream cheese from the counter, and sitting down in a tiny table outdoors with a steaming cup of coffee. It was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had in my favorite city.
Enjoying my first bagel in NYC at a table outside Pick A Bagel
When I went home to Manila, I had a hard time finding a store that sold bagels, much less the way New York bagel shops did it: with your selected bagel stuffed with the cream cheese variant you chose, like a really hefty sandwich. Here, certain coffee shops that offer bagels would only give you a tiny little pack of cream cheese to go with your order. It’s pretty sad. It’s just not the same, and it’s not enough.
So imagine how happy I was when LES Bagels opened shop in McKinley Hill just a few months after that New York trip. My prayers were answered: Finally, a bagel shop that serves great bagels with super thick cream cheese in it, the way New Yorkers do it. They make everything in-house, too. Just one bagel is enough to fill you for a meal. I can also enjoy my bagels close to where I live and where I work out at their second branch in The Podium in Ortigas.
The Regular Bagels (Plain, Sesame, Onion, Garlic, Whole Wheat, Wheat Everything, Black Sesame, Plain Everything) are actually just P40 a piece. The Specialty Bagels start at P60 (Cinnamon Raisin, Black Russian, Pumpernickel), with Sweet Bagels (Chocolate and Blueberry) at P80 a pop. What really spells the difference in pricing is the cream cheese.
Select your bagel from the glass display
Cream Cheese in a bagel or a small container starts at P140 (Plain, Scallion, Garlic & Chives) and P160 (Jalapeño & Cheddar, Apple Cinnamon, Herbs), and goes up to P180 for Bacon Cheddar, Blueberry, Sundried Tomato Basil, Sundried Tomato Olive, and Strawberry. Lox (with salmon) and Truffle are their most expensive at P300 and P340 respectively in a bagel or for a small container. They also have medium and large containers.
Cream cheese display
I sampled some of their bagels and cream cheese variants, and came up with my own combos as well as tried LES Bagels’ recommended pairings.
I started with their Sesame Seed Bagel paired with their LOX Cream Cheese, in which you can really taste the salmon. The light-tasting bagel allowed the salmon cream cheese to be the star, and that’s why this pairing works.
One of my favorites is the Bacon and Cheddar Cream Cheese, and I wanted the flavor of bacon and cheese to really dominate my palate so I paired it with a plain bagel. LES actually recommends this combo because this allows you to really taste the delicious smoky flavor of the bacon paired with the tangy cheddar cream cheese, while you enjoy the soft, warm plain bagel for that perfect New York-style experience.
Do you want something spicy? Play with your taste buds by pairing the Pumpernickel Bagel with their Jalapeño Cheddar Cream Cheese, which is really spicy, but so good. The earthy flavor of pumpernickel balances out the taste.
Black Sesame Bagel
Of course I wouldn’t skip the Black Pepper Truffle Cream Cheese, which I paired with their Black Sesame Bagel, that really let me taste the truffle, and even complemented it with its strong black sesame flavor.
Can’t decide which bagel to get? They have Everything Bagel (black and white sesame seeds with onion) just for that, and I paired it with the Herb Cream Cheese. I like how the fresh taste of herb complemented the two types of sesame seeds, and the onion gave it a nice kick of flavor.
And if you can’t decide which cream cheese to get, go for the Sundried Tomato Basil Cream Cheese, which is so herby and flavorful, and goes with all bagels. Tomato with basil is such a great combo, and mixing it in cream cheese just makes sense, giving your palate that burst of freshness.
Apple Cinnamon and Strawberry Cream Cheese
If you have a sweet tooth and would like a saccharine bagel, you can go for the Cinnamon Raisin Sweet Bagel, and pair it with their sweet cream cheese variants, like Apple Cinnamon and Strawberry. The bagel itself isn’t too sweet, and when paired with Apple Cinnamon Cream Cheese, the overlapping cinnamon on cinnamon gives you double the delicious flavor. The apple bits are a nice, sweet-sour touch in the cream cheese. The overall experience is not overwhelming. The Strawberry Cream Cheese, on the other hand, is essentially your strawberry jam and cream cheese combo—fruity and tangy.
You can have chocolate even in your bagel, with their Chocolate Bagel that’s great to pair with Plain Cream Cheese because the latter balances out and tames the richness and sweetness of the chocolate. The combination is rich, tangy, and creamy all at the same time.
I washed down all these bagels with strong, bold Yardstick Coffee.
They have cookies and dessert bars, too. Try the Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie, which is rich and sweet. You can really taste the raspberry that pairs well with the super-rich top layer of chocolate and cheesecake.
Clockwise from top left: Homemade Oreo Cookies, Fudge Brownie, Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie, and Oatmeal Maple Cream Cookie
The Fudge Brownie is also super rich and chunky with fudge. Definitely for those with a sweet tooth or those who would like that occasional indulgence, it’s best to share this with two or three friends.
I love how the Oatmeal Maple Cream Cookie has that distinct aromatic spice that takes me back to Canada! I love the homey chunky crunch of the cookie. The Homemade Oreo Cookie likewise has that homey crunch and tasty burnt edge of homemade cookies.
LES Bagels also offers delivery within the Ortigas and BGC area for a minimum order of P500 (i.e. a Bagel Box) plus 10% service charge. The Small Bagel Box (P550) lets you sample two of their cream cheese (small container), except the three specialty variants, as well as six regular bagels. The Big Bagel Box (P950) includes 12 bagels and two medium containers of cream cheese.
LES Bagels is from the same group that brought us other New York-inspired joints such as Bowery in BGC, Borough in The Podium, and Nolita in Bonifacio High Street Center. A New Yorker chef is behind the menu of these concept restaurants.