Few quotidian foods fuel the kind of snobbery that bagels do. We blame the Bagel Bakers Local 338, the New York union of handmade bagel craftsmen in the first half of the 20th century. It was during that time that the idea of the “perfect” water-boiled bagel was codified, adapted from the Polish original. But outside the Northeast, it can still be difficult to find the rounds that taste and feel exactly right. Just in time for December 11’s National Have a Bagel Day, these are a few of our favorites.
They’re slightly softer than a classic New York–style bagel, but there’s nowhere else to experience the sheer scope of flavors of chewy dough available here. We’re especially taken with the festively pink strawberry bagels, spread with matching cream cheese that’s dotted with real berries. Looking for something more savory? Get a sandwich on a sourdough bagel. 300 Elden St., Herndon
This brand-new, small-batch bakery focuses its powers on sandwiches in the space formerly home to Bites Wine & Grilled Cheese Bar. Fill yours with in-house cold-smoked lox, local eggs, or avocado mash, or try one of the combinations like the breakfast BLT. Kids will love the bite-sized bagel balls. 105 S. King St., Leesburg
These water-boiled bagels are the real deal, as close as you’ll come to Brooklyn in NoVA. Brave the lines at the takeout-only location and scoop up a bag filled with all seven flavors. Stuff an everything bagel with whitefish salad from Ivy City Smokehouse or pastrami from Maryland’s Saval Deli. The cinnamon-sugar bagel is a perfect, jaw-working dessert on its own. 807 Pendleton St., Alexandria
Main Street Bagel Deli
Nineteen flavors of traditional, smooth-skinned circles are just the beginning here. There are 62 types of sandwiches available, too. Get an Italiano on sun-dried tomato, or splurge with a Reuben on a deep, dark pumpernickel bagel that absorbs the fats of the corned beef and melted Swiss. 10268 Main St., Fairfax