I’m in a New York State of Mind

Sometimes you forget the charms of where you live and need to be lovingly reminded. It’s a chilly, wet, Saturday morning. The rain started last night and looks to last through the day. I’ve ducked into a place that is a quintessential New York experience, as evidenced by the room full of tourists trying to collect a memory to take home. I’m fortunate in that I live two blocks from what one could argue is the best bagel shop in the city — Murray’s. You stand in line, it’s always long but fast moving, and gaze at the bins full of every bagel and bialy known to man. Hand rolled, boiled, and then baked, they are the taste of the lower east side from another time. I wonder what to order but then always end with the same — an onion bagel with cream cheese, dark coffee, and a table near the window. Murray’s has been in my neighborhood, in two different locations, for as long as I can remember. Twenty plus years.

Today, the rain drips from the awning and the bagels are warm and the cream cheese is fluffy, not dense. They don’t allow you to have your bagel toasted here, which is how it should be; Pure, authentic. Toasted bagels have their place, but Murray’s is not one of them*. The shop is bustling with people picking up their orders and grabbing a quick breakfast. Everybody comes here; tourists, locals, cops, and firefighters. It’s a microcosm of Chelsea. And if I was visiting this in a foreign city I would be enamored and would return on each visit, but since it is local it tends, except for mornings like this, to blend into the background as just another element that makes up my home.

I love spring, but autumn really is New York’s time and on this damp morning, at Murray’s, belly-full and coffee loaded, it is the best place in the world.

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*UPDATE: Murray’s now allows you to have your bagel toasted. The end must be near.

Originally published at johnharbour.com on October 4, 2014.