There may be no more "New York" a breakfast sandwich than a bagel and lox, and Upper West Side specialty shop Zabar's has been the place to go for the iconic sandwich for more than 70 years. Forget the city that never sleeps, this store is made for the city that's just woken up. A Zabar's bagel and lox is a New York rite of passage — as long as you assemble the ingredients yourself.
Thanks to the sandwich's popularity, they've resorted to only offering a premade version at their adjacent café, so your best bet is to head to the appetizing section in the grocery proper. For what it's worth, we're also not talking about actual belly lox, which is cured in an intense salt brine and never even touches smoke. Over time, the original product was replaced by milder Nova lox. With its slightly smoky tinge, it perfectly complements its counterparts.
One of those counterparts ought to be Zabar’s scallion cream cheese, displayed in a case that you're forced to pass on the way to the preserved marine life. The creamy, onion-packed spread eats Philadelphia's brunch with its allium tang. Finally, snag a toasty sesame bagel; the big, yeasty round sports plenty of nutty flavor thanks to those seeds. It's a pinnacle of New York baking, nearly impossible to improve.
Yes, this sandwich requires a bit more effort than most, but it also allows you to have a connection with your meal on a deeper level. Part of the fun of traditional Jewish appetizing is the interactivity; a little of this, a little of that. And if you can't wait to build the final product at home, you can always take your bounty next door to the café and show all those poor saps who bought the plastic-wrapped version what they're missing. Even better, you'll still have leftovers for dinner.
Click here for other featured sandwiches or check out the 2012 Year in Sandwiches and the Sandwich of the Week Slideshow. Know a sandwich that should be featured? Email The Daily Meal or comment below. Better yet, become a contributor and write up your favorite today!