New Yorkers are fond of claiming that their city's excellent tap water is the reason that New York bagels taste the best.
When you are in New York and ask someone an innocent question like where to go eat some bagels, expect to witness an argument about whether Brooklyn Bagel is better than H&H Bagels, and so on.
But as a bagel taste test at New York's Serious Eats website revealed a few years ago, after two hours out of the oven, decent bagels all taste pretty much the same.
New York Bagel
If you want to eat a really great bagel, regardless of what neighborhood or city you live in, go to a top bagel bakery and buy the bagels that have just come out of the oven. If you live in Houston, the easiest place to do this is at New York Bagels on Hillcroft. You can stand at the counter and watch the baker fill the cooling baskets right in front of you.
Just order the hot ones and don't get hung up on which toppings are available—sesame or poppy, onion, salt, or plain—if they have just come out of the oven, they are going to be exceptional. (I'm not a fan of raisin, blueberry or sweet bagels, but not doubt those are better hot too.)
I like to buy a bag of hot ones on Sunday morning and rush them home to the table already set with smoked fish, sliced tomatoes, capers, onions, cream cheese, and hot coffee. My kids and I eat one or two steaming hot bagels in the car on the way home. It's hard to believe how good they are without any toppings.
The coffee shop attached to the bakery is not a bad place to get breakfast. It has been eclipsed in recent years by the amazing smoked fish platters and big Jewish deli breakfasts at Kenny & Ziggy's, but it remains popular with the Meyerland locals. I had a pastrami omelet there recently. It came with chopped pastrami rather than the slices I had envisioned, but it wasn't half bad.