Let me start out by saying that it isn't as easy as you'd think to find a good bagel in NYC. Bagels are very similar to pizza in this town, there is just as much bad as there is good and if you understand that you won't settle for mediocrity (even though you may eat mediocrity occasionally). First things first; the rules. Never, and I mean never eat a bagel from one of the carts on the street. I don't care how hungry you are or how convenient it might be, but nine times out of ten these bagels are substandard. You must recognize the fact that bagels are NOT like regular bread. They are denser, firmer, and have their own unique flavor. So when you go to one of those street carts you most likely will get a piece of bread that is disguised as a bagel, don't be fooled. Also I have found that unless you buy from a street cart bright and early your bagel, or buttered roll (I love buttered rolls btw), will be as stiff as a board and not fit for consumption. Yet I see people lining up at these damn things every morning. You fools! Second rule: don't get your bagels from places that don't make them, like Starbucks for instance (also street carts and any place that list bagels as a footnote). They do coffee, that's why you go there and for times sake it's easy to grab something to eat there as well. Don't do it. To me bagels are an important staple of this city and I for one am always on the lookout for good quality, fresh tasting and authentic bagels that I can have more than one. So I was pleasantly surprised to find Bagel Maven Cafe on the corner of 30th street and 7th ave serving up some great tasting bagels. Now I have walked past this place a million times always between meals and never had the chance to give them a try. However I could no longer ignore the wonderful aroma emanating from this establishment. I used to work at a bagel shop in Westchester when I was in high school and to make a long story short I really know what a real bagel is supposed to taste like. The bagels at Bagel Maven aren't exactly traditional bagels but they are close enough. To me the truest test is the ability to eat a bagel plain without anything on it...no butter, no cream cheese. Luckily these are really good bagels so I moved on to a Sesame with Vegetable Cream Cheese (I am not a huge fan of plain cream cheese). I was very happily surprised by the vegetable cream cheese as well with its larger than usual chunks of red, yellow and green peppers, they were like small flavor burts. So overall a very sastisfactory experience and I now have a new morning stop before I head to work...sorry Starbucks you can keep your stale bagels which you toast to hide the fact that they are stale! Eat Real Bagels.