Ok, let's just get this part out of the way first: if you're like 94.5% of the people in this town and have strong opinions about bagels and their varying degrees of goodness and New York-ness, don't go into Simit and Smith thinking these guys are trying to reinvent our city's beloved breakfast bread.
The simit, which is what the Turkish call this dense delight (other people of the Middle East, Greece, Romania, and the Balkans call it other things), is round with a hole in the middle, is studded with seeds, and can be topped with things like Nova and cream cheese. But it's not a New York bagel. It's not trying to be a New York bagel. It is what it is, and what it is, is good.
Turkish Bakery on the Upper West Side
Simit and Smith, the city's first dedicated simit spot, opened last month on the Upper West Side, and two more outposts are coming soon down in the Financial District. It's a cozy contemporary space, with just a few stools for eating in, some nice graphic typography splashed across one wall, and a front counter piled high with several sorts of simits (and simit-ish little loaves). Clearly the thing to do here is grab a bag of simits to go, to enjoy with your brunch at home, or order one of Simit and Smith's many snacks for a stroll in the park. If you do eat in, especially if it's as cold out as it was the evening we ate here, definitely get a glass of Simit and Smith's strong Turkish tea to sip with your sandwich.
Turkish Simit, Not Your Average New York Bagel
As for the simits themselves, they (and their counterparts, the mini-loaves) are really more akin to the NYC pretzel than any bagel, with a nice crispy shell, a chewy, doughy inside, and enough seeds–sesame on the "original"; a mix on the "multigrain"–to really make a difference in the taste. We tried the original turkish simit with a liberal schmear of black olive paste and slices of salty kaseri cheese, and it was terrific, the kind of thing that satisfies any time of day, for breakfast, lunch, or an early supper. And the egg salad was a credible contribution to the vast pantheon of Upper West Side egg salad options–the tart sumac is a nice addition here–though the multigrain roll was too firm to bite down into without the sandwich's filling squirting out on all sides. Basically: order with confidence, but eat this little beauty open-faced, and/or ask for a fork. For Glenwood residents on the Upper West Side, Simit and Smith is definitely worth a try or three.
Learn More About Simit and Smith
Simit and Smith is located on 72nd Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues, and is open on Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. On the weekends it opens at 8:00 a.m. For lots more information plus a look at the Simit and Smith menu, please see their website, here.