Unlike New York, and outside of Brick Lane, London doesn’t really have a reputation for bagels. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of bakeries making great bagels. From a cluster of brilliant kosher bakeries in north London, to east London favourites that have over 150 years baking experience between them, these are the best spots in London for bagels. What you fill them with, is up to you.
Like many bakeries, Rinkoff’s is steeped in history and tradition. The Jewish bakery first opened in 1911 and has been making and supplying challah, pastries, and of course bagels, ever since. The century-old bakers is still in the family, from boys to mensch, and once you’ve had one of their smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, you’ll understand why it’s such a Whitechapel favourite. Comfortingly doughy with a little bite to the exterior, this is a bagel for the ages.
The Bagel Guys is one of the few London bagel shops trying to bring a little bit of the NYC bagel game over here. Sure, our New York colleagues would likely roll their eyes and scoff at the Netil Market takeaway spot. Not because it’s bad but because that’s what ‘worldly’ New Yorkers do. Similar to Londoners, come to think of it. Anyway the gooey, salty BEC (bacon, egg, cheese) is a hangover cure extraordinaire - don’t forget the hot sauce - while their lox on an everything sourdough bagel is an always-reliable Sunday morning go-to.
Daniels Bagel Bakery
Daniels is a spot that you want to be on first name terms with. The kosher bakery on the Finchley Road is the kind of place we’d head to pre-apocalypse to stock the f up. The challah is excellent and their bagels are perhaps the perfect balance between a soft and oh-so-chewy crust. We tend to stick to plain, onion, or sesame, but there’s a pretty sizeable selection. And if you need an immediate fix, just get a smoked salmon and cream cheese one there and then.
Celebrities come in all shapes and sizes. Even round, holey, and filled with hot salt beef plus a smear of watered-down English mustard. And that’s what Beigel Bake’s salt beef beigel is: a celebrity. London’s most famous beigel shop has been boiling and baking on Brick Lane since 1974. Their beigels, freshly made daily, are of the soft, golden, and very chewy variety. Fillings range from the eponymous salt beef to smoked salmon and cream cheese, to classics of differing generations, like tuna mayo, or herring.
Carmelli is one of those places that’s spoken of in hushed, excited tones. Walk around north west London with a Carmelli box sticking out of your bag and you’ll more than likely get an approving nod, or a question as to whether you’re gonna finish that. The Golders Green kosher bakery has been around since the late 80s and the reverence that their baked goods receive is for good reason. Their bagels are perfectly sized, not too fat, and favour chew over texture when it comes to the crust. As for the rest, well, just try walking out of here without a box of rugelach.
Another north west favourite, Roni’s Bagel Bakery first opened in West Hampstead in 1989, and now has a few spots in Belsize Park, Highgate, and Muswell Hill. The bagels here are solid, though a little inconsistent from location to location. That said, when they’re on form they’re a soft and chewy delight, and the cream cheese here is also top tier stuff. Actually, so too is the babka.
A north London late-night institution, if you haven’t had or, better put, needed a smoked salmon bagel from The Happening Bagel Bakery then you’re likely far more sensible humans than we are. The consistent and somewhat reassuringly brusque service, matched with an always satisfying doughy bagel makes the HBB a stalwart. If the challah is fresh, it’s worth picking up a loaf too.
Around since 1983, the Hendon Bagel Bakery has a big range of kosher bagels and baked goods (as well as another spot in Temple Fortune called Bread). The bagels are a little chubbier than other varieties, with a good chew-to-bite ratio. These bagels are made for filling. So load up on smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, onions - whatever you like, and pile high.
The Stoke Newington brunch favourite specialises in Montreal bagels - which are basically a little more of a handful, a bigger hole, and a denser dough interior. Is this a good thing? Yes. At least, if theirs are anything to go by. The thick-cut lox and cream cheese, heavy on capers, is a delight.
The first bakers in the Grodzinski family migrated from Vilnius to east London back in 1888 before setting up shop in Stamford Hill and later Edgware. The kosher bakery and deli hasn’t looked back since. Their bagels are whoppers. Wide and fat with a bready texture, they’re conveniently located opposite their deli counter in their Stamford Hill shop, so you know exactly what you should do with them.
The Bagel House
An actual 24/7 powerhouse, The Bagel House has helped us out more times than we can count. You can’t miss the Stoke Newington bakery. It’s always open, strip lights shining, fluorescent neons dancing, with people inside needing good value sustenance. Sure, it doesn’t make the best bagels in the world - whatever you do, do not absentmindedly say yes to a hot (microwaved) smoked salmon bagel - but they’re perfectly good with a Ribena.
Panzer’s has been in St. John’s Wood since 1956. Opened by two refugees from Austria and Czechoslovakia (Mr. Panzer and Mr. Vogl respectively) it quickly became a favourite for Jewish deli goods and, since then, has established itself as a legendary delicatessen. The smoked salmon is essential (the only question is whether you go dry or oily), as are the bagels. The former is probably better than the latter, but it’s just semantics when something tastes this good.
King’s is a kosher bakery in East Finchley that freshly bakes challah, pastries, and extremely hefty bagels. These guys are on the chunky side, with excellently brown crust and a soft, bready interior. It’s a bagel that you might think about lightly toasting, and you’d be right in doing so.