It’s a rite of passage of becoming a Londoner that, at some stage, you will end up drunk at 3am in the inevitable queue for Beigel Bake. The shop has been up and running since 1974; the second of its kind to open in Brick Lane (the first is just two doors down, initially owned by the same family, and is still standing.) These beigel shops now serve as landmarks of the East End’s historically Jewish immigrant roots. They’ve remained virtually unchanged over the years, even as the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood around them has filled with vintage boutiques and third-wave coffee shops.
While it would be reasonable to think that this is only a late-night kind of stop, thankfully, it is also a treat in the broad sober light of day. The staff run a tight ship 24/7, reminding the constant crowds to move down and to stop chatting.
Customers are thankful for it—to be in and out in a matter of minutes with a warm bagel stuffed with thickly sliced, fat-laced salt beef, a swipe of spicy mustard, and a vinegary gherkin, is a real pleasure. No sooner has the order passed over the lips of customers than a slice of heaven, concealed in a brown paper bag, is placed into wanting hands, the contents of which are to be consumed outside as quickly as possible.
Know Before You Go
The beigels may be the main draw here, but don’t sleep on the desserts, which include flaky apple strudel and chocolate-and-caramel-topped shortbreads.