Bagels are to sandwiches what Mutya was to the Sugababes: highly controversial but ultimately The One. We often doubt bagels on the lunchtime menu, since they can be overbaked and undervalued. The heavy handed use of stodgy dough leaves us tearing into our food with all the elegance and grace of an underfed circus bear. Also we’re not New Yorkers so our delicate English mouths aren’t used to such ferocity (the worst we’ve dealt with are Curly Wurlys). But fear not! These ‘5 under 5’ bagel places are about to change the way you view this spherical snack for good.
1. The ‘New Yoiker’: Nana Fanny’s Salt Beef Bagels, Spitalfields.
Why this is life changing: Salt Beef in a bagel is something you haven’t tried but NEED to. We always assume beef should remain on the Toby’s Carvery Sunday Menu but guess what, it shouldn’t. Slap some mustard, salt beef and pickle in a bagel and suddenly you’re transported to a Woody Allen film with Emma Stones and Birkenstocks a plenty. Nana Fannys knows whats up and if you get it through the Fever app it’s only £5 AND you get it with a freshly prepared salad and extra pickles. They’re really worth their salt (beef).
Ready to serve from 11.30am till 4pm approx, 7 days a week.
2. The ‘Sophisticated Salmonista’: Carmelli’s Bakery, Golders Green.
Why this is life changing: Salmon + Cream Cheese. Bring this in for lunch and you’re showing your prowess as the most suave person to ever walk your dimly-lit, office halls. A salmon bagel isn’t just a lunchtime liaison: it’s a way of life. People will start assuming you know things. Like the best martinis in Hoxton. Or whether stock markets took that much of a hit due to China’s decline. And if you bring in a Carmelli’s bagel? Well then, you are really in the know. Unsurprisingly their hand-baked bagels are a staple amongst London’s Jewish community. They’re kosher in every sense of the word so this is one stop off you have to make.
Food served 6.30am-midnight Mon-Thur.
3. The ‘Pig-Out Perfection’: Dirty Bagel, Spitalfields.
Why this is life changing: Because this is why there is such a fuss over pulled pork in society right now. Is it the toasted bagel, with dough so soft yet decidedly crunchy which draws in the crowds? Or the succulent seduction of the roasted pork shoulder? Maybe it’s the slice of BLOWTORCHED cheese which they do right in front of your dribbling, slightly special looking faces. Guess what, we don’t care. All we care about is that it’s not in our mouths right this second.
4. The ‘Bestest for Breakfast’: Union Theatre Café, Union Street.
Why this is life changing: This is one of the cheapest and most delicious bacon bagels London has to offer. Big claims we know but since you can get one plus a hot drink for a mere £2.50 we think it’s justified. The café uses Brick Lane Bagels only so the quality is solid (haha, like a brick, geddit?) There are only a few tables but this cosy corner is 100% worth making the trip to. If you fancy it, the theatre itself has been known to host a wide selection of excellent productions, both new and old.
Open 7am til 7.30 most weekdays.
5. The ‘Alliteration Sensation’: Beigel Bake Brick Lane Bakery, Brick Lane.
Why this is life changing: These guys are the only 24 hour eatery on our list. You do know what that means, right? That means after your particularly savage night out in London’s East End you’ve found your haven. That means no more lily-livered kebab choices that you might (not) live to regret. That means salt beef/salmon beauties you can stuff into your mouth for as long as you want (and they’re a steal at £3.70). You can take that to the bagel bank.
Open 24 hours, oh yeah.
By the way, if you have to deal with one of these tools: