OK, so this one may be in quite a few of the guidebooks but it’s such an essential part of a visit to East London, it’s almost rude not to mention it. This part of London used to be home to many Jewish immigrants in the early 20th century, but as they became more affluent many moved up to leafier north London. This in turn allowed for an influx of immigrants from the Asian sub-continent in the latter half of the 20th century which is why Brick Lane is home to so many curry houses today.
Beigel Bake (with the white storefront) and the Beigel Shop (with the Yellow front) are two Jewish businesses that remain here to this day, offering pretty much the same product – although Beigel Bake it is widely considered the better of the two, and will often have a queue. Open 24/7, this place pumps out beautifully chewy Beigels and other baked goods with such a fast turnaround, freshness is guaranteed. I’ll often drop in before or after a night out and witness such a brilliant cross-section of society – cabbies, students, tourists, clubbers and workers patiently waiting in line.
More often than not I’ll opt for their world-class salt beef beigel, generously filled with warm hunks of succulent meat and smeared with hot English mustard. When I’m not in the mood for meat, I’ll go for the equally satisfying smoked salmon and cream cheese. I’ll usually take half a dozen bagels to take home too.