Where to get your bagel fix in Cape Town

Words: Jess Spiro

Ah bagels, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. You are yeasty and risen, with a soft chewy interior and a slightly crispy exterior. And just so versatile! You work with smoked salmon, pastrami, scrambled eggs, the list is endless. The origins of the bagel, as with most delicious foods, is unclear with a number of countries laying claim to it, but the most reliable claim comes from a Jewish community in Poland in the 1600s when it was apparently written in the Community Regulations that the bagel be given as a gift to women in childbirth, symbolising the circle of life.

The word ‘bagel’ comes from the Yiddish word ‘beyga’, derived from the German dialect meaning ring or bracelet. Bagels made their way to New York via Polish Jews, where they have only grown in cult status. There are two definitive styles of bagel; the Montreal and the New York style. The former is made with malt and sugar with no salt and is boiled in water sweetened with honey, whereas the latter is traditionally made with malt and salt and is boiled in salted water before baking. The boiling is meant to set the crust, ensuring a chewier bagel with less expansion during baking.

Here in Cape Town, we’re partial to a bagel and so we should be, it’s the ultimate anytime food. Here are the four coolest bagel shops in the city.

New York Bagels

The original bagel kings of Cape Town, they’re something of an institution and their dedicated following has moved with them to their new location in town. They are especially known for their numerous types different bagels, all handmade of course. You can pick up all manner of Jewish deli items here too, such as babkas, kitkes and even chopped herring. Their coffee is from Deluxe and their bagels are the bee’s knees, what more reason do you need to stop by there for lunch today?



It wasn’t too long ago that we were waxing lyrical about Kleinsky’s eggs Benedict, but they make a mean bagel too. One of the meanest, in fact. Also made in-house with expert hands, Kleinsky’s lets you enjoy your bagel the way bubbe intended – with shmears (basically interesting spreads and toppings) or the classic smoked salmon and cream cheese. Be sure to partake in their other delicious menu offerings too, like the Benedict for example. Stop by for breakfast or lunch and be transported back to the holy land by way of Sea Point Main Road.


Bob’s Bagel Cafe

Servicing bagel cravings in Kalk Bay is Bob’s, who make their bagels with wholewheat stoneground flour, offering both the familiar New York-style along with the sweeter Montreal-style. Both bagel options come with your topping of choice, including cheddar and strawberry jam or cream cheese with mazarvaroo, a Mauritian chilli paste, served up alongside the classics. Hang out for a while and enjoy the view of the park with your bagel and a coffee and pretend you’re in New York for a minute.


Max Bagels

Over here at Crush HQ we can safely say that we would starve without our friends at Max Bagels. Forgotten lunches suddenly don’t seem so bad when you’re tucking into one of their toasted bagels. Our favourites include the Caprese with its ripe tomato and generous basil, often on an ‘everything’, and the bacon, avo and tomato or the ‘BAT’ as its fondly known. They also do tasty fresh pressed juices so be sure to keep your eye on the board for the flavour of the day.



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