A taste of New York has come to Abu Dhabi — bagels. If you are from New York or studied abroad for a semester, you may be missing the comfort of this creation, smothered with thick cream cheese and toasted to perfection. The bagel is to New York what shawarma is to Abu Dhabi: a simple delicious delight.
“The Bagel Bar is fantastical,” said Visiting Professor of Social Sciences Roger Friedland and a Bagel Bar regular. “A Jewish deli filled with Arabs and served by Asians — it is the perfect po-mo lunch.”
The Bagel Bar opened its doors in Abu Dhabi just two months ago and is already very popular amongst expats and Emiratis alike. First in the Dubai mall, the bagel craze migrated south to Abu Dhabi, keeping workers on short lunch breaks and families happy for a light lunch treat.
The café offers a variety of bagel sandwiches from the West Coast — a strange name for a cream cheese, lox and red onion bagel — to the Halloumi cheese bagel. For students who want a traditional bagel with cream cheese, the store has seven dough varieties including sun-dried tomato, sesame and raisin that can be toasted for 14 AED. Not a bad price for a sweet memory of the big city.
Besides bagels, the store offers salads, baked potatoes and an assortment of desserts, from banana cream pie to tiramisu. Customers can take bagels to go or lounge in the indoor and outdoor seating areas. As the weather improves, the patio is perfect for an afternoon study session with a bagel and a frappucino for 19 AED.
Rizwan, the manager, laughed as he explained that before working at The Bagel Bar, he didn’t know what bagels were.
“Now I very [much] like bagels,” he said.
The Bagel Bar evokes a wave of nostalgia for Friedland.
“I miss the attitude of impatience, irony and sweet surliness in an ‘East Coast deli’,” he said.
Photo by Nicole Lopez del Carril/The Gazelle
Unlike New York deli owners, who are known for their short tempers, the Bagel Bar staff is very cheerful and friendly. They were all smiles as they talked about their favorite bagels, which Rizwan explained makes them and the customers happy. Their good humor reflected their great service, offering suggestions and chatting about the store’s popularity. Rizwan said the store brought him great joy.
“We are family,” he said. “We are a team, always joking.”
The Bagel Bar is a 6 AED cab ride from Sama. It is located in the Ground Floor of the Vision Twin Tower 2 by the Nissan Showroom in the Madinat Zayed Neighborhood. In the cooler months, it is close enough to walk over.
Nicole Lopez del Carril is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.