There is nothing as satisfying as taking the first bite into warm, fresh bread. District Bagel is a bakery that aims to blend this experience with a welcoming hangout spot. With a vast menu of bagels, coffees, and other comfort foods, such as pizza, lasagna, and paninis, the place offers fresh, kosher options for all to enjoy. With the second branch of this 12-year-old bakery opening on Parc Avenue by the corner of Bernard Avenue, customers can now enjoy their meal with the scenery of the iconic Mile End neighbourhood.
“We have a very nice seating area, […] we have wifi [and] a [variety] of food to enjoy,” Samuel Itzkowitz, the general manager of the branch, said. “You can come over with friends, have a conversation, or just come to study with a view of Parc Avenue. It’s just a very cozy place.”
The interior design of the new District Bagel location differs from other bakeries in the area in that they have a place that bears similarity to a welcoming living room. Patrons can enjoy the bakery’s goods as a complement to their break from busy life, or as a pick-me-up while they get their work done. With widely-spaced furniture and large wooden tables reminiscent of a living room, people can sit for hours in comfort and enjoy its cozy ambience.
Another reason to stop by District Bagel is the quality of their food. While the shop is not a traditional restaurant per se, they offer a wide variety of meals and other à-la-carte options that cater to a wide variety of palates, all of which are freshly made. Itzkowitz discussed the high standards that the chain upholds to deliver quality bagels.
“[The bagels are] made every day […] in the morning,” Itzkowitz said. “They’re shipped here not [lukewarm], but hot [and] are made in a brick oven. The bakers bake until one o’clock, and then […] they start making the dough for the next day.”
The bakery serves a cornucopia of bagels, with a variety of flavours that are a must-try for those looking for a slight twist on the beloved pastry.
“We produce kosher bagels, [and] we have all kinds,” Itzkowitz said. “We have regular, sesame, whole wheat, multi-grain, jalapeno, cinnamon, all kinds of flavours.”
Being a kosher catering business, the bakery takes these restrictions seriously. Their decision to open a branch in the heart of the Mile End reflects their desire to serve the Jewish communities of the neighbourhood. For Itzikowitz, growing up in an area of trendy restaurants in Brooklyn, as well as his experiences working with another kosher joint, was key to creating a hip and inclusive bakery-hangout spot.
“I’m from a neighbourhood called Williamsburg, [where] my grandfather actually worked in a restaurant [there],” Itzkowitz said. “Then, I got married to a girl in Montreal, so I [moved] here [and] I worked at Deli 365 on Bernard, [which] is the second [oldest] kosher deli in Montreal.”
For Itzikowitz, the switch from working at a deli to a bakery was a no brainer.
“Kosher food [doesn’t allow us to] mix meat and dairy,” Itzikowitz said. “We are strictly a dairy place, and over [at Deli 365] they are strictly meat […. so when] I got an offer from District Bagel. […] I [knew that I] love bagels more than meat so I took it, and I’m very happy.”
So whether you are looking for a place to hang out with friends over paninis or are finding a delicious restaurant that places a strong emphasis on kosher restrictions, District Bagel is definitely a place to try.