If my mother hadn’t taken me to the Bagel Deli & Restaurant on East Hampden Avenue, I wouldn’t have given the place a second glance. Unlike the heaps of trendy eateries that pop in and out of Denver’s dining consciousness, this well-worn, family-owned joint has quietly served their brand of kosher-style deli food for decades.
The oodles of regulars, been-there-forever waitresses, and vintage photos and newspaper clippings dangling from the walls offer a glimpse into the 53-year history, which makes it Denver’s oldest continuously operated deli. Homespun charm aside, it’s the food that keeps this spot full of diners.
The classic pastrami on light rye is unbelievably fresh and lean, with just enough peppery spice. I usually stack the sandwich with turkey and Swiss, but more often, owners “Bagel Joe” and Rhoda Kaplan serve it with the traditional fixings: coleslaw and kicky Russian dressing. Or opt for the sky-high Reuben with hot corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss. The sandwich—tangy, flavorful, and satisfying—tastes of the Kaplans’ decades of experience layering flavors. And, for just about $12, it can easily feed two grown men.
Already a fan of lunch, I was delighted to discover the Bagel Deli’s breakfast. The bagels are dense and chewy, their made-daily freshness revealed in the first bite. A bagel, spread with homemade cream cheese is the perfect grab-and-go (unfortunately, the coffee is only mediocre). When I have more time, I order the Eggs Bagel-Dict (it’s trademarked), a piece of heaven on earth. The dense bagel halves arrive topped with a layer of pastrami and two poached eggs, all soaked in buttery hollandaise. The rich sauce has a way of turning pastrami into the ideal breakfast meat.
Underneath it all, Bagel Deli dishes homemade comfort. Dine here and you’ll likely leave feeling like a loyal friend—one who is bound to return time and again.