The smell of warm fresh bagels wafts around the exterior of the building, mixing with the sweet smell of donuts from Union Square half a block away. It’s Sunday morning and families, couples young and old, and hungover college students are lined up on the corner of Harvard Ave and Fuller Street near Boston University’s Charles River campus. Dogs are on leashes sitting on the sidewalk with their owners in line at family owned Kupel's Bakery. It’s cold, not brick, but cold enough that I’m wearing a beanie and a scarf tucked into the neck of my coat. We’re all patiently waiting for handmade seedy sesame bagels, toasted everything bagels, sundried tomato bagels, whole wheat everything bagels topped with a fresh cream cheese, with flavors ranging from plain tofutti to creamy lox spread.

Mia Groves

Inside The Bakery

Standing next in line, you might hear a new customer try to order a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, because they don’t know that Kupel’s (pronounced “Couples”) does not serve pork. The fridge of take home smoked salmon hugs the corner next to a pantry rack of discount day old bagels that stands to the left when you enter the bakery, and to the right are shelves of online order pickups.

Family owned Kupel’s Bakery opened in 1978, in the original location of Bagel King in Brookline. The opening took two years of renovating Bagel King into Kupel’s, and plenty of savings from owners Allan and Diane Kupelnick. Business began slowly. They sold the bakery years later to one of their long-time employees, who ended up running Kupel's for over 20 years.

On this busy morning, 6-8 workers fill the back of the front counter area, slinging bagels into the toaster, schmearing on cream cheese, and piling sandwiches with lox, onions, tomato, avocado. It feels like a family owned business; the staff is working hard with a family-like camaraderie, and the energy is fast-paced as trying to keep up with the machine spitting out receipts from online orders. 

Mia Groves

Through a clear glass case there's different cream cheese flavors and bagel toppings to the left of the registers; below the register and to the right are shelves of freshly baked pastries and breads available to purchase. Behind the cashier taking orders there is a wall filled with metal racks of bagels, labeled with cheeky flavor postcards; egg, poppy seed, blueberry, chocolate chip, cinnamon raisin, pumpernickel rye, garlic and others. Above, menu boards cover the upper third of the wall, filled with sandwiches named after Boston streets and locations. You can order the North Station, which comes with plain tofutti cream cheese, tomato, and red onion; the Copley with green onion olive cheese and cucumber; the Fenway with lox cream cheese, onions, and capers. 

The bagels are a good medium size, a bit bigger than a hockey puck. I can see through swinging doors located in the corner of the main bagel prep area, there are more employees filling the kitchen, folding dough and boiling bagels. It’s busy. An older man walks around with a notepad, controlling the line and corralling Postmate drivers. He asks people to wait outside for their order to be called, so the inside area of the bakery stays open.

Mia Groves

The Bagel

When my order number is called out by the employee behind the counter, I’m given a brown paper lunch bag with a receipt stapled to the folded over edge. Outside picnic style tables line up the curb, separated from the street by a painted traffic barrier covered with animated bagels.

Inside the wrapping is a shiny, extra-toasted marble rye bagel with plain tofutti cream cheese.

The first bite is warm and chewy, with a slight hardness to the exterior giving  way with a crunch to the softer interior of the bagel. The marble rye is sophisticated, pairing well with the in-house made tofutti cream cheese. Dark rye swirls with a fair white dough to marble the look of the bagel. The bagel is chewy, but not doughy. Kupel’s gets the job done, a solid bagel spot in Boston. They pride themselves on producing high quality ingredients and service.


Order ahead online through Toast Tab, or in-person. They offer a 10% student discount with ID shown at purchase. Family owned Kupel's Bakery is also mentioned in another Boston University Spoon member's bagel article linked here.

Mia Groves