Restaurant News & Reviews

People stand in line for bagels at this food truck. Soon they won’t have to wait

El Bagel, the food truck known for its hand-made bagels sold out of a food truck behind Boxelder Craft Beer Market in Wynwood, will open a permanent location in Wywnood.
El Bagel, the food truck known for its hand-made bagels sold out of a food truck behind Boxelder Craft Beer Market in Wynwood, will open a permanent location in Wywnood. Handout

Lines formed early Saturday mornings behind a craft beer bar in Wynwood, but people weren’t there for an early buzz. They were there for the bagels.

Matteson Koche parked his El Bagel food truck behind Boxelder Craft Beer Market, and anyone not queued at 10 a.m. likely missed out his hand-rolled, vegan bagels and bagel sandwiches.

Koche, 27, may have just solved that problem.

El Bagel will open a permanent location at 6910 Biscayne Blvd. in the MiMo district, Koche said. He signed a lease for the 1,200 square foot space, which will have indoor and patio seating for bagel lovers in Little Haiti, Morningside and Little River. He will continue running El Bagel’s food truck on the weekends, at Boxelder Saturday and Vice City Bean coffee shop Sunday, until his restaurant opens in May.

“We wanted to take it slow and let it grow naturally,” Koche said.

El bagel truck

Fans have been clamoring for it since he started selling his bagels out of a truck in the summer of 2017 as a side hustle.

It wasn’t easy. Koche, a graduate of urban planning and design, had been working in city planning, first for the city of Miami, later for the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District while running his business. He rolled bagels in the morning before work and sold them on the weekend out of the truck, which he bought for $15,000. (The day he bought the truck it caught fire on the way home.)

But the quality of his bagels quickly earned him loyal followers, which tracked him on Instagram. Fans would line up behind Boxelder at exactly 10 a.m., even on rainy mornings. The bagels always sell out.

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Koche’s cold-ferments his bagels for two days and uses no preservatives to keep the bagels soft. He boils them, bakes them and makes sandwiches out of them using local ingredients that don’t use artificial preservation methods, he said. The salmon is smoked in Little Haiti. Proper Sausages in Miami Shores makes his bacon. The cult-favorite King Guava sandwich with cream cheese, a fried egg from cage-free chickens and potato sticks uses Redland guava marmalade from PG Tropicals. (Although Koche is Jewish and the ingredients are kosher, the truck is not.)

He keeps it traditional, too. He’ll scoop out the bagels if customers ask: “Listen, it hurts me every time, but this is a free market. It’s allowed but frowned upon.”

And the poppy, everything, salt, sesame and plain bagels are toasted only upon request. “Schmears” include butter, charred scallion, beets, tomato jam and avocado (it’s Wynwood, after all). The bagels cost $2.50 and sandwiches start at $8.

Credit Koche’s parents, who raised him and his brother, Zach, who does all of El Bagel’s marketing, in a “super-hippie organic household,” he said. His father, Hank, keeps vegan. And his mother, Marla, designed several of the recipes on the truck, including the salmon roe bagel sandwiches.

“I used to get made fun of for taking tofu and stuff to school for lunch,” he said.

Look who’s laughing now.

“I’m finally cool,” he said.

El Bagel

Address: Saturdays, 10 a.m. at Boxelder Craft Beer Market, 2817 NW 2nd Ave., Miami

Coming soon: 6910 Biscayne Blvd., Miami

More info:

Miami Herald food editor Carlos Frías won the 2018 James Beard award for excellence in covering the food industry. A Miami native, he’s also the author of “Take Me With You: A Secret Search for Family in a Forbidden Cuba.”