The Heights has a full-blown case of bagel fever.
Last week’s opening of Golden Bagels & Coffee, the eagerly anticipated new arrival from Katz Coffee owner Avi Katz and local attorney Gregg Goldstein, has been met with the sort of frenzy that’s usually reserved for institutions like Killen’s Barbecue or The Breakfast Klub. By 8:30 am Saturday morning, CultureMap found a 30-plus person line that snaked through most of the dining room.
Locally owned options like New York Bagels in Meyerland and Hot Bagel Shop near River Oaks have fed freshly made bagels to generations of Houstonians, but Golden deserves attention — thanks to Katz and Goldstein's commitment to doing things the old fashioned way.
After testing numerous recipes, Katz says the restaurant settled on an “old-world” approach for its bagels. Golden’s bagels are made in-house using a two-stage dough. They’re retarded to improve flavor then boiled and finally baked in a refurbished Cutler oven. Cream cheese and spreads — everything from classics like scallion-dill and veggie to more unusual combinations like roasted jalapeno and maple-pecan — are all made onsite. The restaurant even uses real blueberries in its blueberry bagel.
All of that would be enough to make Golden a valuable addition to The Heights, but the cafe is going a step beyond any other bagel purveyor in Houston by curing its own lox and nova. The restaurant developed recipes for both styles of smoked salmon in conjunction with the experts at Airline Seafood. Katz tells CultureMap that he plans to expand the offerings over time to include fresh Gulf fish that would give a local twist to deli staples like sable and whitefish.
For now, customers can experience the fish either in the lox cream cheese or on the classic salmon sandwich — Golden takes the "classic" designation so seriously that it only offers the sandwich with either plain or scallion-dill cream cheese. It’s also possible to order something more baroque — say, a honey whole wheat with sun dried tomato cream cheese and a side of lox — Golden just won’t let customers call it "classic."
Of course, Golden serves a full line of Katz coffee options: brewed, espresso, and cold brew. Juices, water, and real sugar sodas from Oak Cliff Beverage Works are also available.
Once breakfast has been fully dialed in, the restaurant will expand the menu with lunch offerings like a Reuben, turkey sandwich, pizza bagels, egg salad, and even grilled cheese. Veteran Houston chef Joe Apa (t’afia, Rudyard’s, etc.) is leading the kitchen, which opens up additional possibilities down the road like falafel, shakshuka, and even beignets.
“Ultimately, for me, getting the first thing right is so critical before you move on. We want to focus on selling the classic and the egg sandwich, because those things have been super popular. Then we’ll roll out fish plates and lunch very soon,” Katz says. “We have beautiful lines of people that we can barely accommodate properly, and so we need to work on our systems. Just make the experience here perfect.”
The lines and excitement on social media demonstrate that the experience is already pretty good. If it truly becomes “perfect,” or, at least, something close to that, Heights bagel fever will turn into a full-on epidemic.