Historically there has been no such thing as a bagel shop in Madrid. Sure, you could buy a crappy round piece of bread with a hole in the middle at Starbucks, or get your bagel fix at J&J's Books and Coffee. You could perhaps find the straggling bagel at a hipster expat brunch place, but a locale dedicated to this gluten-lover's American breakfast staple? You were out of luck. Until Tamara Cohen came on the scene.
What started a few years ago as selling Thanksgiving pumpkin pies to American expats in Madrid eventually evolved into Bruja's Bakery, a made-to-order bagel, challah, and dessert production that Tamara ran from her apartment. I met her in the fall of 2018, while she was busy teaching English online, taking a course on how to open a restaurant, and running Brujas. In the following months, her business would take off and eventually evolve into the brick-and-mortar manifestation of the whole operation: Mazál Bagels and Cafe.
I visited the cafe a few days ago to congratulate Tamara (and try a bagel), and I fortunately caught the bakery at a slow moment, a rarity since the shop opened in mid-January. Tamara commented to me that they have frequently been running out of bagels, and when I arrived she had even hidden some bagels in the back to reserve for sandwiches—people have been buying bagels by the dozen to take home and save, and it's been hard to keep up with such booming business. Weekend lines are out the door, and the bakery's owner is still learning how to streamline the process and work out the kinks.
But fear not, because the fact that the bakery has been swamped has had no affect on bagel quality, and my toasted jalapeño cheddar bagel was just as I hoped it would be. Perfectly toasted on the outside and doughy, even fluffy, on the inside, and they do not skimp on the cream cheese. But bagels aren't your only option. Though their numerous types of bagel sandwiches are Mazál's protagonists, there were a variety of cakes and cookies on display, and you can still order pies, challah, and other desserts.
The locale is cute, with quirky bagel art decorating the industrial chic interior brick walls, but note that its quaintness lends to little in-house seating. The cafe can sit at most a dozen clients at a time, but don't let that deter you, as you can always get your bagel sandwich to go. Madrid has finally gotten what it has so long been waiting for, and if business keeps up at this rate, Mazál won't be going away anytime soon.