If you’re looking for a great Jewish deli in Brookline, you have quite a few options. Roughly 35% of the neighborhood’s population is Jewish, with many Russian and Israeli immigrants, and the retail corridor on Harvard Street is a great place to go for Kosher goodies. Kupel’s Bakery, located in the heart of this section, is an absolute delight, and has a Best of Boston award to prove it. With dozens of varieties of fresh bagels and even more delicious flavors of cream cheese, it’s a great place to load up on treats that may not be terrific for your waistline but at least will be tasty enough to make up for it. As you might imagine, there’s a huge variety of pastries, from standard danishes, strudels, cookies, croissants, and bear claws.
You can also try a sufganiyah, which is essentially a jelly donut covered in powdered sugar, which is a popular Hanukkah treat. The tradition of eating sufganiyot (the plural of sufganiyah) dates back centuries – in fact, according to an Israeli folktale the name comes from a Hebrew expression that means “the end of the Garden of the Lord” because after Adam and Eve were evicted from Eden, sufganiyot were a gift God gave them as a consolation.
You should probably also try the hamentashen, a triangular cookie filled with fruit, chocolate, raisins, cheese, or poppy seeds. Hamentashen are generally associated with Purim, a Jewish holiday that celebrates a narrowly averted plan to kill the Jewish population in the Persian Empire. While there are a variety of stories about the exact interpretation of the word hamantashen, it is generally agreed on that they refer to Haman, the orchestrator of the plotted genocide, and that hamentashen are eaten to celebrate the failure of his plan and subsequent execution.
Kupel’s also has fantastic challah bread. Challah is a sweet braided bread that originated with Ashkenazi Jews, and is eaten for Shabbat and most major holidays. Challah usually contains no butter or milk, and gets its sheen from an egg wash that is brushed on before baking.
Finally, Kupel’s bagel sandwiches are absolutely stellar, and are named after Boston landmarks. Consisting of combinations of tuna, salmon, lox, or whitefish salad, Kupel’s flavored cream cheeses, chives, tomatoes, and onions, the only real drawback is that you can’t try them all in one visit. I tried the “Washington Square” at the recommendation of one of the regular patrons. It’s a blend of jalapeno cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers, lettuce, and tomato on one of Kupel’s fresh bagels, and it was terrific if you don’t mind the slight spiciness of the cream cheese. Kupel’s Bakery is one of those wonderful, family-owned, one-of-a-kind places that you dream of revisiting when you return to an area. Whether you live in Boston or are just passing through, you’ll be glad you stopped by.
Matthew Christopher MA Brookline Dec 15, 2021 Reviews