Perhaps the earliest mention of Sonia El-Nawal’s adventures with the bagel that one can find online is an article by Jennifer Conlin, published in the New York Times in 1993, “The Bagel Lands in Belgium,” which tells the story of Spoonful Diner, where she introduced downtown Brussels to the bagel.
El-Nawal’s culinary life has taken her far and wide, but her heart has always remained in her native New York. In Las Vegas, she was behind Rooster Boy Cafe, a cafe and breakfast place in Desert Shores. In the last two years, however, she has found her way specifically back to bagels, with a new project, Bodega Bagel, which has been incubating at Vegas Test Kitchen and is now breaking out with a brick-and-mortar location in Henderson, in suite 116 at 10075 S Eastern Ave, near the intersection with St Rose Pkwy.
“I’d been wanting to open this brand for a long time,” El-Nawal told What Now on Tuesday, in a video call from the restaurant space. “I’ve been making bagels for years. And during the pandemic, I just thought, let’s start making bagels again.”
The camera revealed a well-lit space with comfortable seating along one wall and other seating yet to be added. At the counter is a glass case under which the bagels and other baked goods will be displayed, and there’s a special, nostalgic mood being put together here, snatches of an old time New York bagel shop. One visible knickknack says it all: “I <3 NY.”
In addition to its already-popular New York-style bagels, Bodega Bagels will feature a capacious menu, with breakfast classics like the Old School bagel sandwich with two eggs and American cheese, plus Lox & Eggs, Brisket & Eggs, Latkes, and more. The New York vibes show up in some of the sandwiches—pastrami, roast turkey, and hot corned beef—and in other savory options like Matzo Ball soup and Borscht. If you’re looking for something light, you can find try the Chef’s Salad or Israeli salad; and if you’re looking for dessert, the Babka or the Black-and-White Cookie will provide that extra bit of sweetness.
“It’s my love letter to New York,” El-Nawal said. “If you’re missing that vibe, this is where it’s going to be.”