Lil’ Market Deli & Bagelry, nestled in a charming space just steps away from busy Government Street in downtown Ocean Springs, serves award-winning bagels, bowls, sandwiches and an array of other delightful items.
After patiently waiting over a decade for someone to open a bagel-centric eatery, owner Oren Zweig, a charismatic fellow who professes to enjoy long, moonlit walks on the beach, took matters into his own hands.
“An authentic bagel was impossible to come by,” Zweig says. “I wanted a good bagel, and there weren’t any bagel shops on the Coast, so I decided to make my own.”
Born in Israel and raised in South Florida, Zweig moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and opened Lil’ Market in 2018 to introduce the area to some of the foods he grew up with. He also wanted to give customers something genuine rather than what they could find in a grocery store.
“For someone coming from the Northeast, our authentic bagels would be like a taste of home,” Zweig says. “Our bagels are made from scratch, hand-rolled and kettle boiled — the way they did it back in the day.”
Zweig is a self-taught bagel maker who spent countless hours experimenting with dough recipes until he formulated what he believes is the perfect taste and texture. Made in-house daily, Lil’ Market serves popular bagel flavors, including plain, everything, sesame, poppy, onion and cinnamon-raisin, as well as four specialty bagels: asiago, jalapeño cheddar, blueberry and cranberry pecan. You can choose to top your bagels with Boar’s Head cream cheese or a half-dozen blends of house flavors. All the ones I tried were delicious.
Bagels also are front and center in the made-to-order breakfast sandwiches served all day using Boar’s Head meat and cheeses and freshly cracked eggs. The Oye Vey is a play on a reuban, with corned beef, Swiss cheese, eggs and a house Russian sauce. The pork roll egg and cheese is made with an East Coast staple, Taylor Ham. You can get these sandwiches and others on biscuits or croissants, too.
There is much more to Lil’ Market than just bagels. Breakfast also consists of a variety of bowls made with traditional omelet ingredients, and for lunch, you can get salads and sandwiches loaded with almost a one-third pound of meat and cheese. Bread choices are ciabatta, sourdough, marble rye, croissant, wheat-berry, rosemary focaccia and, of course, bagels.
Lil’ Market’s philosophy can be summed up in its tagline, “When quality ingredients meet artisanal methods,” and this obviously applies to the items I tried on my visit. I started with the Italian sandwich on rosemary focaccia that is stuffed with mortadella, Genoa salami, pepperoni, lettuce, tomato, olive salad and mayo, served with a pickle spear on the side. It soon was evident that I would want to return to try all the sandwiches on the menu.
Up next was the highly popular “smash burger.” Made unlike traditional burgers, the smash burger is a handcrafted, 100 percent beef blend that is ground in-house, rolled like a meatball and smashed down on a hot flat top until it’s lightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Until recently, these mouthwatering burgers only were available once a week or when there was a special, but the public demanded them more often, so the six different varieties are now available daily.
Lil’ Market also has take-and-bake freezer meals in a variety of different sizes. The family-sized lasagna is a crowd favorite, and being the good boyfriend I am, I brought my girlfriend Lauryn home a personal chicken pot pie for dinner. She made a point of personally thanking Zweig for the delightful dinner.
Lil’ Market Deli & Bagelry is open Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch. Stop in for all your deli meat and cheese needs (Boar’s Head products are sliced fresh), and don’t forget to peek in the grab-and-go cooler to find tuna and chicken salads, dips, pimento cheeses and antipasto. Be sure to check Facebook for daily specials and more.
LIL’ MARKET DELI & BAGELRY
720 Bellande Ave., Ocean Springs