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your favorite Bay Area bakeries

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Greetings, chowhounders-

I'm doing some research on bakeries in the area and would love to query *your* favorites. If there's a place that makes your mouth water just thinking about it, I want to hear about it!

Please keep locations limited to the smaller Bay area (East, South, the City and Marin) and if you can, include the address.

Thanks! In the near future, I'm thinking about putting together a roving bakery band to try places out...let me know if you'd be interested.

Thanks! am

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  1. Your club only needs to make one stop, Tartine Bakery. They serve what has to be the best pastry ever, the morning bun, orange and cinnamon tinged, rolled in granulated sugar right out of the oven, this light cinnamon roll like creation, without the goo and frosting, is phenomenal, but get there early if you want one. This place has defining versions of pain au chocolat, ham and gruyere croissants, buttery light and flaky. I love the hazelnut and chocolate tarts. The hot sandwiches are incredible, using fresh baked breads, incredible meats and cheeses. I could go on, but I'm salivating onto my keyboard.

    Tartine Bakery
    600 Guerrero St.
    (Guerrero @ 18th)
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    phone: 415.487.2600
    hours: Tuesday - Sunday (7:30 am - 7 pm)
    Monay (8 am - 2 pm)

    3 Replies
    1. re: JL

      so many wonderful suggestions, thank you. i definitely need to explore East bay offerings more...

      .and 'dough dive' coming soon, aiming for mid-April. i'll post to list and then set up a private e-mail for more plans.

      chowhound rules. thanks!

      1. re: JL

        I agree with the above - there is nothing in my world that can compare to anything fresh out of the oven at Tartine. pain au jambon, pain au chocolat, bread pudding, Chad's bread!! I am drooling right now so I must stop.

        1. re: JL

          We stopped by Tartine last week on the urging of many on the LA board who touted this place. I didn't find their croissants to my liking - far too buttery for my tastes. But the croque monsieur and bread pudding were fantastic. In fact, we thought everything we tried (aside from the croissants) were worth the visit.

          Having spent the last 10 days as a tourist from Santa Cruz through Tomales Bay in north Marin, I should also mention Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station, and Tomales Bakery in the little town of Tomales. Like Tartine to a smaller extent, all they do is bake and the focus is very strong at both of these places.

        2. Acme.

          The breads have been famous for years, but the pastries (which are available only at the bakeries in Berkeley and the SF Ferry Building) are wonderful. Great croissants. Cinnamon swirls. Ham and cheese croissants. Apple turnovers.

          Yummy, yummy, yummy!

          Also, Boniere Bakery on Park St. in Alameda makes some good stuff, including delicious ham and cheese biscuits (or do they call them scones?). And I'll stack up the apple struedel and the cinnamon (aka morning) bun at Sophia Bakery (also on Park St.) against anyone (I think their version is better than then much-vaunted morning bun at La Farine).

          7 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            I would vote for La Baguette in the Stanford Shopping Center. They have the best fruit tarts and when I was in the East Coast, I had someone deliver them when they flew to CA for a job interview :)

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Since we're updating this thread, Sophia Bakery is long gone, and Boniere has changed hands. Their pastries are only so-so, but they do have a good selection of tasty petit fours, which is a rarity in the Bay Area.

              My go-to bakery now in Alameda is Feel Good Bakery in the Alameda Marketplace. The breads are all wonderful -- my favorites are the French baguette (they make a couple of different baguettes), the wholey moley and the cranberry walnut, which is great to serve with cheese -- the croissants have been up and down but are up at the moment (except Wednesdays, which must be the regular baker's day off). I had an individual potato leek quiche today that was expensive ($5.50) but absolutely delicious. In general, I think the prices for their pastries are high, but their breads are competitively priced with other artisan bakers.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Forgot the locators:

                Feel Good Bakery
                1650 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Speaking only of unflavored breads, Feel Good's are pretty good but I'd buy there only if I didn't have time to get some Acme.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    For some reason I typed cranberry walnut -- it's actually current walnut. They do make a cranberry pumpkin seed bread, but that's a lighter bread than the dark, dense current walnut.

                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Ruth: Well, I have to confess my sin of gluttony earlier this week. I was only going stop by Acme to pick up a Pain Epi and a Seeded Wheat, but noooooo
                    ooooooooooo! I just couldn't stop myself from getting a ham and cheese turnover. I ate it in the car with a $50 cafe au lait from Cafe Fanny. Okay, it's not $50, but it is really overpriced for such a small cup.

                    Glad also to hear of a place for good morning buns. I truly love La Farine's version when they are cooked through. However, I've found that too often they're almost raw dough in the center. Yuck.

                    I admit that I only get them 3 or 4 times a year, but still. Glad to hear about Sophia Bakery.

                    1. re: oakjoan

                      That post was from 2004 -- Sophia is, unfortunately, long gone, as noted in another post above. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2846... and Boniere changed hands as well and no longer makes those yummy ham and cheese biscuits.

                      Glad you enjoyed the ham and cheese turnover from Acme, though.

                  3. Four favorites in Berkeley(sort of in order of preference):

                    Crixa, on Adeline, catty-corner from the Berkeley Bowl--dense, not overly sweet, East-European-ish pastries--an amazing apple pie, small buttery pastries filled w/ prune or poppy seed (kufli?), wonderful ginger cake, great individual Boston cream pies, terrific coffees and teas, and a very pleasant room in which to sit

                    Lola's, on Solano, mid-way (on the block w/ Barney's)--sweet and savory pastries--I love their jammers (a large and light and buttery cookie topped w/ jam)--crostadas, cakes, pies (also a great Boston cream, but they vary the selection, so that may not be there when you visit)--they also do "real" food (recently named one of the top 5 or 10 roasted chickens in the entire Bay Area by the SF Chronicle)--take-out only

                    Cafe Fanny--not technically a bakery (next to the Acme Bakery)--San Pablo and Cedar--but they have super baked stuff--to-die-for millet muffins in the AM (this is Alice Waters' place, and the muffins are apparently her mother's or grandmother's recipe), exceptional cakes and other sweets in the afternoon--they sometimes do something called a Belgian sugar cake that takes a few days to make, w/ pastry layers and custard--perfection. Also other non-bakery fare (great eggs in the AM, sandwiches and the like later in the day).

                    Cheeseboard Collective, Shattuck and Vine--obviously known for its extraordinary selection of cheeses, but, as is evidenced in their new cookbook, wonderful breakfast pastries and fabulous baguettes and other breads as well--one of my favorite breakfasts is one of their baguette pieces w/ jam and sweet butter, accompanied by a latte from the original Peets, just up the road

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: susabelle

                      Specific Cheeseboard favorites:

                      Pecan rolls
                      Cheese rolls
                      and especially when they are warm out of the oven - Chocolate things - so good!

                      Arizmendi on Lakeshore has the same offerings, but they do not seem quite as good, the pastries and rolls often seem too dry.

                      Grand Bakery at 3264 Grand Avenue is a kosher bakery with excellent challah, macaroons, etc.

                      I also like cinnamon twists from Na Bolom in Berkeley, 2708 Russell St, right off College in Elmwood.

                      1. re: piegirl

                        Nabolom is fantastic. Their morning buns and cinnamom twists are buttery and rich. They also make the greatest cheese danishes I have ever had.

                        2708 Russell St Berkeley

                        1. re: piegirl

                          a friend just told me that Grand Bakery, Oakland makes the Best challah around.

                          Grand Bakery
                          3264 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

                          1. re: hhc

                            There have been several whole topics on the best challah since that 2004 post:


                      2. c
                        Cyrus J. Farivar

                        The Bread Garden on Domingo (next door to Peet's, across from the Claremont Hotel) in Berkeley has been a longtime family favorite. Their ginger cookies, pesto bread, and pastries are always a hit.

                        I also like La Farine on College Ave. in north Oakland, south of the Elmwood district, just across from Safeway at College/Claremont. Croissants are superb.

                        1. in a sleightly different vein from the afore mentioned - Golden Gate Bakery on Grant Ave. in SF Chinatown makes the perfect egg custard tart....many of their other offerings are also beloved by others. Across town - Cafe Bakery 1345 Noriega St. SF 94122 makes my favorite baked BBQ pork bun.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: gordon wing

                            love golden gate bakery, it worth the drive from south bay to Chinatown

                          2. one more!

                            Liberty Cafe on Cortland street in Bernal Heights. In the back of the restaurant lies a demure and delicious Americana inspired Bakery. Sara Spearin is the pastry chef.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: sailorbuoys

                              Love Liberty bakery! The semolina loaf, only available on Sundays I think, is a dense bit of chewy lovin'. Not to be missed. I especially love the cozy cafe seating outdoors on a warm, sunny day. Adorable.

                              1. re: iwantmytwodollars

                                Every single thing Liberty Bakery makes is dense and chewy, even things that should not be dense and chewy. It's my neighborhood bakery, and I am passionate about bakeries, and Liberty is solidly mediocre to poor. They have this large, beautiful kitchen with to-die-for equipment, and I understand that creating the bakery cost a fortune. I know they make desserts for the restaurant, but the bakery has this teeny-weeny little display case. If you get there at 10:00 on a weekday, they often have almost *nothing* left. I just don't understand their business model at all.

                                Oh, and gods forbid you get behind a couple of people who both want a couple of espresso drinks. One person at the counter during the busiest of times with no back-up makes for a slooooooow moooooving line.

                                For an "Americana-inspired" bakery, Destination in Glen Park is 100 times better.

                                1. re: Atomica

                                  Seconded--mediocre bakery, though their seasonal pumpkin muffins are good, and it's a really beautiful space. I've heard their pizzas aren't bad.

                              2. One more of Berkeley's best and some more raves for Tartine and the Cheeseboard Collective.

                                Masse's Pasteries -- Just down the street from the Cheeseboard, Masse's offers an incredible selection of fanstasic cakes and tarts. Besides a number of ridiculous chocolate creations one of my favorites is their mango mousse cake. Best of all, each of their creations is available as a full cake or single serving mini-cake, so you can try them all. Personally, I also think their croissant ranks as the best of the East bay. Details below.

                                Cheeseboard - If you have not had their Asiago cheese roll fresh out of the oven you really have not lived. Its tough on the waistline, but good on the soul.

                                Tartine - Speaking of the soul. Their grilled fois gras and jam sandwich is probably the most expensive sandwich I have ever eaten ($12?) So good, its a bargin at twice that price.

                                Masse's Pastries
                                1469 Shattuck Avenue (near Vine)
                                Berkeley, CA 94709
                                (510) 649-1004

                                Mon, Wed, Thurs: 8:00-6:00
                                Fri, Sat: 8:00-7:00
                                Sun 8:00-5:00

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Dybbster

                                  Besides having the best cheese selection around, the Cheeseboard has great baked goods. My favorites are the seeded bagettes, ginger short bread, and the provalone cheese bread (on Saturday)

                                  1. re: Dybbster

                                    Eat that cheese roll right away and it's heaven, if heaven had 100 calories a bite. Two hours later it's cardboard dipped in grease and allowed to set in the shape of a roll.

                                    1. re: lintygmom

                                      I prefer the cheese scone... wish they made it every day. The Lakeshore branch only makes it on Wednesdays - I always run over right after work to see if they have any left. Super buttery and tender, must be a stick of butter per scone. Just enough scallion to amplify the butter and cheese. I always pick the one with the most frico-like browned melted cheese stuck to the edge.

                                      1. re: lintygmom

                                        10 - 15 seconds in the microwave brings that cheese roll to life. Microwave it too long though and bite in and it will be permanently attached to your teeth.

                                        1. re: lintygmom

                                          I disagree...the cheese rolls are NEVER cardbord-y, they're instead tough, tough, tough and rubbery.

                                        2. re: Dybbster

                                          I LOVE Masse's!! We got our wedding cake there in 2001 and still get compliments on it. I try to use them whenever we need a special occasion dessert and I don't have the time to bake something myself. I'm quick to refer them to friends when I can, all of which have walked away happy.

                                          Some other great places are:

                                          Crixa on Adeline in Berkeley across from the Bowl. They're not the friendliest bunch, but their tasty creations more than make up for it. Try the pear pie when it's in season, fresh ginger cake, and the amaretti cream cake. http://www.crixacakes.com/

                                          and Sweet Adeline on Adeline in Oakland. It's the sweetest little shop, not pretentious and the baked goods are like homemade. The almond tea cakes are simply lovely. http://www.sweetadelinebakeshop.com/

                                        3. In Marin there's A Taste Of Tyrol bakery and lunchroom in the Northgate I shopping strip in Terra Linda. Excellent croissants and danishes and very good coffee makes this a breakfast destination. Gorgeous cakes and a large variety of cookies and pastries are on display.

                                          Le Croissant on Bellam in San Rafael has just as good or better croissants and danishes, and not much else of a bakery nature. There's indoor and outdoor seating, and their breakfasts and lunches are excellent.

                                          1. A shoutout for my homies in the GlenPark area, Destintation Baking Co., 598 Chenery St. Recommended items include the cheese sticks, chocolate angelfood cake and moon pies.

                                            1. For those of us in the South Bay...
                                              Wilson's is my personal favorite...Very American style bakery; reminds me of my Granfather. Great cakes (they did our wedding cake) and good rolls- Parker, cresant...
                                              1285 Homestead Rd Santa Clara, CA 95050-5404. Google them for their website.
                                              I haven't been personally, but Aki's in San Jose gets rave reviews for their Guava Cream cakes.
                                              Aki's Bakery 355 Meridian Avenue San Jose, Ca 95126. They also have a website.
                                              Icing on the Cake, located in Los Gatos, has positive reviews.
                                              There was a bakery thread a little while ago...but I'm having trouble finding the thread.

                                              1. Wow! I had to read the previous postings twice to make sure I wasn't missing something...I can't believe that nobody mentioned the Boulangeries from Bay Breads. There is one on Pine@Fillmore, Polk near Green, one in Cole Valley, and one in the Marina (on Steiner I think). The breads are great, the sandwiches are simple and delicious, and the gougeres on Sundays are out of this world. They also have cakes and cookies and delightfully clueless French folks behind the counter.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: srr

                                                  Bay Breads' Pine/Fillmore location is a full bakery and has a far greater selection than their other cafe locations (Cole, Polk, etc.). The pastries are indeed incredible, among them the tarte tatin and sticky bun. Everything I've had there has been exceptional.

                                                  1. re: srr

                                                    You forgot to mention the best part of these Pascal Rigo boulangeries, the canneles! These are the only places in town I've seen them, and they're absolutely delicious.

                                                    1. re: Malik

                                                      Malik: The only other place I've seen caneles is at a newish restaurant in L.A. (in Atwater!!! of all places - see L.A. reviews) and they give them away as you leave after dinner. The place is called.....Canele!

                                                      A great place to eat stuff other than caneles, too.

                                                    2. re: srr

                                                      It IS a travesty nobody mentioned Bay Bread until now, srr. As Arnie points out, the one on Pine is the best as far as selection: Moist, sweet canneles. Light, airy palmiers. Weightless macarons. And ridiculously good loaves of the bready bread you need for pairing with cheese, olive oil, dinner. Also, the prices are far more reasonable than what you might pay for LaBrea etc. at Whole Foods. Four dollars for a baguette? Give me an effin' break.

                                                      The only think lacking is that it does not have the cafe seating/atmosphere like the locations. But I take that as a positive, because if they did have tables, they would be even more mobbed and the product might suffer.

                                                      1. re: iwantmytwodollars

                                                        In addition to the several posts above, there have been hundreds of posts about Bay Bread / Boulange de ... / Boulangerie de ... on this board since 2004, when most of the posts in this topic were made.

                                                    3. After watching Bread Garden begin baking croissants many many years ago as a coffee/croissant stand for commuters, snacked my way through La Farine (both in Berkeley/Oakland)and their fabulous morning buns and equally wonderful croissants, tried and loved the pastries at Masse, I finally have arrived at loving the pastries at Crixa (Berkeley, Adeline across an angle from Berkeley Bowl). What is it about this little place? That it's not full of perfect cakes (although there are cakes), but rather quirky perhaps more mittel-european pastries. There is usually something there unusual. A delicious rum mousse cake, "floudi" fruit filled pastries, poppy seed and plum puree fillings, and last week a morsel so good, but I couldn't really say what was so very good about this. Delicious coffee, very good cold teas (oolongs, often). Is it a little Hungarian? Don't know. But I go once a week to look and then enjoy, bring things home for others. She makes little Boston cream pies. I haven't eaten baked goods on a once a week basis for years.

                                                      1. Copenhagen Bakery

                                                        Its located on Burlinggame Ave. in Burlingame and is a very good Danish/Scandinavian bakery that carries a series of specialties we haven't found elsewhere in the bay area.


                                                        Link: http://www.copenhagenbakery.com/

                                                        1. I really like Bake Sale Betty's. It's located at 51st and Telegraph in Oakland. Besides all the great baked goodies, I love (really love) the fried chicken sandwich.


                                                          1. Sometimes I catch myself fantasizing about the lemon tart at Tartine. They also made this fantastic fresh apricot & raspberry tart over the summer. I find their sandwiches a little bit greasy (still tasty, but greasy) and their brownie is too sweet for me.

                                                            I've actually had bad experiences at the Boulange/Bay Bread on Union in Cow Hollow (dry, borderline rancid-tasting brioche and stale pain de mie).

                                                            La Baguette in Palo Alto is consistently good. Draeger's (upscale grocery store in Menlo Park & they have other locations) had the most amazing strawberry cheesecake a few years ago -- haven't had it since then but it was perfect. Had a strawberry cake from Satura in Los Altos that was delicious -- light, delicate, and not too sweet.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: likespandas

                                                              If you dream about the lemon tart at Tartine, then you need to try the lemon bars at Bakesale Betty. Delicious and extremely vibrant flavor. Or try the lemon slushee if they have it that day.

                                                              1. re: likespandas

                                                                Downtown Bakery & Creamery in Healdsburg and the Saturday Ferry Plaza market makes a fabuous lemon tart.

                                                                So does La Farine in Berkeley.

                                                                Do any bakeries around here make Shaker Lemon Tart?

                                                              2. Since this thread has revived, it seems a fitting place to put my two favorite Marin bakeries, written about elsewhere here but deserving a place in this "best" list..

                                                                Flour Chylde in old town Novato. They have really excellent chocolate and other pastries, probably the best of type I've had.

                                                                Fat Angel in Farifax continues to stun me with their Farmer's Market scone (savory, not sweet) and various wonderful sweet pastry including some great chocolate ones. Again, the best of type to me.

                                                                The two places do different types of things. Someone with more experience with baking could describe the difference better than I can. Just go to both and see for yourself.

                                                                Fat Angel
                                                                71 Broadway

                                                                Flour Chylde Baking Company
                                                                850 Grant Avenue

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                                  In southern Marin, don't miss La Boulange in Mill Valley's Strawberry Village. Nice atmosphere, reasonable prices and a delicious selection!

                                                                  1. re: annalou

                                                                    Just a note that this is another Bay Bread bakery.

                                                                    1. re: annalou

                                                                      Yeah, there are six other locations in SF.

                                                                      Bay Bread
                                                                      2325 Pine St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                                                    2. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                                      Does anyone know if Flour Chylde pastries are available in the East Bay anywhere? A couple of years ago they had a stand at the Jack London Farmer's Market and I fell in love with their chocolate torte or whatever it was. It was one of the best chocolate desserts I've ever had. Then, they disappeared from that market and I haven't seen them since (sniff).

                                                                      Looking at their website, they seem to be available only at a few venues in Marin. Maybe I'll have to make it up to that Sunday market in San Rafael one of these days.

                                                                    3. Icing on the Cake in Los Gatos, Flower Flour in San Jose (Willow Glen), and for princess cake, Bijan's on Saratoga Ave and Kiely in San Jose. There used to be a place in Saratoga, Marjolaines. I think they are no longer there, but they turn up at S. Bay farmer's markets like downtown SJ and Campbell, under the name of Margaret or Marguerite's or something like that. At least I think it's the same, although I can't remember why I think that, maybe somebody told me or I read it somewhere.

                                                                      1. On the peninsula Esther's German Bakery is fabulous. Some of my favorite products are their pretzel dinner rolls which have a slightly crunchy lightly salted crust with a pillowy center , the seeded twists which are a cheesy heaven and the dark rye, an honest to goodness no holds barred Russian style rye. The Bee Sting is a yeasted sweet bread layered with custard and glazed with honey. Just writing about them makes me crave one. Esther's does not have their own retail outlet but but a number of local merchant's carry their products. I generally go to either the Milk Pail in Palo Alto or Robert's Market in Woodside. I believe they also have a stand at a number of Farmer's Markets.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: artychokeasana

                                                                          Esther's makes the best German-style rye breads I've found lately. Berkeley Bowl carries some.

                                                                          1. re: artychokeasana

                                                                            They're at the Sunday Montclair Farmer's Market in Oakland. I really like their stuff too.

                                                                          2. Gerry's Cakes in Menlo Park! The Gem of the City. The only bakery I go to if I don't do it myself.

                                                                            1141 Chestnut Street
                                                                            Menlo Park, CA 94025
                                                                            Phone: (650) 326-6282
                                                                            Fax: (650) 326-9272

                                                                            1. I like Mary's Bakery in Fremont, CA. We have some pictures on our blog that show off a few of their goods. They have a variety of pastries and bread to select from.


                                                                              1. I must agree with Icing on the Cake being on of the best in the South Bay. They a great Anzac cook and really flavorful cupcakes and hostess cupcake looking cakes. Yummy. I also like Fleur de Cocoa for their Royale Cake. The croissants are also great there. Ester's German Bakery definitely has some great breads too. They just opened two new locations in Los Altos/Mountain View.

                                                                                Icing on the Cake
                                                                                50 W Main St
                                                                                Los Gatos, CA, 95030

                                                                                Fleur de Cocoa
                                                                                39 N Santa Cruz Ave
                                                                                Los Gatos, CA, 95030

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: misspiggy

                                                                                  I like the cookies at Icing on the Cake more than the cakes, which often taste like they have been frozen. My favorite bakery by far is Gayles in Capitola (admittedly out of the range requested). I had some good stuff at Citizen Cake and while I've never been to Tartine, I own the cookbook. Miette in the Ferry building has very good pastries as well.

                                                                                  1. re: misspiggy


                                                                                    Fleur De Cocoa
                                                                                    39 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                    Icing On the Cake
                                                                                    50 W Main St, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                  2. Martha's Pastries in Menlo Park for breads, rolls, pastries, pies, cakes, quiches, cookies, croissants, espresso drinks, teas, juices, and space indoors or out to enjoy your treats.

                                                                                    Big business in holiday pies and her fabulous challah sells out early on Fridays.

                                                                                    Martha's Pastries
                                                                                    325 Sharon Park Dr # 12, Menlo Park, CA