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Best Baguette In Bay Area

  • m

After trying many bakeries in the bay area the ranking order of the top choices would be:

1. Acme Rustic Baguette (lifespan: 3 days, very consistent quality)
2. Bay Bread Baguette (lifespan: 2 days, consistent quality)
3. LaBrea Sweet Baguette (lifespan: 2 days, somewhat variable quality, sometimes a slightly underbaked flavor)
4. Arizmendi Baguette (lifespan: 1/2 day, good but only for a very limited time, very dense)

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  1. c
    Cyrus J. Farivar

    What about Bread Garden in Berkeley? Or La Farine in Oakland?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Cyrus J. Farivar

      Yeah, what about the Bread Garden in Berkeley? If there's a better baguette around here than their 19th Century Baguette...well I don't know what. Its tremendous crust is almost buttery, if that makes any sense. Get it at their store (Ashby around Domingo, next to Rick & Ann's) or at the Berkeley Bowl.

    2. k
      k. gerstenberger

      The crust on an Acme baguette, regardless of type, is "best" for a few hours after purchase from the bakery. It has a distinctly different crispness, almost fragility of texture. It also helps if the bread is cooled, but still retains a little bit of the oven warmth.

      My dog believe it or not has a bread palate. He prefers fresh Acme. He will actually walk away from lesser bread.

      1. Scotty's in Terra Linda (San Rafael) used to have warm-from-the-oven bread available in the afternoon. The smell would fill the car and drive me crazy. The brand was "Dominic's". They still carry bread under that name, but warm and fragrant is a thing of the past, alas.

        1. Cheese Board Berkeley, without a doubt

          1 Reply
          1. re: charcot

            I agree completely. When my husband and I were first married we lived in southern Calif. but were visiting Berkeley, where I had lived before. I had told him that we needed to stop at Andronico's to get piccoline olives, and then at Cheese Board for baquettes. While we were at Andronico's he spotted baquettes (I don't remember what kind, but they were fresh from some reputable bakery) and he said, "Oh look, we can get baquettes here, we don't need to make another stop." I told him that we did indeed need to make another stop. He was pretty cranky about it, until I bought baquettes at CB and he, as usual, broke the end off one to eat it. Immediately he agreed that this was indeed a baquette that was well worth the extra effort.

          2. r
            Robert Lauriston

            I've reached the same conclusion about the Acme rustic. Too bad they're not as easy to get as regular Acme baguettes ... though of course that's precisely why they can consistently produce top quality.

            I also like Bakers of Paris for their extremely authentic replication of a standard industrial French baguette (a decidedly inferior product).

            1 Reply
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I'm a Bakers of Paris fan as well, although I buy them from French Bakery (formerly BofP) on Taraval and 21st. This is the bread for purists.

              West Portal Bakery makes a fine seeded baguette and of course there's their sour date roll, which has a great crust.

            2. The Acme rustic bagette, bought directly from one of the Acme bakeries, is definitely the best I've found.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Malik

                Have you tried the pain epis from Acme? I had one hot from the oven the other week (at Ferry Plaza), and it was the some of the most delicious bread I've ever tasted. The crust was extra crackily and thinnish but still substantial. The innards were perfect. My bread vocabulary is limited, but I encourage Acme fans (and non-fans) to try this. I think it beats the rustic baguette, which is I agree is one of the best.

                My favorite baguette is Arizmendi's, though. I like the dense texture. We usually buy a couple on the weekend and cut them up into slice to freeze for toast usage over the week. This is probably a sin, considering the amazing fresh bread we have available to us in this city, but it's damn convenient.

                Anyway. Good bread = good stuff.

                1. re: Missy P.

                  I haven't tried the rustic baguette, but the rustic roll (presumably the same dough) at Acme is wonderful and freezes beautifully, with the benefit of not having cut surfaces through which the bread can dessicate in the freezing/thawing process.

                  1. re: Missy P.
                    Melanie Wong

                    Ooooh, yeah! For happy hour at Hog Island on my b-day, the bread accompanying our dollar oysters was the pain epis. Our group consumed god knows how many loaves of this - we got out money's worth! This batch from the Ferry Building had larger voids than from the mothership in Berkeley. Love both.

                    1. re: Missy P.

                      The pain epis is the same dough as the rustic baguette but it is shaped differently. They cut it right before it goes into the oven.

                  2. One important piece of advice. Baguette is always best enjoyed within the first 6 hours after it is baked. The fact is that nearly all are baked off in the early hours of the AM and by 5pm they often are limp with a tired crust.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: runningman

                      Acme bakes several times a day with some bakes as late as 2 in the afternoon.

                      1. re: wally

                        That's great if you live or work near their bakery.

                        If you rely on a corner store that stocks Acme, as I do, the stick baguettes tend to be stale before dinner.

                        This baguette business is very exacting. I know reputable hounds believe in freezing or toasting, but they're both sacrilege to me.

                        1. re: Windy

                          It just seems I don't know, very very wrong to moi.

                        2. re: wally

                          True, but those stores and restaurants that get deliveries in the am are getting bread that was baked between 6pm the day before and 9am that morning. While most often it is still splendid bread if you have had it an hour or so out of the oven what you find at 5pm in the afternoon, retail pales in comparison.

                      2. Bouchon has a nice one. I like it because it isn't quite as full of holes as Acme which I also love.
                        I have to say I don't think Poulain in Paris is not as good as Acme's large Levain.