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Jul 17, 2006 02:12 AM

Is there a truly great baguette to be had in L.A?

When I was a young boy, living in Barcelona, I used to buy bread for the family every day at the local panaderia. It was a medium blonde crust with a relatively light and airy interior that had a nice bite without being the least bit chewey. It was perfect.

I've eaten great baguettes like this in Paris, but I've yet to find one that's even close in L.A.

I remember watching the French film, "Diva," which had a wonderful scene in which the protagonist talks about using a loaf and describes how it must be "fresh, but not too fresh." He then slices it along its length, slathers it with butter and a very generous amount of purloined caviar. It was a perfect shade of gold and had lots of air pockets. I swooned! I've been looking for it here, ever since. Alas, to no avail.

So far, I've tried the following:

La Brea Bakery: Fughettaboutit. Way too dense and chewey;
Bread Bar: Not a fine crust and also too dense:
Lorraine's Baguette: Crust too thin, doughy interior;
Pavillions Artisenal Baguettes: several types, all awful;
La Maison du Pain: Not bad, and their ficelles were pretty good, but I read that their French baker lost his visa, haven't been there since;
Grace Bakery: I think this is a San Francisco bakery that ships to Ralphs, good flavor but pricey and still not the right texture because it is still slightly denser than what I seek;
Rustic Bread from Gelsons: This is actually pretty good but, again, just a bit too dense;
Le Pain Quotidienne: see Bread Bar;
BF Baguette: Also too dense and obscenely over priced!

So, what I'm looking for is a very crisp and somewhat dense golden crust with a light interior with lots of taste and yeasty holes. If anyone has found this somewhere that I have been yet to find, I'd be very grateful for the referral.

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  1. I'm wondering if maybe Foix makes something like you are looking for. They do some decent bread. Or, maybe you are relegated to bagels.

      1. re: Schweinhaxen

        Second this! Also very good croissants.

      2. i'm sorry bob. there probably isn't. although i heard that cafe tartine on beverly blvd. imports their baguettes from france. but i hear the place got bought out by eat well or something like that and also had very mixed reviews. have you tried acme bakery baguettes from the bay area? i think they're just what you're looking for.

        1 Reply
        1. re: trolley

          I think that Cafe Tartine didn't have baguettes from Poilane; only their boules, that they sliced for a few of their open-faced sandwiches. Anyway, do you know who sells the Acme baguettes in the L.A. area?

        2. it may seem unusual, but if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. go to mr. baguette (or perhaps some of the other vietnamese sandwich shops around town) and buy 'em straight up!

          2 Replies
          1. re: rameniac

            You can get these vietnamese baguettes in the bakery section of some asian supermarkets such as 99 Ranch. Really good for making sandwiches that won't chip your teeth or send hard shrapnel into the roof of your mouth.

            1. re: WBGuy

              definitely the vietnamese bakeries are the closest you'll get to the parisian style baguette. light and airy with a good firm crunchy crust.

              there are several on valley between san gabriel and rosemead
              mr baguette
              lees baguette
              bahn mi che cali
              and a few more. they are all over the place!
              buy one from each and try them out!
              post your findings...

          2. Try bay cities in santa monica. Its on lincoln. It is closed on mondays fyi. i love their bread and their sandwiches. It's a great little italian deli and market.