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Any suggestions for awesome bakeries?

We will be in Boston for a few days in September, need help finding the best bakeries. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

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  1. Search the board - there's tons of threads. Also, if you said more about what you're looking for (sweets? cakes? bread?) you can get much better guidance - there's a huge variety of bakeries in the area, and even the best have widely differing strengths.

    1. Canto 6 in JP is the best. I'll even add one of those obnoxious "hands down" to the sentence.

      1 Reply
      1. For European-style breads (French baguettes, German rye, etc) , the clear favorite (pun intended) is Clear Flour on the Allston/Brookline border, not far from Boston University. They placed #2 in the country (behind a San Francisco bakery) in the Baguettes & Specialty Breads category in the most recent world baking championships.

        27 Replies
        1. re: BobB

          We are looking mainly for breads and breakfast pastries. I will look into the threads I suppose. Thanks for the suggestions!

          1. re: persally

            Clear Flour has great breads and breakfast pastries.

            1. re: Blumie

              Clear Flour's "Morning Buns" (a.k.a. sticky buns) are to die for . . . .

            2. re: persally

              There is a pastry shop called Truly Jorg's, in the Hotel Commonwealth, in Kenmore Sq. They have delicious pastries and cakes, and it's definitely worth checking out.

              -----
              Truly Jorgs Patissiere
              514 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

              1. re: mwk

                However, if you do go to Truly Jorg's, by all means avoid the eclairs, which are awful enough that I threw one away after taking two bites.

                Another vote for Clear Flour, which is undeniably the best for croissants (plain, apricot, chocolate and gruyere, all outstanding) and baguettes.

                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                  I'm curious if all the people saying Clearflour is the best have gone to Canto 6. C6 has Clearflour's bread but a better choice of tarts, scones, etc. IMO. Better prices too.

                  1. re: Joanie

                    I'm totally with you on this. I'm not even a sweets person but Canto 6 makes me swoon over their lovely pastries. The almond croissant is amazing, as was a danish and another little treat I cannot remember the name of now. I've not tried any of the cookies. It's fortunate for me that it's a good 20 min. walk from my apartment, and so I really only make it there every other weekend or so.

                    1. re: Joanie

                      Yes, but I couldn't care less about scones and am more than happy with the rustic fruit tarts at Clear Flour, which I only occasionally buy because I prefer to make my own. Overall, there's really very little difference between the bakery selection at the two locations (unsurprising given the connection between the two): I think Canto 6 does more cakes than Clear Flour, but again, that's not a major point of interest for me. Add in that Clear Flour is about a seven-minute walk from my front door and it remains the clear winner for me.

                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                        um, I wasn't dissin' you... anything that is a 7 min. walk from my house and has good product would be my clear winner, too. But unfortunately centre street in JP (my 'hood) is filled with a large number of mostly poor bake shops.

                        have you been to Canto 6?

                        1. re: MB fka MB

                          We haven't, although I'd love to - BFP may sneer at scones, but I don't and I acknowledge that CF's are not the best.

                          Since we don't have a car it's become difficult to pop over to JP just to visit a bakery - plus when we do we're usually taking the 39 bus, and Canto 6 isn't near that route.

                          I suspect that the outstanding box of cookies that we received after a death in the family a couple of years ago came from Canto 6, actually - wherever they came from, they were amazing.

                          1. re: Allstonian

                            Allstonian forgets that I have occasionally been in JP at times when she hasn't, and I have been to Canto 6, although it was once and it was a little over a couple years ago. As I said, other than the bundt-type cakes (which CF only occasionally does) and the lunchy things, I didn't see much of anything at Canto 6 that Clear Flour doesn't also do: I think the main difference is that many of the things that they only do on some days at Clear Flour, like my beloved Bostok and the equally excellent gruyere croissant, are regular daily items at Canto 6.

                            Has Canto 6 started carrying that huge red currant doughnut that's become a staple at Clear Flour? That's a winner.

                        2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                          I'm curious and ignorant. What's the connection between Canto and CF? I've ventured to both although each is a hike for me. My attempt to find Canto was comical and I was pretty frazzled by the time I reached it. To be honest, I can't really remember what I purchased but the selection of pastry (my interest) was sort of limited at noontime. I do recall being very pleased with CF and would venture there again if the mood hit me and because it's closer.

                          1. re: tweetie

                            The owners of Canto 6, Evangeline and Alex, are ex-Clear Flour.

                        3. re: Joanie

                          FWIW, I don't read any of the posts as saying Clear Flour is the best, or even better than Canto 6 (which, to answer your question, I have not tried). Many of us are expressing our opinion that Clear Flour is great. Sounds like Canto 6 is great, too, and perhaps even better, but Clear Flour still is great!

                          1. re: Joanie

                            I'm heading over to Canto 6 this weekend. First time I'd heard of it. thanks!

                            1. re: Joanie

                              So we went over yesterday at noon. Loved the owners - chatted with them about Clear Flour and Brookline, where they went to high school, as did our kids. But the price of fame - ever since they won Best of Boston they sell out of many specialties and so we ended up with sandwiches on Clear Flour bread as all the brioche and in house breads were gone, as were the gruyere croissants and some other things I was hoping for..My sandwich was delicious- roast turkey with artichoke spread and spinach and tomato on 7 grain bread and DH had roast beef on a baguette which he only ate half of.. I was going to head over this morning but it's easier to walk over to the Patisserie on Beacon St and hope she made up some ham and cheese croissants. Next time I make the trek it will be early.

                          2. re: mwk

                            I went to Truly Jorgs' Saugus location a while ago, and was very impressed.

                            But a few months later (this was right when they were in the process of establishing the Kenmore Square location), I was back, and was VERY disappointed.

                            I was actually applying for a cake decorating position. First of all, despite my baking talents (out of necessity I learned how to bake - and cook - up a storm), I will admit I was AWFUL (embarrassingly awful) at controlling the frosting, etc. The pastry chef (forgot his name - don't have time to search, since I am supposed to be doing school work right now) was really nice, patient, and didn't insult me despite my shortcomings.

                            However, I have to be totally honest - the cake tasted AWFUL. The perk was that I got to take my (this is a broad term) creation home. It did LOOK better than the other cakes in my kitchen (really tried to practice); however, we actually ended up throwing it out - my adult kids who were living w/me at the time told me that MY cakes are much better.

                            Other things I noticed - at the time they got rid of their nice display area, and had a case full of prepackaged individual cakes on display (ready to go out, perhaps - looked institutional), & I also discovered that they use prepackaged mixes in back (cakes, frostings, etc.). Their stuff isn't made from scratch. I wonder if that's to be expected in professional bakeries... also (man, I sound critical..) I had a chance to look at the book of glossy photos they use for people to order special occasion cakes - it was really, really poorly put together - horrible amateurish photos - don't know if the cakes were actually that bad, or if it was the poor photography.

                            Oh yeah - despite having a couple of hunger young men (my sons) in the house, I ended up throwing out the cake, because they wouldn't eat it.

                            Enough said...

                            1. re: threedogs

                              Your comments have confirmed my longstanding feelings about Truly Jorg's. Their stuff just does not taste good!

                              Sorry, but there are bakeries on this earth that do it all from scratch, and it ain't to hard to TASTE the difference!

                              One other note, though their creations are somewhat spotty, the two locations of Athan's are not bad. I am particularly fond of their chocolate and cherry creation called a "Jamaica."

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                I agree. I never cared for Truly Jorge's. When I had first heard about it I went to the Saugus location and didn't enjoy any of the variety or pastries I got. When they opened in Kenmore, i went again to give it a second chance, Again, I was disappointed and won't be back. Canto 6's Bostok IS wonderful. CF definitly has the best baguette hands down although Canto 6's is very good.

                                1. re: catsmeow

                                  doesn't canto 6 get their baguette from clear flour?

                                    1. re: autopi

                                      Yep, the breads at C6 are from CF.

                                      And hasn't Canto 6 only been C6 for about a year? I wonder if BFP is confusing it with its predecessor Bread & Butter (I think that was the name). I thought they were good but the latter is better IMO.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    When I first went into the Saugus location, I hadn't been back from Arizona for too long - man, I'm sorry to say this, but it is a chowhound wasteland out there. My palate had been so destroyed with nothing but chain food (Krispy Kremes, and the like), that I think I was blown over just to be in any establishment that wasn't a chain.

                                    Been back a good long while. Now I really don't want to waste my money or tastings on any premixed stuff. Heck, I make EVERYTHING from scratch at home, bake bread everyday, roast my own coffee, etc. - I'm not settling for a professional who has chosen to take shortcuts.

                                    On the other hand, I can't wait to try Clearflour. It's a hike for me, but I plan to make a day of it at some point.

                            2. re: BobB

                              sorry it's a bit off-topic, but i was wondering where you read about this baking competition . . . ?

                              1. re: dchow

                                I first heard about it a couple of years ago when Clear Flour had a clipping about their second-place finish posted in their shop. It's called the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (the World Cup of Baking), held in Paris every three years. The last one was in 2005.

                                Google search on World Cup of Baking and you'll find lots of info about it.

                                1. re: BobB

                                  Actually, Abe Faber and Christy Timon, the owners of Clear Flour, have been affiliated with the Bread Bakers Guild of America for a long time, and have some affiliation with Team USA, which has competed in the Coupe du Monde. Team USA came in second in 2002 and actually finished in first place in 2005 (as well as 1999.) As far as I can tell, bakers from Clear Flour have NOT been in the final Team USA in any of those competitions.

                                  1. re: Allstonian

                                    No, they haven't, but as previously mentioned, they did place second in the US trials in 2005 in the Baguettes & Specialty Breads category. The first place winner in that category, Jeffrey Yankellow of the San Francisco Baking Institute, became part of the US team that later took first place in Paris.

                            3. Flour in the South End has some great breakfast pastries. I love their lemon ginger scones and the sticky buns they put out today looked incredible (it took a lot of willpower not to give in to temptation).

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: AnjLM

                                haven't been in a couple of years... but Mike's in the North End (Italian section) was very good. Yummy cannoles

                                1. re: AnjLM

                                  My brother and his partner - fine bakers - went there in June and thought the quality was mediocre and the price obscene.

                                  1. re: Karl S

                                    Mike's is my favorite bakery. The OP is looking for awesome bakeries, and it would be the odd person who isn't awed when walking into Mike's, or when biting into one of their lobster tails. It's more of a dessert pastry shop, though, not a bread and breakfast pastry place.

                                    1. re: pollystyrene

                                      Walking into Mike's certainly is an awesome experience. Unfortunately, not all of their products are as awesome. If one has the time, they certainly should compare and contrast the three M's: Mike's, Modern and Maria's, all of which are within walking distance of each other in the North End. Mike's certainly has its share of fans, but Modern and Maria's generally are preferred among participants on this board.

                                      1. re: Blumie

                                        Personally, I think Mike's sells on the visuals - who wouldn't be impressed with the setup? But as far as quality - it's been awhile since I have been there, but I wasn't thrilled with their product.

                                        Haven't been to Modern is too many years to admit. They have been around forever, too. Back in my younger days (before kids, before computers, back when I was listening to Arnie "Woo-Woo" Ginsberg, for like minded oldies like me) I'd also listen to my mom & aunts (God rest them) sing the 'Praises-Of-Mike's-Pastry.' My mom & her sisters would have my dad and my uncles make that holiday drive to the North End to get our box of sweets to end our Italian meal.

                                        But that was way before the the original Mike moved to New Hampshire & opened up shop somewhere up there. I guess it was his mother-in-law took over the shop (heard it from the Italian gossip-chain).

                                        I would love to do a comparison of the three M's someday! That's a terrific idea, especially since I may move into the pastry realm myself eventually (will be a culinary arts student starting this fall).

                                    2. re: Karl S

                                      I agree, Flour is pricey and the baked goods not sufficiently delicious.

                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                        Have to agree too, I thought the quality was very ordinary at both branches. certainly not bad, but far from being special.

                                  2. Great morning pastries are found at the Danish Pastry Shop, barely in Watertown over the Cambridge line.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: newhound

                                      This place is my favorite for sweet breakfast pastries and I just read that they are at several farmers' markets this summer/fall
                                      Mondays at Boston City Hall, Tuesdays at Harvard Yard, Wednesdays we're back at City Hall and simultaneously displaying at the Arlington Center market, Thursdays in Medford center, Saturdays in sunny Provincetown, and Sundays at the SoWa Open Market in the South End.

                                      1. re: ginnyhw

                                        The Blue Frog Bakery @ 3 Green Street in Jamaica Plain has superb scones.
                                        I have also had their chocolatepot de creme which is equally good. It is a tiny place. Their website is bluefrogbakery.com.

                                        1. re: edgewater

                                          How are the danish at Blue Frog thee days? I haven't been in a while and want to try them again.

                                      2. re: newhound

                                        DPS is pretty darned good, not quite on the level of clear flour but very good.

                                        I also love Hi-Rise breads thought they are expensive and am a huge fan of Iggy's breads.

                                        Truly Jorg's is unfortunately truly lame. The pastries are just lacking in deliciousness. Like Cafe Vanille on Charles Street they look great, but just have no flavor.

                                      3. Try Sweet Tooth in South Boston. Seriously decadent desserts. Try the apple crisp cheesecake with a ginger crust....so good.

                                        1. Daniels in Brighton Center- Washington Street

                                          An old fashioned bakery, everything baked on the premises.

                                          1. Venture out on the red line to Porter Square in Cambridge, and take a 5-10 minute walk to visit Petsi Pies. She does pie and scones that are wonderful. We have brought several out of town guests there and no one has been disappointed. She doesn't bake bread though.

                                            1. Has anyone tried A. & J. Artisan Bakery in Salem? Looks impressive, but since I don't have a car (and I'm finishing up with finals) I haven't had a chance to visit yet.

                                              -----
                                              A & J King Artisan Bakers
                                              48 Central St, Salem, MA 01970

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: threedogs

                                                we went there on a day trip a couple weeks back. we got a very nice ciabatta and some more than decent pastries (a scone and something else). the space is calm and soothing to boot. it's a serious bakery, and one i wish was closer to us.

                                                another bakery that has not gotten the mention it deserves is fornax in roslindale. they have serious breads, though i think they have some pastries as well.

                                                1. re: autopi

                                                  Thank you, autopi - your description makes me really want to visit - a serious bakery that is in a calm and soothing space. Sounds like my kind of place..

                                              2. I actually think Clear Flour is overrated. I recently moved to the area from NYC, where I frequented Balthazar, Amy's, Sullivan St. The bread at CF doesn't hold a candle to any of those places. The chocloate brioche I had at CF was quite good, but I have no idea why people like their breads. Even Iggy's is better.

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: nomdeplume

                                                  Ahhhh another New Yorker... welcome to Boston.

                                                  Not sure there is anything "wrong" with Iggy's bread as though that were some barely acceptable fallback. I also like Clear Flour across the board.

                                                  To quote a great punk rock band, "This is Boston, Not LA" (or NY).

                                                  If you are seeking NY quality stuff, Boston falls short in many ways, but also has stuff that NY can't touch (Clam Shacks, Dok Bua, Floating Rock, certain chinese restaurants, Formaggio Kitchen - oh yeah they finally opened a NYC branch, etc, etc). Of course NY is 10 times as big, more like 15 if you count the surrounding areas...

                                                  Back to bakeries, Boston has come a LONG way since I moved to beantown. Have you tried Hi Rise? Their Huron loaf if probably the best whole wheat I have eaten anywhere. Nothing remotely like the dense rye breads at Danish Pastry house can be had fresh baked in the NYC area. The average neighborhood in NY doesn't have anything other then "Hot and Crusty," a forgettable chain. Think of Boston as one NY neighborhood and you will calibrate your expectations appropriately. In Boston you've got to schlep a little further, and work a bit harder, and it still might not be Balthazar. Oh well, since I moved here my blood pressure has gone down at least 50 points, and I manage to eat some pretty respectable chow ;-).

                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                    have had the bread at Amys and Sullivan Street in New York as well as various breads from Zabars and the Vinegar Factory, etc. My NY family prefers Clear Flour and Iggys, particularly Iggy's raisin pecan bread and Clear Flours black sesame sticks. Frankly, NY bread, as with so many other things, used to be better. Lots of things in NY are still terrific (can't get a decent bialy here and still go to Kosars for those when I visit NY) but I'll match CF and Formaggios against Amys and Murrays Cheese shop and be content that its a fair comparison.

                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                      Thanks for reality check. What else besides Hi Rise and Danish Pastry?

                                                      1. re: nomdeplume

                                                        I am going to start a new post on this topic.

                                                        Take a look.

                                                    2. re: nomdeplume

                                                      i certainly prefer the cf baguette to iggy's--in fact, i prefer the cf baguette to a lot of the baguettes in france, and it may be my favorite (consistent) baguette stateside. i suppose it depends on what you like in a bread, and perhaps you have idiosyncratic preferences. (i haven't had the breads at the nyc places you mention, though i've had some of the pastries there.)

                                                      i agree with striperguy that one does have to keep in mind relative differences in scale, wealth and yuppie-concentration when comparing boston v. cambridge v. nyc v. wherever else--esp. when considering yuppie staples like high-brow, high-concept baked goods.

                                                      1. re: autopi

                                                        for croissants the quibada bakery (sorry my spelling is off) in arlinton on mass ave
                                                        i am getting excited just thinking about them (hence my handle-name on this forum)

                                                        1. re: foodperv

                                                          Is that the one near the movie theater? I used to get their almond croissants a few years ago (come to think of it - that was more than a few years ago). They were SO good.

                                                          1. re: threedogs

                                                            Yup, that's the one. The full name is "Quebrada Baking Co." and here's the link:

                                                            http://www.quebradabakingco.com/

                                                            There are two locations, one in Arlington on Mass Ave and one in Wellesley.

                                                            1. re: madmanchan

                                                              Mmm - I'm never near those locations anymore. Need to learn how to make them - almond anything is in my list of most-favorite-foods.

                                                              1. re: threedogs

                                                                yup thats the one i lived there for yrs still have family there so i stop by about 2-3 times a yr when i visit