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Mar 30, 2008 09:34 AM

SF: I like Lotta’s Bakery a lot – a nice challah, apple pie and the world’s best bakery hamantaschen

Or at the least the best I’ve ever eaten. It is the holy grail of bakery hamantaschen, so to speak.

They have the most delicate, buttery crust that encloses a plump filling of deeply flavored poppy seeds kissed with honey. 80 cents

CHALLAH: The prettiest I’ve seen in the Bay Area with a brown crust that is golden from egg yolks. It is the closest to the challah I grew up with (not Jewish, but Polish). It has an almost brioche-like texture. $4

Lotta’s is not a Jewish bakery, but an American bakery with some Jewish baked goods.

There are caramelized onion and cheese tarts, foccacia, loaves of bread, breakfast pastries, pies, cookies and cakes … including princess cake and Blum's coffee crunch

It is mainly as American as ….

APPLE PIE: Sweet with a tart tang and a hint of cinnamon. The flaky crust has a touch of butter that I didn’t notice till it was heated… maybe a little too much crust around the edges, but tasty. $3.50 slice

RUGULAH: Classic and very good. It was buttery and had a nice filling with lots of poppy seed flavor 80 cents

MACAROON: Good classic coconut version …some with a nice chocolate bottom. 80 cents.

BANANA, MOLASSES GINGERBREAD, PUMPKIN LOAFS: These were good, but the primary flavor was very muted in all $2.50 - $2.75 slice

LOTTA’s O’s: Lotta’s take on the Oreo … and not only was it a time-trip … wow I remember when Oreos tasted like this … Lotta’s improved on the Oreo …yes they did. Lotta’s uses a thin cookie that is flower shaped. That crisp cookie with deep Oreo flavor is in perfect proportion to the filling. I will warn you that due to the thinness of the cookie, you can’t pull them apart to eat the center first if you are of that persuasion. 60 cents

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE: The second time Lotta’s brought back a taste of the past. The cake was like the original Hostess cupcake … but better. It is topped with a light whipped butter cream.

Lotta’s has the feel of the East Bay’s Sweet Adeline … in the middle between the heavy-hitters like Tartine and the old-style European-American bakeries like Schubert’s.

Walking in the door is like walking into another world from the Polk Street scene. It is small and intimate with one case of cookies, torts and cakes … I think they have seven-layer cookies.

The front counter holds more cookies, sweet breads, pastries and pies. On the back wall are the breads. There are a few bistro tables. A friend was filling in so I can’t talk about the regular service. He was very nice though.

What I liked though was the prices and portions were reasonable. No cookies over $1. The only item I thought over-priced was the cupcake at $3. I would have been happier if it was $2.25 or $2.50 tops.

They also have mini-versions of some things like the lemon meringue tart. The seven-layer bars were sensibly portioned and priced so you wouldn’t go into a diabetic coma eating one.

Lotta’s is like a lot of the bakeries I grew up with … only better.

Lotta's Bakery
1720 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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  1. You know I checked that place out when it first opened in my neighborhood and I have to say I was pretty underwhelmed. Everything looked amature, mostly doughy and underbaked.
    Maybe it's improved...

    2 Replies
    1. re: rabaja

      Dunno. Everything looked great to me ... especially the bread pudding ... however I just had too much already.

      I put the qualifier in there comparing them to Sweet Adelines because I don't think either are a destination bakery like Tartine, but an excellent neighborhood place ... or bakeries for anyone living in SF or Oakland/Berkeley. Worth traveling out of your own neighborhood.

      I wouldn't travel from SF to Oakland for Sweet Adelines or visa versa ... but both are great bakeries for the side of the bridge that you live on. I seriously can't think of another American bakery in SF that is in the same class as Lotta's.

      Also, there's not many places that make good Jewish items in the city ... or pie ...

      Mission Pie might be a little better ... can't tell at this point because I haven't sampled enough at each place ... but geez, the pie situtation in the city was really grim for a long time. Nice to have another place making a good pie.

      Reading through the mainly enthusiastic Yelp reviews, it seems the least successful thing they sell is the cupcake ... so don't start with that should you give this a try

      1. re: rworange

        "I seriously can't think of another American bakery in SF that is in the same class as Lotta's."

        I haven't been to Lotta's, so perhaps they are totally different from Destination Baking Co., but you haven't been to Destination yet, correct? They are very American and homey. I think their stuff is stellar because all components of their goods are made from scratch and they have great skills. The owner trains all the bakers very rigorously and is extremely exacting.

    2. Rugelach and coconut macaroons are both Jewish. Well, coconut macaroons are not exclusively Jewish, but they're traditional in Jewish bakeries because they contain no dairy products and thus can be eaten after a meat meal by those who keep kosher.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        They're also easy to make Kosher for Passover because they're typically made without flour and use eggs rather than leavening.