Does good artisan bread exist in San Diego?
Having my bread passion rejuvenated by a recent trip back to the midwest, I'm sorely craving good bread out here. I moved to San Marcos (North County) last September, and I honestly don't think I've had any good hearth baked bread since then.
I'm looking for great crusty baguettes and true sourdough boules and the like.
Note: a coworker had recommended La Brea bread which seems to be widely available, but I found it lacking (I don't know if it's the parbaking that they use when they distribute or what, that reduces the quality, because I've heard they make great bread out of their LA bakery)
Con Pane - Point Loma
Charlie's Bread - Pacific Beach
Bread et Cie - Hillcrest
...all make very good bread, but they aren't very local to you in San Marcos. Bread et Cie is distributed to some markets around the county and Charlie's Breads have been available at some farmer's markets. SD isn't exactly the bread capital of the world, but it is possible to find a perfectly respectable loaf here.
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For inland North County there's Belen Artisan Bakery in Escondido. I've never been lucky visiting their shop (they were closed the time I went), but I have been buying their French Sourdough Baguettes at the local Farmer's Market.
I, too, was looking for rustic, hearth baked breads. Unfortunately most of their breads, at least to my eye, doesn't have the right texture nor rustic ear development that I have been looking for, and at the Farmer's Markets they have an (annoying) tendency to package their breads in plastic! However depending on the Farmer's Market location (?!) they package their French Sourdough Baguette in a better, though I'd still prefer an open craft paper bag, cellophane bag with plenty of holes for moisture control (at the Solana Beach Farmer's Market, for instance, but not in Little Italy or Encinitas!). I refuse to purchase rustic breads improperly packaged, and still I find the cellophane to be a tenuous compromise.
If you can't get to their Escondido location check out your area Farmer's Market where you may find them there. (Bread & Cie have also been appearing at some of the Farmer's Markets in the region, so you might be able to come across them as well...)
Bread & Cie is our mainstay. I'd call their corporate office (ph # on the website) and ask if/where they distribute in North County. I wholeheartedly agree with the packaging issue and won't buy from bakeries at farmer's markets who plastic-wrap. Not only does it ruin the flavor and disrespect the bread's need to breathe, it tells me the bakery is trying to stretch the sale life of their products.
Bread and Cie is carried at Henry's, Vons and Ralphs - at least down here. In a pinch, I've found Ralph's bakeries make much better bread than most grocery stores. Con Pane and Sadie Rose are also good, but may not be available in N. County. I generally buy a B&C levain and a sweet baguette, cut them up into inch thick pieces and freeze them, and gently toast it when we're ready to eat. Works great.
From your name "tanzbodeli" it sounds that you might be from Switzerland. If you expect any bread in SD or North County to have the same quality and variety as in Switzerland/Austria/Germany you will be very, very disappointed soon. I haven't found any good bread in SD so far (and I am desperately looking). Sadly, Bread et Cie is your best option (and it is still not really good) but only if you buy it directly in their shop. (finding really good bread in SD is similar for me as finding good bagels in SD for people from NY - it doesn't exist so far)
Oh man a couple of years ago I made a similarly negative comment about Bread et Cie and people freaked out. It's good, but it's not THAT good. The bread I could get in any supermarket in Boston far surpassed what I have to make a special trip to get here. And don't even talk to me about when I lived in Montreal - best bagels in the universe! Oh well, I agree with pickypicky's comment below - nobody is forcing me to stay in San Diego, I've lived her 15 years so I'm trying to stop griping!!!