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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)

thanks!

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  1. 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.

    The DD
    http://www.astrofood.net
    http://thediningdiva.typepad.com

    1. 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...)

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam...

      1. 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.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pickypicky

          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.

        2. 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)

          1 Reply
          1. re: honkman

            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!!!

          2. My new mantra for San Diego is "good enough." That's all I expect and if it's good enough I'll be happy. What I'm tired of is over-promising, over-reaching, and bamboozling non-cuisine (yellow cheese on fish tacos). After a visit to SF I had a hard time going back to Bread & Cie, but I respect the owner, Charles, and his committment to a real bakery here, which can supply retail and wholesale trade. So after a bit, the taste of SF bread out of my mouth, B&C was just fine again, and good enough. They deliver daily to their retailers, so Mr. T, if they deliver near you, you'll get better-than-nothing, good-enough-bread-- that sometimes is even great.

            3 Replies
            1. re: pickypicky

              Ah, but in accepting "good enough" are you also not simply "settling"

              The DD
              http://www.astrofood.net
              http://www.thediningdiva.typepad.com

              1. re: DiningDiva

                being grateful for what doesn't disappoint. applauding consistency and permanence. staying true to places and people who deliver what they promise.

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  Is there truly a benefit to sitting around feeling miserable about it all the time?
                  It's one thing to acknowledge the truth and another to dwell on it and let it devour you.

                  There are lots of good places to eat, good produce, good bread, etc., etc.

                  Is there better bread, restaurants, produce, etc., etc., elsewhere???

                  Sure but the whole thing is a process and the bottom line is people pay for what they pay for. Being great doesn't always pay!

              2. Still searching for a decent local source of a nice, crusty, full-bodied, "real" sourdough. In the meantime, I satisfy my craving with a trip to Boudin at the UTC mall.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mermaidsd

                  For sourdough, try the SD sourdough at Con Panne in Point Loma. It's baked daily on the premises and has good flavor and a nice crust.

                2. I haven't lived in San Diego since 1961, but back in the 50's my folks used to get a superb black rye bread from a place that I think was called the Bohemian Bakery and Deli. It was a New York style deli down near the ferry wharf to Coronado. Is it still in business, perhaps in a different location.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Father Kitchen

                    I second the rec for Bread & Cie. We live in Temecula and I buy it up here at Baron's. I've seen it at Jimbo's & Henry's in the greater SD area too. They don't have tons of varieties but what they do have is quite good.

                    By the way if you're ever up here the Temecula Olive Oil Co sells parbaked baguette loaves that you can finish in the oven. Their supplier also is at the Sat. Farmer's Market in Old Town Temecula (but not at the Wed. one we have at the Promenade Mall.) I know there is Temecula Olive Oil Co in SD now but I'm not sure if they stock the parbaked bread. They probably do sell bread there (for dipping/tasting etc) but not sure if it's the same thing as at the Temecula location.

                    1. re: Father Kitchen

                      Hey it's only been 47 years since you lived here, but no they are not there.

                      1. re: The Old Man

                        Why so snarky? If someone wants to make a contribution ... thank him!

                    2. I live in San Marcos too...you can get Bread and Cie at Sprouts in the Grand Plaza Shopping Center. For decent sourdough I got to Boudin SF in the same shopping center.

                      1. sadly we do not have a good place for nice crusty French baguettes in San Marcos... I like the ones at Bristol Farms in La Jolla. Market St. bakery in restaurant row has the best croissants though...
                        Oh...almost forgot... you can get a nice baguette at the French bakery in Escondido..downtown on Grand.

                        1. I have yet to find awesome bread here in San Diego (i had a similar thread last year).
                          I was recommended Soluntos in Little Italy, which is okay but not quite what I was looking for. Having visited New York several times the last few years I am bummed we can't get similar quality bread in this city. They even have great bread in their convenience stores there haha

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: MrKrispy

                            I am not sure what people look for when they ask for "awesome" bread, though I know dull, uninteresting bread when I taste it. All the same, if you can't buy really good bread, make it. And if you can buy it, rejoice and keep a good baker going. Bread can be baked in very many different ways, some of which can be labor intensive. But if your time is limited and you can plan ahead, make no-knead bread. It takes about ten minutes of hands-on work. And if you want to improve the flavor a few notches, make it with a sourdough starter instead of yeast. And if maintaining a half cup of starter is a challenge, use the Hertzberg-Francois approach. You may never want to buy bread again, except to compare it to your own. And, yes, you can bake the no knead breads as baguettes or panned breads. All you need is good flour, water, salt, and leaven (yeast or sourdough).

                          2. Right here made it yesterday. Sourdough Boule 1/3 White Flour 2/3 Home milled red wheat.

                             
                            1. I agree with the suggestion of Belen in Escondido, closest place to you for good bread. When we have our Italian cheese 101 class, I drive all the way up just for the semolina bread...excellent!

                              Avoid buying Bread and Cie in supermarkets. It is made in their large factory bakery and not in the bakery in Hillcrest. It is very different bread, not nearly as good. Try them side by side and you'll see the difference.

                              Con Pane is the best bread in San Diego, followed by Charlie's Best Bread. Both are a pain to get to, but worth the hassle.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: rotie77

                                I have tried them side by side and find no difference. In fact, any bread you eat at most of SD's top restaurants comes from B&C. Having taken a tour of the factory, I found exactly the same process, just larger and with more employees. The B&C wholesale business (to restaurants and grocercies) subsidizes the Hillcrest shop, for those of us nearby to enjoy. Without the wholesale side, there would be no Bread & Cie. If I have a choice of their bread in a grocery store and Ralph's or Von's or Trader Joe's or WF's "artisan breads," there is no choice.

                                1. re: pickypicky

                                  I think that the WF bread (even though it is still far from good) is often better than the B&C bread. The WF breads is at least freshly baked on often warm whereas the B&C bread often tastes old (at least in LJ).

                                  1. re: honkman

                                    B&C's breads are always delivered the day they are baked - and they turn rock hard when "old" so it's not likely they're selling a stale product. I think that the bread at the HIllcrest WF (Whole Foods, for those who are following) went downhill when they remodeled, maybe it's still good in LJ.

                                    1. re: Alice Q

                                      Thank you, AQ. I can always depend on you for a reasoned argument whilst I tend to get emotional defending my favorites. I'm so grateful for B&C for even existing here! And like I said earlier in the post: the wholesale side more than supports the retail shop. The owner runs the retail almost as a favor to the community. The the french baguette (on most days) is near perfect. Maybe folks don't understand that it's buy and eat, just like the French do; there just aint no savin' this bread. My only beef with B&C is that they don't make a great whole grain bread. I'm not fond of their multigrain.

                                      1. re: Alice Q

                                        It's not a fault by B&C but WF - Too often WF sells B&C bread which was clearly not made on the same day but at least their own bread is always fresh (at least in LJ) since it has a high turnover (which for some reasons the B&C bread at that location never has).

                                    2. re: pickypicky

                                      Comparing B&C to supermarket breads is a pretty low bar. I'd pick B&C over Ralph's too. And if you find no difference between the bakery and the factory, you're fortunate. Unfortunately, I notice a great difference. And so do my customers. It's a hard problem to deal with, but it is almost impossible to expand an artisan product to that level of distribution without some compromise. Charles has done a great job at B&C, no doubt, but there are several breads that top his factory bread.

                                      Not sure what you mean "without the wholesale side there would be no Bread & Cie." I was under the impression the bakery on University was around long before the factory.

                                      And you really believe Charles keeps the bakery open as a "favor to the community"? Wow! I've always seen the place packed, lines at lunch time. I thought the retail bakery was doing great.

                                      1. re: rotie77

                                        Yes, the B&C retail bakery does a great business, but its wholesale business is whopping. Whopping. I heard the figures once, just from one restaurant account but have forgotten the exact amount. I wrote "favor" which, forgive me, is my Texan hyperbole to make a point, but B&C would survive as a bread business just fine without the retail outlet. (It does build brand, though, and give Charles a place to see and hear his customers.) AND because the poor North County man was asking for decent (good enough) bread his way, I figured factory-made B&C might be preferable to factory-made grocery chain bread,especially since the chains make loaves designed to last for days. I also know that Charles Kaufman, the owner, takes criticism very seriously and responds to his wholesale and retail customers suggestions and needs. Again, it's one thing to supply a neighborhood with excellent bread and another to supply a county or region.

                                  2. Bread on Market makes a great and consistent line-up of fine breads, Not Escondido- friendly, but I consider them to be one of the best in SD.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Fake Name

                                      Actually the owner of Le Rendezvous French Bakery is Hmong-French. He grew up in France and moved here 3 years ago to open this shop. Glad you like their baguettes. I eat their baguette almost daily. I have not found a French Bakery that taste better than this or as authentic as this one in the entire county. "Everything is made fresh and tastes like they do in France."

                                    2. the baguette rolls at Le Rendez-Vous Bakery in Oceanside are excellent. The owners are Cambodian-French trained in France.

                                      -----
                                      Le Rendez-Vous French Bakery
                                      4225 Oceanside Boulevard, Oceanside, CA

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: septocaine_queen

                                        Ever since moving to San Diego, the french batard at Bread & Cie has been right up there, amongst just about any, IMO.....

                                        That is however based upon comparison to left coast breadstuffs, San Francisco included.

                                        I have always considered Manhattan to have the best bread in the world.

                                        Best Regards,

                                        STeven Garsson

                                        1. re: septocaine_queen

                                          I'll second the rec for Rendez-Vous in O'side.

                                          1. re: septocaine_queen

                                            I've posted several times about Le RendeVous bakery. The crust is perfect and the middle is soft and flavorful...love it...wish I lived closer!

                                            http://www.lerendezvousfrenchbakery.com/

                                          2. Like others I recommend Bread and Cie. I've found the Ralphs in La Jolla bakes a decent crusty French baguette daily - get the crusty country loaf, the others I wouldn't recommend.

                                            1. Sadie Rose Baking Co has some amazing bread. definitely crusty & the ciabatta is the best i have had in San Diego. You can get it at seaside market in Cardiff and both major markets in fallbrook and escondido. i think they are at the del mar & vista farmer's markets as well every week. you can also special order it from peggys pasta. www.peggyspasta.com to pick up at the market.

                                              1. Try a Panera branch if there is one near you. Think there is one in Oceanside. I live in the UK but was in the US for 4 months last year and went to different Paneras in different states to use their wi-fi. There was one semolina version that made nice toast. the next day as well. They also did pretty good baguettes. The bread in the UK is so much better than your average US stuff.

                                                1. If you are ever an hour and a half south of SD in the Valle de Guadalupe on a Wed or Sat., please check out the bread at the farmers market at Mogor Baden.

                                                  I was there yesterday - and have never in my life encountered such a beautiful scent of bread

                                                  1. One thing I miss from the east coast is salt risen bread. I mean it is so classically American going all the way back to colonial times and the very early days of the Republic but it seems to be a dying art. It's hard to find any place which still makes bread in that way.