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Visiting Seattle - Looking for Bakeries

Hello - I'm looking for bakery recommendations. While I do like the classics, I'm looking for places that are a bit different (as well as delicious) in terms of the recipes - stuff you can't find in any bakery. All recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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  1. For Pastry, Cafe Besalu (Ballard) is French French Pastry, and Bakery Nuveau (West Seattle) are neck-and-neck aroound here, with other contenders in Boulangerie (Wallingford), La Fournil (University Bridge), and Le Panier (Pike Place Market) are worth a look.

    For bread, Tallgrass, Great Harvest.

    Crossover = Dahlia Bakery, and Macrina, in Belltown.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mrnelso

      Cafe Besalu for sure on the pastries they're excellent, though their quiche has gone a little on the downhill slide lately. Good baristas (tasty coffee) but is usually crowded. Bakery Nouveau is tasty in the pastry dept but not even worth it on the coffee scale. Haven't tried the Wallingford spot, so no comment but now I need to get my butt over there. Le Fournil, don't bother. Dahlia is worth the trip, a little touristy but not a trap. Macrina is overhyped and not too special. If you find yourself on Capitol Hill, take a side trip to North Hill bakery, they have some fun stuff sometimes but it's really only worth the trip if you're on the Hill already.

      Le Panier, classic when it comes to Seattle bread spots, but will be crowded because it's in the market and it's summertime. Essential Bakery has a few locations and makes a Raisin Pecan bread that is perfect as toast and a vehicle for butter. Agree on Tallgrass and maybe try to make it to one of the Farmers Markets, you'll find a few jems there. Recs- Ballard Market, Columbia City Market (a bit out of the way, but worth it) and U-District Market. Times and dates are on their website www.seattlefarmersmarkets.org

      For excellent quiche try Le Pichet, they also make their own croissants and brioche that rival the first two bakeries. And if you want to throw in a cupcake or two, Cupcake Royale and Trophy Cupcakes are yummy with Royale being the more interesting of the two and they have good baristas.

      Dahlia Bakery
      2001 4th Ave, Seattle, WA

      Essential Baking Co
      1604 N 34th St, Seattle, WA

      Le Pichet
      1933 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

      Cafe Besalu
      5909 24th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107

      Bakery Nouveau
      4737 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116

      Cupcake Royale
      2052 NW Market St, Seattle, WA

      North Hill Bakery
      518 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA

      1. re: emmelle

        Many good recommendations--thanks.

        My two cents about cupcakes: Yellow Leaf (downtown) is the best; Trophy is a bit better than Cupcake Royale.

        1. re: not the bad Steve

          trophy does have a better crumb, but cr has more interesting frosting/batter combos, methinks. oh and i need to try yellow leaf, i have not been! thanks for that. :)

          1. re: not the bad Steve

            I tried Yellow Leaf last week and oh boy were the cupcakes pretty and expensive. I tried the choc decadence, almond joy (my fav) and tomato soup (spice cake). They are more "standard home size" than the large Cupcake Royales, and I enjoyed that their frosting stays soft. The cake itself was ok, but I didn't think they were spectacular and at the price ($17.50 for a half doz) I was disappointed. My fav is still Cupcake Royale's peppermint patty.

      2. Strongly recommend you check out Svedala Bakery in the Pike Place Market (it's a stall about halfway between the donuts and the newsstand.) They make all manner of Swedish baked goods, all incredible.

        My favorites are the mandelfl├Ąta (cardamom bread with marzipan) and the princess cake, but everything there is excellent and made from scratch (including the marzipan!) Not too sweet, just right. I also like the tosca (a sort of coffee cake topped with an almond toffee) and the little katalan and mazarin tartlets.

        Their hours can be a little funky, but they're usually there by mid-morning except Sundays when they sometimes don't open at all. Still worth stalking, though.

        Columbia City Bakery is my favorite for bread, Macrina comes in second.

        1. Nouveau's almond croissant is pretty amazing. I have to say too that even though at this point it might have become a bit cliche, Dahlia's bakery's coconut cream pie is the best i've ever had.

          6 Replies
          1. re: eat.rest.repeat

            The TD coconut cream pie became thoroughly cliche about 5 years ago. But hey, if you like a pile of sweet goo - and really, who doesn't? - Dahlia is happy to provide.

            1. re: babette feasts

              why 5 years ago? why not more (or less)? I wason a coconut cream pie quest in rural Alabama once (long story). TD's fares pretty well,but I think the white chocolate is cheating.

              For bakery in a different direction, Top Pot Doughnuts are local and delicious. Essential and Macrina are my favorites for bread (I but Essential at the grocery store, and Macrina is near to me). Nouveau and Besalu for pastry. For little cakes and such, Belle Epicurean (downtown, in the Olympic Hotel) is good.

              1. re: cocktailhour

                5 yrs was just a random number to represent how long ago I tired of the local media hype over that particular item, and me being snarky. No reflection on the concept of coconut cream pie in general, just that the TD ccp has or had been hyped to death. As a pastry chef NOT working for TD, one does get tired of the same thing being touted as the best dessert in Seattle over and over again. I did try a mini from Dahlia bakery once, and it was good I guess, sweet goo in a crust, but not having grown up with coconut cream pie or cream pies in general (we're fruit pie people - apple, raspberry, etc) I honestly don't know if it is the best ccp ever and worthy of the hype or not. Not using 'goo' derogatorily, I know full well that creamy, gooey, puddingy things sell very well. Chocolate mousse? Creme brulee? Coconut cream pie? Comforting, understandable, easy to eat and share = popular.

                For the best bread, I think it is a toss-up between Tall Grass and Columbia City. The latter might be a little out of the way for visitors.

                1. re: babette feasts

                  I join you. I ate that pie once. It was good. Then I went down the road and ate another good thing. There are many here.

              2. re: babette feasts

                Well, as you said, i'm not the only one who likes sweet goo. I would never say it is one of the best deserts in the city, but as far as coconut cream pies (and I admit that I don't eat a wide variety of them) I think its the best one i've had and would still recommend it to someone seeking out good baked goods.

                1. re: eat.rest.repeat

                  Is it just that not many other places make coconut cream pies so Dahlia stands out as special? I wonder if the relative rarity makes it stand out more. Seems like bakeries here hardly do pies any more much less cream pies.

            2. My favorites: Best croissants: Bakery Noveau (West Seattle) and Cafe Besalu (Ballard?). Best bread is Columbia City Bakery (way south of Downtown) and Tall Grass Bakery (love their fougasse)--other breads are available at Whole Foods and nicer grocery stores. The bread at Macrina is good too, but I think their pastries have gone downhill. French pastries at LeFournil (Eastlake/near the University) and Le Pannier (but crowded at Pike's Market).

              1. A bit different and delicious? Add The Salvadorean Bakery in Rat City to the list!

                1. I'm not sure if you want to venture over the bridge but Belle Pastry (on Main in old town Bellevue) is worth the trip. Best croissants this side of Paris and wonderful pastries.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: wawinelover

                    You really think they beat out Besalu, Nouveau, le Fournil, AND le Panier? That's a hefty claim. I had gone over there once about 2 years ago and was less than impressed.

                    1. re: babette feasts

                      I was also disappointed with Belle.

                      Besalu is the only local bakery that would be in the top tier in Paris for croissants. Pains au chocolat are excellent, as are other flaky pastry treats. One important characteristic of a great bakery is consistency of quality. Besalu has that with its pastries. My second choice for croissants may be a bit too far - Everett's Artisan French Bakery.

                      I had a very good pain au chocolat at Bakery Nouveau but a mediocre croissant the same day.

                      I like Macrina because I`m a fan of really good coffee cake. Hard to find non-boring ones. Seems like most places assume if you`re ordering coffee cake, you`re just some elderly person who`d be as happy with supermarket fare. Not at Macrina. They have some great coffee cakes, or maybe you`d call them round pound cakes. Lemon and lavender, chocolate and cranberry (Fridays only), sour cherry are all excellent. Plus you`ve got some great breads, including a fine, dense-style challah on Fridays.

                      Le Fournil used to vary from good to excellent. A couple of days ago I had a croissant that I didn't even finish. Could have come from Safeway. They do make wonderful sabl├ęs (sandy-textured shortbread cookies), the best I've found in Seattle, other than my own.

                    2. re: wawinelover

                      I was greatly disappoint in my almond croissant at Belle Pastry. I dearly miss A la Francaise and La Panzanella for their croissants and coffee cakes respectively. Bakery Nouveau has divine pastries and bread, though I'm not a big fan of the almond/choc croissant that so many others devour.

                    3. What is the name of that spot in Belltown that makes the "Morning Bun"? That's gotta be one of my favorites. Has it already been mentioned?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Kazy Ctn

                        You're thinking of is Macrina; I'm too lazy to read all of the posts to answer your second question.

                      2. Seattle is known for its very large Scandinavian community.
                        Nielsen's Bakery on lower Queen Anne, 2nd ave.
                        Ask for the Danish potato.
                        Custard, whipped cream and marzipan.